Bukit Antarabangsa landslide disaster – urgent Parliament debate

Just four days to the 15th anniversary of the Highland Towers tragedy, disaster again struck early this morning in Bukit Antarabangsa when a landslide killed at least four people, seven missing, 15 injured, 14 bungalows destroyed and 4,000 people evacuated from the area.

Parliament, when it reconvenes on Wednesday, should have an urgent debate on why no lessons have been learnt from the 1993 Highland Towers Tragedy which claimed 48 lives when its Condominium Block 1 collapsed so as to prevent the recurrence of today’s tragedy.

I still remember vividly the harrowing presence of former Deputy Prime Minister, Tun Musa Hitam, when I visited the Highland Towers Condominium collapse site in Ulu Klang on the night of 11th December 1993, as he lost his son Rashid Carlos who together with his wife Rozita perished in the tragedy.

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) should also initiate an urgent inquiry as to why the relevant government authorities have failed to learn past disasters and tragedies.

I will visit the Bukit Antarabangsa with DAP MPs tomorrow.

(Speech at the DAP Balakong Branch’s 1,700-People dinner in Balakong, Selangor on Saturday, 6th December 2008)

  1. #1 by Mr Smith on Sunday, 7 December 2008 - 8:42 am

    The blood is on the hands of all those who have corruptly gained from the development – the approving authority, developers and political parties.
    Developers and local councils work hand in hand, money change hands and contributions are made to BN parties prior to the general elections.
    House buyers are the dead ducks – they can never beat the developers and local councils, in or out of court.
    The Federal Court was not too concerned about the merits of the claims but more to protect ‘taxpayers funds’ since the residents were ‘better off’.
    In this country the small man never wins. UMNO and BN exists for itself, not for the people.

    As usual the UMNO Speaker will reject the motion as the matter is not urgent and being attended to by the relevant authorities.
    There are always lofty promises and exhortations after a tragedy and then it is business as usual.

  2. #2 by ctc537 on Sunday, 7 December 2008 - 9:53 am

    It’ now crystal clear that the state and federal governments and housing developers just do not care about the safety and well-being of the people when implementing housing projects. Selangor is not in short supply of land to build houses on. So, why risk human lives unnecessarily? It’s no use to regret. Malaysians never learn.

  3. #3 by wanderer on Sunday, 7 December 2008 - 9:53 am

    Why the ‘Golden silence’ from Toyol and his gang. Obviously, history was there for this lot as a reminder not to indifferently approve new hillside developments, yet, it was totally ignored. It is about time, these corrupted politicians from the previous State govt be made accountable.
    Sadly, never a word was mentioned by our PM that an inquiry was necessary, if guidelines were followed and approvals were made after a careful study…no hanky, panky was involved.

  4. #4 by hadi on Sunday, 7 December 2008 - 9:54 am

    Yet another disaster and for the next 100 days Malaysians will remember this devastating tragedy and then it fades away and everyone start to be greedy yet again.
    Parliament should debate this seriously and don’t depend on the PAC to do the job but another volunteer and an independent committee must be set up, once and for all to solve this issue.
    The warning statement by PM, DPM and MB Selangor is not enough as this issue has not gone down to the rakyat as a real awareness and the nation needs sincere and honest accountable citizens in order to ensure that tragedy of this kind can be avoided.

  5. #5 by xplora on Sunday, 7 December 2008 - 10:01 am

    Before commenting these useless government, please pray and silent for 5 minutes for those who sacrificed especially for the mother who protected her child.

    as usual
    Oops! PM do it again, blame other people instead of himself!

  6. #6 by OrangRojak on Sunday, 7 December 2008 - 10:11 am

    “business as usual”
    I would like to see this replace “Truly Asia” as Malaysia’s slogan. Loss of loved ones is a terrible tragedy, made worse when you suspect it could have been easily avoided.

    Short term profits have a certain gloss, but they are ruining Malaysia in the long term. I look forward to the day when a far-sighted, competent government can rein in the aggressive ignorance and puerile greed that rules Malaysia today.

    “why no lessons have been learnt”
    Not everybody can learn lessons. Sometimes the right thing to do is to issue a D- and move on to the next student.

  7. #7 by murid-murid on Sunday, 7 December 2008 - 10:14 am

    This is an indication of the quality of engineers we have. They are no better than the politicians. All of them are half past six

  8. #8 by taiking on Sunday, 7 December 2008 - 10:17 am

    Badawi finally showed his anger. “Enough is enough” he said. And “dont lobby or pressure the government” for development of hillside projects.

