TTDI residents seek court order to prevent irreversible harm to Taman Rimba Kiara

The ‘Selamatkan Taman Rimba Kiara’ group and representatives from Bukit Kiara Rumah Panjang Residents Association at the Kuala Lumpur court complex, December 13, 2017, for a hearing for an application for a stay order on a project in Taman Tun Dr Ismail. — Pix by Yusof Mat Isa
The ‘Selamatkan Taman Rimba Kiara’ group and representatives from Bukit Kiara Rumah Panjang Residents Association at the Kuala Lumpur court complex, December 13, 2017, for a hearing for an application for a stay order on a project in Taman Tun Dr Ismail. — Pix by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 13 — Taman Tun Dr Ismail (TTDI) residents today asked the courts to temporarily freeze all actions for a condominium project in the Rimba Kiara park pending the end of a lawsuit to prevent the “irreversible” felling of trees.

Lawyer Balan Nair, who represented the TTDI residents, told the High Court that a stay order was necessary to “preserve the status quo” of the planned project site and to prevent the court challenge against the high-rise project from becoming an “academic exercise”.

He argued that there would be irreversible damage to Taman Rimba Kiara if the stay was not granted.

He noted that TTDI residents had in August obtained leave for their legal challenge of Kuala Lumpur City Hall’s (DBKL) approval for the project, but said the authorities have since then continued to grant further approval for the condominium developer’s applications, including a November 6 nod to build a showhouse at the project site.

“As far as irreparable harm is concerned, what is the effect of the carry through of the impugned decision? Physical works will start, chopping down trees will start, and we say that has an irreversible effect,” he said in court today.

He had earlier said the project site was part of a 25-acre public park in TTDI called Taman Rimba Kiara that was meant to be a public open space and recreational area, with Taman Rimba Kiara also being part of the bigger Bukit Kiara green lung.

Taman Rimba Kiara was designated as a “city park” in the Kuala Lumpur Structure Plan 2020 that was gazetted in 2004, and was shown as “public open space” in the plan’s more detailed version — the Draft KL City Plan 2020.

Representatives of TTDI residents have previously been reported saying that there is an estimate of close to 800 trees at the 12-acre project site.

Balan had also disputed the project developer’s arguments that it would be deprived the right to develop after having incurred expenses of RM150 million and carried out works, noting that the developer could still continue with its project if the lawsuit fails.

“We are not asking for an injunction, all we are asking for is a stay,” he said, having noted that it would be a waste of the courts’ time if the lack of a stay order causes the lawsuit to be academic.

Alliff Benjamin Suhaimi (left) and Balan Nair (right) are the lawyers for Taman Tun Dr Ismail residents challenging a planned development in the Taman Rimba Kiara area.
Alliff Benjamin Suhaimi (left) and Balan Nair (right) are the lawyers for Taman Tun Dr Ismail residents challenging a planned development in the Taman Rimba Kiara area.

Today was the hearing of TTDI residents’ application for a stay order to suspend any actions related to DBKL’s approval for the condominium project until the end of their judicial review application.

Lawyer B. Thangaraj, who represented the KL mayor, asserted however that the project site was “never reserved as green lung”.

“All this while, it’s government land, not gazetted as green lung,” he said.

“We say in whatever circumstances, the land is already earmarked for development. Whether a stay is granted or not, it doesn’t make any difference. Ultimately the land is for mixed development,” he said, referring to the land use in the land title for the project site.

Thangaraj also argued that the Kuala Lumpur Structure Plan 2020 is “not a legally-binding plan”, saying that city planning is fluid and changes according to time and cannot be rigid.

Commenting on the draft Kuala Lumpur City Plan 2020 which has detailed land use information, Thangaraj said: “So ultimately the local plan is in draft form, it has yet to be gazetted, so we submit the applicants in this case cannot rely on a draft local plan as well.”

Balan later replied by saying that TTDI residents have a legitimate expectation in relation to the representation given in both plans, noting that this would be dealt with during the judicial review hearing.

High Court judge Datuk Kamaludin Md Said will deliver his decision tomorrow afternoon on whether to grant the stay order.

Rows of trees in the area that is believed to be part of the project site.
Rows of trees in the area that is believed to be part of the project site.

Today, Kamaludin also allowed DBKL’s application to be struck out as a party to the lawsuit and ordered TTDI residents to pay RM2,000 in legal costs.

Thangaraj had argued that the decisions challenged by TTDI residents were all made by the KL mayor who is already part of the court case and that they would not be prejudiced if his office, DBKL, was dropped from the lawsuit, having cited laws where DBKL is not considered a legal entity that can sue or be sued.

On August 11, TTDI Residents’ Association chairman Abdul Hafiz Abu Bakar, the management bodies of five condominiums and four other TTDI residents had filed for judicial review against the Kuala Lumpur city mayor and DBKL in a bid to stop the condominium project.

The disputed project’s landowner Yayasan Wilayah Persekutuan, property developer Memang Perkasa Sdn Bhd, and the longhouse residents association led by V. Sunderam have since then joined the lawsuit as respondents.

The TTDI residents’ lawsuit seeks a court order to quash both DBKL’s February 28 conditional planning permission and July 13 development order for the project, as well as a court order to compel the KL mayor to adopt and gazette the Draft KL City Plan 2020.

Trees line both sides of the road from Taman Rimba Kiara’s sole entrance and at its sole carpark which is well-shaded by trees. Part of the project site.
Trees line both sides of the road from Taman Rimba Kiara’s sole entrance and at its sole carpark which is well-shaded by trees. Part of the project site.

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