Ministerial reaction to Bukit Antarabangsa disaster – too much resignation, too little outrage

Starting with the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, there is too much resignation and too little outrage in the government reaction to the Bukit Antarabangsa landslide disaster and criminal negligence in failing to learn the lessons of the Highland Towers Collapse tragedy which had claimed 48 lives 15 years ago, resulting in the loss of another four lives on Saturday.

Apart from wringing their hands in despair and spouting the usual platitudes about a halt on hillslope development which no one believes in, there is even no political will to set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry not only into the latest landslide disaster which killed four persons, injured 14, buried 14 bungalows and stranded 5,000 people, but also into the criminal negligence of the various parties involved – particular the federal, state and local government agencies – in failing to learn the lessons of the Highland Towers tragedy 15 years ago.

No wonder, Dr. Benjamin George, who survived the Highlands Tower disaster, was not convinced that things would get better when he said: “In three months, the tractors will start work again. I have survived long enough to see all this nonsense repeated.”

After the Highland Towers tragedy, I had proposed in Parliament the establishment of a mechanism like the Geotechnical Engineering Office (GEO) to investigate slopes for potential risks and to take preventive measures, to control the geotechnical aspects of new buildings and civil engineering works, to promote slope maintenance by owners, to undertake landslide warnings and emergency services and to advise on land-use plans to minimise public risks.

Affected Bukit Antarabangsa residents are entitled to ask why several tell-tale signs of impending landslides days and even weeks before Saturday’s landslide disaster had not been acted upon by the authorities to issue landslide warnings, especially as a geological firm had been awarded a RM1.6 million contract to “solely monitor the geological conditions” in Bukit Antarabangsa area, including earth movements.

Residents refer to a landslide which cut off a portion of the Jalan Bukit Antarabangsa main road just six days earlier, while a landslide victim, businessman Hassan Saad, 49, claimed that he had notified the relevant authorities about fallen trees and earth movements close to his home in Taman Bukit Mewah in October but his complaints were not taken seriously by the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council (MPAJ).

There can be no two ways about it – there should be a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Bukit Antarabangsa landslide disaster with a three-prong terms of reference:

• firstly, to inquire into the circumstances and causes of Saturday’s Bukit Antarabangsa landslide tragedy;

• secondly a larger mandate to inquire whether and why the Federal, state and local government agencies have not learned the lessons of the Highland Towers tragedy 15 years ago, specifically for Bukit Antarabangsa but even further afield; and

• thirdly, why other countries like Hong Kong could end landslides by ensuring hillslope safety despite development.

When I visited Bukit Antaarabangsa disaster site yesterday, I had asked where was the Minister for Housing and Local Government, Datuk Ong Ka Chua, who had not shown up or expressed any concern more than 24 hours after the landslide disaster.

It was a few hours after my public query that the Deputy Housing and Local Government Minister, Robert Lau, showed up at the site claiming that he was making the visit on behalf of the Minister.

But what was more intriguing was the explanation by Ong’s press secretary that the Minister had left the country on Friday, a day before the landslide disaster, and that the Ministry staff had difficulty communicating with Ong.

As this clarification was made by Ong’s press secretary after the site visit of several DAP MPs yesterday, where did Ong fly to that he could not be contacted after some 48 hours – in a world when one can fly to the end of the world in 24 hours?

Finally, will Ong appear in Parliament on Wednesday to announce the establishment of a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Bukit Antarabangsa landslide disaster?

  1. #1 by All For The Road on Monday, 8 December 2008 - 12:29 pm


  2. #2 by kftang on Monday, 8 December 2008 - 12:46 pm

    India’s Home Minister and the country’s top Security Chief

    RESIGNED on their own accord and without being directed

    on the aftermath of the Mumbai massacre tragedy!




    ACTION? Any answer or answers?

  3. #3 by hadi on Monday, 8 December 2008 - 12:50 pm

    You know la YB, Ong Ka Chuan merajuk becoz MCA Chinese did not support him and he makes sure other people join his suffering.
    Typical BN leaders, jadi menteri dan dapat elaun mahu terima with all the perks tapi kerja tak mau bikin.