    Ah ha. Pressure / lobby the government it seems. So the umno government is actually susceptible to pressure and lobbying by businessmen.

    See the problem.

    Lets pressure the umno government for 25million to repair chinese and tamil schools. Lets pressure them for lower toll rates. Lets pressure them for lower petrol price. Lets pressure them for abolition of ISA. Lets pressure them for judiciary independence. Lets pressure them for independent police watch dog. Lets pressure them for independent ACA.

    All these are national issues. Its affects everyone. 26million people to be exact and not a mere developer or two or three. If they can bow to a mere developer or two or three, then even more so they should bow to the country and the people’s wishes.

    But no. Not that simple. Bowing to developers means rewards. Bowing to the people means shooting one’s own foot.

    Conclusion: “Enough Nonsense Umno. Enough is enough.”

  9. #9 by madmix on Sunday, 7 December 2008 - 10:40 am

    This is a case of GREED GREED GREED. Greedy developers, land owners and equally greedy officials from Menteri Besar to mayors down who approve their projects. Greedy engineers, soil surveyors, town planners, and architects who close one eye. And then there are buyers who abet these greedy people.
    GREED knows no bounds. There will be no approvals until the noise dies down and in one or two years, you will see project approvals by DBKL and others.

  10. #10 by undergrad2 on Sunday, 7 December 2008 - 11:02 am

    This is a case of criminal negligence especially in the light of Higland Towers tragedy.

    It goes beyond common law negligence based on the duty of care. There should have been new legislation enacted post-Highland Towers, placing a more stringent duty of care on developers and the licensing agencies etc.

  11. #11 by undergrad2 on Sunday, 7 December 2008 - 11:08 am

    Caveat emptor cannot always be used as a legal defense. There are exceptions.

  12. #12 by homeblogger on Sunday, 7 December 2008 - 11:22 am

    madmix Says:

    Today at 10: 40.26 (36 minutes ago)
    This is a case of GREED GREED GREED. GREED knows no bounds. There will be no approvals until the noise dies down and in one or two years, you will see project approvals by DBKL and others.


    Agree. This is the Malaysian style :

    “As long as we make money, who cares if people die in landslides. After all they’re greedy rich people who want to show off and live in hillside luxury homes.”

    Greed doesn’t discriminate and it’s alive and kicking in Malaysia because it starts from the very top and for 51 years, it has permeated to every organization, division and department.

  13. #13 by sheriff singh on Sunday, 7 December 2008 - 11:54 am

    Just drive anywhere, N-S highway, in and outside of towns and you will see hill-slopes being cut out and developed indiscrimately. One wonders whether these are really necessary and safe and how approvals are being dished out by the various local authorities. What safeguards are being put in place? How are the decisions being made?

    Nature is rebelling against us for our misdeeds.

  14. #14 by chris chong on Sunday, 7 December 2008 - 12:13 pm

    PAC again? ask them go to fly kite better.

    PR came into power too late in Selangor to put a stop to the steep slope development.

  15. #15 by adoionline on Sunday, 7 December 2008 - 12:21 pm

    Why must we keep saying the same thing over & over again? Are Malaysians really so dense & so slow on the uptake? Or are the majority of those who still think MCA & MIC are relevant – & by extension the BN – merely being kiasu? They’d rather work with a corrupt government – easy to bribe, right, then keep on doing wrong things – like rape the environment just for a fast buck? I just cannot accept living in a country where the Chief of Police is still being paid a salary even though he was 100% guilty of falsifying & fabricating evidence to fix Anwar in 1998 – in fact, that’s why Mahathir made him IGP! Same goes for Gani Patail. So what does this Police Inspector General do? He arrests teenaged bicyclists trying to draw attention to legitimate grievances & people who hold candles in public places to demand the abolition of the ISA. Has he summoned any hillslope developers for interrogation? Never! He probably appreciates the Hari Raya hampers he gets from them very much.
    Who knows what goodies these hampers contain? There is tremendous SIN blackening the karma of this great country – it’s mainly the SIN OF GREED COMPOUNDED BY ARROGANCE & IGNORANCE!

    May the irredeemably corrupt be severely punished here & in the hereafter for the spiritual rot they have brought to bear onus all. The first in line for punishment will be named Mahathir bin Mohamad. May his successors be duly warned….