  4. #4 by sean on Monday, 8 December 2008 - 12:54 pm


    Don’t worry…….he will resign for the second time eventually.This will make him the first Minister in the world to do so.Even better than the India’s Home Minister etc.

  5. #5 by disapointed86 on Monday, 8 December 2008 - 12:55 pm

    what a minister we have…applause….Uncle Kit..did u missed inquiry on the negligence of the body involved for the landslide..

  6. #6 by disapointed86 on Monday, 8 December 2008 - 12:57 pm

    –> especially as a geological firm had been awarded a RM1.6 million contract to “solely monitor the geological conditions” in Bukit Antarabangsa area, including earth movements

    1.6million for the landslide to happen??

  7. #7 by k1980 on Monday, 8 December 2008 - 1:30 pm

    Look around you and see how many housing developments have been allowed by Ka Chuan’s ministry on 25 degrees and above gradient slopes. These developers must be required by law to give free life insurance policies against landslides to all the purchasers of their housing projects.

  8. #8 by oraclespeak on Monday, 8 December 2008 - 1:37 pm

    For seriously precarious steep hillside highrise development one must visit Damansara Perdana in PJ. Highrise apartments and offices such as the PJ Trade Centre are built on stilts on very, very steep slopes of more than 45%. New hill cutting is still going on right next to the main road and I would hate to think what would happen if there should be a landslide here !
    Please highlight this before it is too late.

  9. #9 by limkamput on Monday, 8 December 2008 - 1:43 pm

    The sheer lack of response to this posting is an indication Malaysians in general have long lost complete faith of Malaysian politicians, both in BN and Opposition alike, to govern this country effectively.

    Each time a disaster happens, a litany of government agencies from federal, state and local authority levels will be named as partly responsible. But the reality is this is one of the most “over governed” country in the world. If you have multi-tiers governments coupled with numerous agencies, who really is responsible?

    Sdr Lim, I suggest you stop waste time and energy calling for the setting up of yet another Royal Commission of Enquiry. What is there that you still do not know? Unless we have sorted out our system of government – with clear demarcation of functions and responsibility, elimination of duplicity and overlapping, enforcing and holding those responsible, things will only become worse.

    Yesterday a fatal bus accident happened in Tangkak, Johore. I know many will probably start to blame the driver. To me, the problem is larger than that. It is probably a little bit of everything ranging from corrupted JPJ, cronyism in issuing bus permit, low wages and stressful working conditions of most bus drivers, to poorly design road system. In addition of landslide, has the government at all levels thought about how to reduce fatal accidents in this country?

    Now Perak state government is talking about putting multilingual road names. Do you fellows have any other better ideas to govern the state other than indulging in endless good for nothing politicking?

  10. #10 by kowtim on Monday, 8 December 2008 - 1:43 pm

    The Deputy Housing Minister was already on the way to the site before your arrival. He came back from Sibu, leaving at 7 am and arriving at KLIA at 10 am. From there he took another hour to arrive at the site. That means plan was already in place to drop in before your visit and not because of your visit.

  11. #11 by vehir on Monday, 8 December 2008 - 1:48 pm

    try visiting – this website has exposed many topics about the present government. Everyone should read it.

  12. #12 by monsterball on Monday, 8 December 2008 - 2:02 pm

    I am sure vast majority Malaysians reading what LKS wrote…….makes them..quite fed up.
    Dr.Benjamin George is right.
    I hope MCA is proud of Ong Ka Chuan…that braggart with a big mouth.
    He will not resign….loosing the party’s election…yet hold onto the minister post..and where to be found…when the tragedy involves him directly.
    This shows..MCA ministers are just for show.
    It takes reveal more truths.

  13. #13 by pizi87 on Monday, 8 December 2008 - 2:20 pm

    haiya Ong is playing hide and seek?! thats not helping at all!!!!!!!!

  14. #14 by wahai kawan on Monday, 8 December 2008 - 2:27 pm

    Let’s review facts based on this words – IMMUNITY

    Fact no 1 – Based on the Highland Towers case, is there a local authority law to protect “SOMEONE” from any legal action for wrong doing. So they have been given IMMUNITY. Which Government gave this right to?

    Let’s imagine beyond our horizon:-

    1 It is arguable when we have a Capitalist regime, it tends to favor it’s affiliated bodies as compared to others. Easier to work in this scenario

    2 In a Capitalist regime and if I am immune from law suits for any wrong doing, then it is presumably PRODUCTIVITY will increase without fear but maybe with favor!!! Tapalah, kita boleh buat apa-apa, bukan dia boleh sue sama kita!!! Suka hati kita lah…. Sini sana approve salah tak apa lah!!! Kena sue it developer mah & bukan kerajaan!!! Bodoh, you tak mau kah? Relax brother!!!

    3 Oh my God! There is another land slide! We, the municipal council stress all Good Corporate Governance! Our SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) is in accordance to the law! Bukan dia boleh buat apa-apa! Relax brother! We are immune!

    4 Hey Kawan, you punya rumah sudah banyak crack lah! Ini bahaya! But in his heart, “ahh how to answer to my boss lah when he ask how we approve the CF?”

    Well Done! You have promoted Lackadaisical Attitude with your immunity laws!!!

    Ohh! Criminal negligence ! Itu bukan saya! Itu Developer mah!!! Dia giam liau mah!!!

    It is confirm we are moving backwards!!!

  15. #15 by dawsheng on Monday, 8 December 2008 - 2:36 pm

    To hell with those killed in the landslide, what has it got to do with Ong Ka Chuan being in politic. He is more worry of losing his status, after all he is from MCA, the self serving organization. I don’t know what is Ong trying to prove but after 48 hours disappearance and no ministerial statement, obviously, Ong Ka Chuan is still satisfying his own ego, thanks to those unfortunate landslide victims. My condolences.

  16. #16 by Prasad on Monday, 8 December 2008 - 2:57 pm

    If there are people willing to buy at hillside, then there’ll always be parasite willing to take their money and build for them.
    Let us not forget this fact.

  17. #17 by juno on Monday, 8 December 2008 - 2:59 pm

    As much as my dear LKS fights for justice for all of us he has created such awareness that I’m so impressed by of the exposures of all the evil of this govt. Within 2 months they are able to expose so much filth in the layers of the govt.

  18. #18 by charis14 on Monday, 8 December 2008 - 3:00 pm

    I agree with limkamput’s suggestion to “..stop waste time and energy calling for the setting up of yet another Royal Commission of Enquiry.” Knowing BN’s total disregard, such repeated calls portrays a negative ‘talk-only’ response.

    What is needed is “what should we do, knowing BN’s usual response”? Can Selangor state government appoint a team of professionals to probe and determine the root of the problem?

  19. #19 by James on Monday, 8 December 2008 - 4:07 pm

    I dare say with confidence that after all the talk for a one or two or three days there will be no new initiatives at prevention. That is typically BN style – no money/gains no need for action.

    Will like to propose a fund of, say MYR50 million be set up immediately. This fund will compensate future victims of landslide tragedies. Not only people no need to worry for future victims but this also will ensure that hillslope landslides events in future need not cause any more troubles with the people.

  20. #20 by Yee Siew Wah on Monday, 8 December 2008 - 4:13 pm

    Just look at India, the top people took responsibilities and resigned.
    But in Bolehland, all our top people, ministers especially that sleepy flip flop guy and Mr.C4 as usual, ” we must stop all hillside development”. Same old story and same old song. It is amazing that bums like these never ever learn in life. Precious lives are lost because of corrupted and greedy idiots running the country. These bums will say sorry, etc… and then the whole scenario will repeat again in future.
    I can guarantee 100% la.

  21. #21 by Godfather on Monday, 8 December 2008 - 4:40 pm

    Look at the Medan Damansara hillside development. We were led to believe that anything above 45 degrees will be banned, but then the developer even started cutting slopes in excess of 60 degrees. When the residents complained, Bandaraya sided with the developer.

    Look at the new condo development coming up on the hillside of Bukit Ceylon. The gradient is in excess of 45 degrees, but cutting off some of the top makes the gradient less than 45 degrees, so Bandaraya says semuanya OK. The idea of the ban on hill cutting above 45 degrees is so that the developers can’t ever start thinking about levelling the hills, but Bandaraya has a novel way of enforcing this 45 degree ban – checking after the hills have been partially levelled to meet this criterion.