  16. #16 by lee wee tak_ on Sunday, 7 December 2008 - 12:34 pm

    Let me play the Speaker and I would reject your motion on the excuse of:

    1) SPCA has already rescue the 50 cats and 6 dogs
    2) victim dead already not need to talk so fast
    3) I am under orders to reject all motion initiated by opposition MPs
    4) since Lim Kit Siang does not live in Bukit Antarabangsa, not urgent
    5) since police, fire brigade and MCA already there, no need to debate
    6) since land is state matter, the Parliament is not the place to debate
    7) I say cannot, cannot-lah

  17. #17 by OrangRojak on Sunday, 7 December 2008 - 12:40 pm

    I was interested to see that this area is directly above the Highland Towers, according to this article:


    and the summary of liabilities on the last page of this article:


    I wonder whether claims have been pursued and compensation paid? Was there any action (revocation of licences / fines / custodial sentence) for negligence / manslaughter?

  18. #18 by AhPek on Sunday, 7 December 2008 - 12:46 pm

    In Cinque Terra (the Riviera of Italy) and the Almafi coast of Italy,one finds the the hill cliffs reaching to the Meditteranean Sea and,invariably one would also find houses built on the cliffs.And in Wellington too the hilly capital of New Zealand,you will find many houses built on slopes,many of them steeper than Bukit Antarabangsa.But I’ve never heard of slopes collapsing on top of houses in those places.Mind you these houses are much longer in history than the ones in Bukit AntaraBangsa.But why?Simple for there is only one reason and that is that those houses built on the slopes on hill cliffs are built in accordance to the best engineering practice.No one would have the audacity to put their signature to approve if it is not done accordingly.
    In Malaysia why is it that we can’t built houses on slopes that canstand.This is not rocket science you know. Why are we witnessing never- ending ‘hill slope collapsing on houses’ incidents.Don’t we have engineers who are up to the task or we have people who can be persuaded to ‘close one eye’.

  19. #19 by jus legitimum on Sunday, 7 December 2008 - 12:48 pm

    In China, when the late paramount leader Deng Xiao Ping passed away,millions people all over the country mourned and thousands even cried and wailed at his passing.But here when that old big mouth has his day,drums will be beaten,cymbals will be struck and if firecrackers are allowed will be lit and fired.

  20. #20 by monsterball on Sunday, 7 December 2008 - 12:57 pm

    The Highland Tower tragedy …….repeated again.
    UMNO is only interested to approve anything….as long as there is money to be made.
    Now……..look at Dollah blaming developers….with not one word on his lousy UMNO government.
    Will the Minister of Housing & Development have the decency to resign?

  21. #21 by AhPek on Sunday, 7 December 2008 - 2:20 pm

    Best of all is nobody will be found responsible for this tragedy.Like the famous Samy’s answer…It’s an act of God.So too bad if your house is there!

  22. #22 by cemerlang on Sunday, 7 December 2008 - 6:19 pm

    This is a good case for the Anti Corruption Agency.

  23. #23 by wahai kawan on Sunday, 7 December 2008 - 8:47 pm

    Prevention is better than cure. While I note the good intentions by the new ruling Selangor government, may I know what measures has been taken for those houses or apartments/condos that has already been build and going to be approved by the municipal council such as MPAJ?

    I have a concern because the apartment I bought shows cracks all over. It’s at Block B, Pandan Perdana Lake View Apartment, K.L. I have written to MPAJ, Land Exco & my constituent YB to ask the safety condition of this building but to date, no answers has been given.

    I have proof of letters & emails from MPAJ copied to the Yang Dipertua Dato Mohammad Yacob to show that at initial stage, MPAJ hold the developer responsible and then later confirms the other as the management has been transferred from the developer owned management team to a new entity. My question is whether the bad condition was discussed & transferred???

    One thing is confirmed by MPAJ – Jika ia melibatkan struktur bangunan tiada tempoh kecacatan.

    Now that’s the question I am asking!

    If the structure is Ok, then it is safe for me to occupy and as such, if the building collapses one day, we know who to send the bill to!

    I hope you can agree prevention is better than cure! We should have programs to check the living ones instead of praying for the lost ones.

    We should have MPAJ who are at tax payers cost to have preventive measures!!! A responsible body to protect the people!!!

    It’s time for all of us to remember what is the price the society will pay when we have irresponsible developers along with a group of complacent Corporate Governance Officers around!!!

  24. #24 by taiking on Tuesday, 9 December 2008 - 10:26 am

    In order to generate a keen interest to debate the issue in parliament, one should really tie in a carrot. Promise to draw up a directly negotiated contract with any intererested party to implement slope protection measures worth maybe RM20b with a right to collect slope protection fees from affected house owners for 100 years with umno government guarantee thrown in and protection of confidentiality in place.

    Sure winning formula.

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