    Do we rakyat have protection from the gomen ? Nah, we are on our own, and in the case of the Medan Damansara development, the developers have sued the individuals representing the residents’ association.

    We have to vote in a more caring government. If not, the stealing will go on unabated.

  22. #22 by Godfather on Monday, 8 December 2008 - 4:41 pm

    What ? These politicians have spent millions getting to where they are, especially in ministerial positions, and we want them to resign ? Who is going to compensate them for the “loss of revenue” ?

  23. #23 by c730427 on Monday, 8 December 2008 - 5:56 pm


    The effect = Landslide, Death and Sufferings

  24. #24 by Jeffrey on Monday, 8 December 2008 - 6:52 pm

    What is this ‘hillslope development’ that is supposed to be blanket stopped?

    Building houses on a slope or building houses next to the slope or both?

    It looks like it is the stability of soil/geological conditions and drainage conditions, maintenance & supervision of that slope that matter more than building on a stable slope itself.

    For one could build a house on (technically) a flat land and yet be victim of landslide if it were next to an unstable slope (whether less or more than the threshold of the approved gradient) that slips.

    Dr Gue See Sew, a geotechnical engineer toured the site of the Bukit Antarabangsa landslide.

    The bungalows destroyed by landslides were apparently facing a hill slope on top of which there are two rows of double storey units, located at Jalan Wangsa 9, which are an abandoned project for more than 20 years.

    Dr Gue said that the abandoned projects were very dangerous in terms of landslides.

    “The site is not completed and there is no maintenance of the site,” he said, adding that the lack of maintenance, especially of slopes could cause them to collapse on houses below……(Ref – The Star Monday December 8, 2008).

    It looks like the disaster was not immediately caused by any new development by a greedy developer but more an abndoned project of a failed one!

  25. #25 by k1980 on Monday, 8 December 2008 - 7:09 pm

    Now, there are rumours that police and security personnel had broken into vacated houses at the Bukit Antarabangsa landslide area. Greed, greed, greed… the police and security personnel need by the govt and then by the victims to be paid for their rescue work

  26. #26 by drngsc on Monday, 8 December 2008 - 7:12 pm

    I would like to add my condolence to the family of those who lost their lives and my sympathy to those who suffered. Sad to say, the powers there be will never learn. Like Dr Benjamin George, I have lived long enough to know that in 100days, all will be forgotten, and life will return back to what it was before. Let’s see what the Pakatan government can do. I cannot understand how those in authority ( be it politicians, officials, developers, architects, engineers ), can have the heart to profit from peoples death and suffering? What kind of authorities do we have? We never learn?

  27. #27 by timothy on Monday, 8 December 2008 - 7:30 pm

    Indeed malaysian didnt learn from Highland Tower’s case. After that case, there appearred a profession called building surveyor. After the incident, the press brought up the need of Building Surveyors to be involvoed in all building built on hills, not neglecting also, on lands. But look at the present, this profession still not recognised, not even having its own Act. If you’re sick, u won’t go and find a a vet, if u need to build a house, u won’t go and find a fashion designer. Similarly, in this construction industry, building surveyors have roles to play. Unfortunately, ‘people’ neglected them. Who to blame?
    Malaysia produces how many hundreds of building surveyors each year. How many involved in the public sector now? less than 10! how many private BS firms in Malaysia, less than 5! Where is the awareness? Life is precious, not something you can play about. When there’s such need for this profession, why cant it be ALIVE in Malaysia?

  28. #28 by undergrad2 on Monday, 8 December 2008 - 8:05 pm

    “It looks like the disaster was not immediately caused by any new development by a greedy developer but more an abndoned project of a failed one!” Jeffrey

    Is it not reasonably foreseeable that landslides may occur under the circumstances and would pose a danger to those living below?

    Caveat emptor?

  29. #29 by chengho on Monday, 8 December 2008 - 8:20 pm

    Zoom in the investigation to the ministry that issuing the Developer licence , PBT and the state government.

  30. #30 by undergrad2 on Monday, 8 December 2008 - 8:44 pm

    Property development has been linked to massive corruption at the highest levels of government. Nobody needs convincing.

    What needs convincing are members of the public who view this as another tragedy i.e. things that could happen to others but not to them. Well, over time that will change. Are you going to wait to address the issue when relatives are found dead buried in the rubble?

    Hillside development and building collapses and landslides are just the tip of the iceberg. These grab the headlines when they happen but what about poor sanitation, drainage, use of substandard materials in the building of houses and certificates of fitness which ought not to have been issued?

  31. #31 by izrafeil on Monday, 8 December 2008 - 9:16 pm

    Uncle Lim,
    B.Antarabangsa is not served by any public transport i.e. there is no public bus service that goes there. Alternatively try calling a taxi, of the six taxi companies listed, I will pay u RM10 if you can get a taxi within 30 minutes.

    Now, dont RapidKL is owned 100% by taxpayers? Shouldnt RapidKL be helping those taxpayers now in need? Like giving a free bus service say from B.Antarabangsa to KLCC every hour on the hour for the next two-three weeks?

  32. #32 by waterfrontcoolie on Monday, 8 December 2008 - 10:00 pm

    Godfather, the point high-lighted is relevant but what the hell those ‘A..Holes still want to buy such houses? To me, the first incident we can sympathize with them for being misled but by now I can only conclude ‘You ask for it!!!’, what else can you say?.
    I think the space should be used for more enlightened purpose!!

  33. #33 by wahai kawan on Monday, 8 December 2008 - 11:25 pm

    MPAJ is given immunity !
    Ruler’s immunity taken away !
    That’s what BN did !
    Please my beloved King, do the needful !
    Please do not bless anymore BN MPs !
    Our current lives is only worth 10 cents !

  34. #34 by ringthetill on Tuesday, 9 December 2008 - 4:16 am

    Who, in the Government and civils servants will take responsibility for this happening? Clearly, it is is man-made.

  35. #35 by jartze on Tuesday, 9 December 2008 - 5:26 am

    I am so agree with Charis14:
    ‘I agree with limkamput’s suggestion to “..stop waste time and energy calling for the setting up of yet another Royal Commission of Enquiry.” Knowing BN’s total disregard, such repeated calls portrays a negative ‘talk-only’ response.

    What is needed is “what should we do, knowing BN’s usual response”? Can Selangor state government appoint a team of professionals to probe and determine the root of the problem?’

    Uncle Lim, I think you have forgotten that DAP has now access to the resources of 5 states in Malaysia. When this kind of incident happens in the past, we couldn’t do anything except to blame and wait for the central government to react. But after March 08, things changed! We want to see a state government that is more efficient and cares more about the civilians, at least more than what BN uses to do.

    I understand that many representatives are new, so you’ll need time to learn how to rule a state. Please learn from this incident. I sincerely hope that 4 years from now, the 5 non-BN states will stand out among all other states, to show all malaysians that the country can work better without BN. Our country didn’t change much over the past 50 years, and it will not change if BN continues to rule.

  36. #36 by Jeffrey on Tuesday, 9 December 2008 - 8:30 am

    Its inevitable that with scarcity of land with rapid urbanisation, fuelled by greed of developers and penchant of many to live on higher grounds with spectacular view that development (whether erection of buildings or roads) will continue at or around the hills.

    It is not practical to solve the problem with a simple regulation : no development will be allowed on slopes with more than 25 degrees gradient!

    Both in this country and world over buildings, whether residential or commercial have been erected on slopes, often steeper than this threshold gradient of 25 degrees, which held their grounds.

    The problem lies not (strictly) in building on slopes. A regulation like that can be circumvented by building on flat land near slopes which faces the same problem when the slope slides and falls over adjoining flat land.

    The crux of issue is the stability of the hill slope, whether one erects a building or a highway on, through or around the slope.

    It is stability and safety of the slope that matters – not just at the time when one erects a structure but through many many years thereafter, by maintenance.

    One would need an organisation or government department whose function it is to solely dedicate itself to slope safety and exercising oversight on all slopes of any significance affecting developed areas throughout the country.

    Needless to say such an organisation must have technical geologiocal and engineering expertise to understand all impact factors that affect slope stability and cause landslide : nature, porosity of soil, drainage and water seepage and weight on the soil, gradient, vegetation and human activities near the slope.

    This is a country of heavy rain interacting with soil movements.

    These natural conditions justify having such a specialised organistaion or department to address the specific problem of lanslides of which Bukit Antarabangsa surely will not be the last.

  37. #37 by Jeffrey on Tuesday, 9 December 2008 - 8:37 am

    Why such an organisation is preferred to do this function over local authorities is because the latter, being in charge of many other matters, have no specialisation on just slope safety.

    Local councillors are appointed politicians, they are not appointed exactly for their zeal to protect human welfare, but that aside, whether appointed or elected, they could be bribed to approve a project that they ought not to.

    Besides, in the interest of local authorities’ funds from municipal rates not being depleted, the law is inclined to protect them from being sued, except in the most irrefutable case of gross negligence. This breeds indifference and a tendency to overlook.

    When such an organisation/department specialising in slope safety monitors and brings its findings to the local municipal authorities and the developers, it must, by law and regulations, be vested powers to make the local municipal authorities and the developers take cognisance of their findings.

    It means that approval for development and CFO will not be given if developers do not abide by the standards and benchmarks set by such a body.

    That is however not all. Even if approval were given for development to proceed on, through or around stable slopes within defined parameters, the slope stability must be maintained over the long haul by clearly defined accountable parties.

    Under the monitoring of such a body, the parties responsible, whether developers or property owners, must have a sinking fund to take precautionary or remedial actions when faced with clearly identifiable signs of slope degradation, maintain and buttress slope stability throughout. This assumes that the steps to buttress slope stability and prevent landslides are known and communicated by that body to the relevant parties for implementation…..

    Can we have such a organisation for slope safety then?

    Even if yes, it is no point if it is quickly privatised by Private Financing Initiative under 9th Malaysia Plan to some cronies. Putting people’s lives ahead of profits is not their motivation.

  38. #38 by Thinking Two on Tuesday, 9 December 2008 - 9:40 am

    Wasting time and resources.

    If you can’t change them in 15 years, what makes them change it now.

    Without approval, no incomes.

    When there is problem, nobody is responsible for it because it was nobody’s business.

    When this project attracted world attention, everybody stuck their head out for acknowledgement.

    So simple get to the bottom of it and there must be someone who signed the approval.

    “Stop hillside project NOW!” This message will be forgotten in a week time…..

  39. #39 by taiking on Tuesday, 9 December 2008 - 9:47 am

    What on earth happened? Its water. We all know water is heavy. Lift a pail full of it, and its weight would immediately become apparent. That is basic logic. And worse, it is liquid in form and therefore it flows.

    Earth is porous. That too is common knowledge. It is not hard and impermeable like steel. Even concrete is porous. The earth is porous because it is full of interstices between the grains of fine sand and rocks. Although they are not apparent to us, the interstices actually occupy a very large space in terms of volume. Hence the earth can actually take in quite a lot of liquid water.

    Now if the earth is made up of fine materials like clay and silt, then the water it absorbed will be retained for some time. Sands are a lot less able to retain water. Try this out. Its a very simple experiment. Sand can drain away water a lot faster that clay and silt.

    The grains of fine materials (be it sand or clay or silt) rely on frictional forces between themselves to hold up their respective position. Of course, this is possible only if the grains are in physical contact with one another. It is through physical contact that frictional resistance came about.

    When water comes into the picture three things would result. First, it would fill up the interstices. Second, the earth would become soggy and heavy. Third, it would seperate the grains of fine materials and reduce the frictional forces between themselves.

    It should be quite clear that these problems are more relevant and pronounced when it comes to clay and silt. Sands do not retain water for long. So what is said hereafter is said in relation to clay and silt.

    And it does not take a lot for one to appreciate that the earth will slowly lose it earth-like structure and feel when more and more water is absorbed, i.e. as more and more of its available interstices are filled with water. A critical point would be reached when the earth finally turned into liquid mud; and in the presence of a gradient and under its own weight the liquid mud would naturally flow away to a lower area.

    This is one type of slope failure. It is likely to be the type we saw in bkt antarabangsa. There is another type called the slip circle failure. Slip circles will not be elaborated here as it is not relevant for the purpose.

    The common way to protect against mud flow on a slope is to reduce as much as possible the quantity of absorbed water so as to prevent the critical point described above from ever occuring. Nature does this quite effectively with grass and vegetation cover.

    In our country, rain is one nasty source of water. Rain water will largely run-off the grass surfaced slope and not into the earth. Besides, the roots of vegetations would act as anchors to hold the earch together. That is an additional safety measure – nature’s way. And plants need water to survive and grow. They take them from the earth. So the earth will dry up relatively quickly.

    Development will usually result in vegetation clearance. That is bad. So rain water run-off must be dealt with carefully, effectively and completely. Unlike in nature, in build-up areas there are no additional root anchors to rely on for extra safety or plants to draw liquid from the earth to keep its liquid content in check.

    So drains are the only means of channeling rain water run-off. They must be maintained otherwise, water will overflow. They must not be broken or cracked otherwise, water will seep into the earth. And for the same reason, concrete covered pavements too must not be broken or cracked. Underground pipes too must not leak.

    Then there is the more complicated issue of underground water. Its natural profile must not be disturbed too much. And one must also bear in mind that the soil making up the earth varies from one spot to another. Underground water level too would inevitably change from place to place. So extreme care is needed. Solving the geotechnical problem of a site could bring about geotechnical problems to other neighbouring sites.

    Lets us all hope that the umno government realise what it means to say:


    Quite frankly, I have had more than enough of them.

  40. #40 by Norime on Tuesday, 9 December 2008 - 10:10 am

    From Malaysiakini:
    “Reinforce hill projects or face blacklist
    Dec 8, 08 5:05pm
    Protect and reinforce all hill slopes projects or be blacklisted, Selangor state assemblyperson Elizabeth Wong warns developers and land owners.”

    Hail the new BN, Pakatan Rakyat! Either they are equally as complacent, or inexperienced bimbos.

    I say stop the evacuate the Bukit Antarabangsa and its vicinity. Period!

  41. #41 by AhPek on Tuesday, 9 December 2008 - 10:29 am

    Taiking has given us a pretty good account on what affects soil stability and the part that water plays in it..Thus in an area such as a water catchment area like Bukit Antarabansa the part that water plays in affecting soil stability becomes even more pronounced.The question that could probably be asked in trying to understand this Antarabangsa slope failure is that since houses are built on the slopes of Bukit Antarabangsa, which I believe the authorities are fully aware that it is a water catchment area, what steps have MPAJ taken to ensure proper drainage and what sort of maintenance of whatever existing drainage present is carried out to ensure proper flow of water out of the hill slope instead of seeping into the hill?

  42. #42 by madmix on Tuesday, 9 December 2008 - 10:31 am

    Why do people keep buying houses and condominiums located on slopes and foot hills? Good Feng Shui to some. Dragon hills behind give strength and prosperity. But dragon gets angry and eats inhabitants who disturb him.
    When the buying stops, the building ceases.
    The people can decide. No need to blame developers and corrupt officials after all it is buyers money that grease them.
    Remember the wise words of Madmix: when the buying stops, the building ceases!

  43. #43 by wahai kawan on Tuesday, 9 December 2008 - 10:39 am

    Prevention is better than cure. While I note the good intentions by the new ruling Selangor government, may I know what preventive measures has been taken for those EXISTING houses/apartments/condos that has already been build & approved ALREADY by MPAJ???

    We should have programs to check the living ones instead of writing good essays for the lost ones.

    Ini baru betul mah! PR has control over 5 states! Please ENFORCE them in this 5 states IMMEDIATELY !!!

    Talk is cheap! We want actions before innocent lives are taken away AGAIN due to irresponsible developer’s unethical criminal negligent.

    By the way, this immunity law that protect the local council from any wrong doing is unconstitutional! NO ONE SHOULD BE PLACED ABOVE THE LAW! Rulers also don’t have such immunity! Why they have ?

    Thank you!

  44. #44 by sheriff singh on Tuesday, 9 December 2008 - 10:54 am

    Why do all these and other ill-conceived projects get appproved?

    Ever heard of the Big C – Corruption? Since the local authorities are immune and cannot be blamed or sued, then there are very strong incentives to just approve anything – and be richer for it. Is this very hard to comprehend?

  45. #45 by PSM on Tuesday, 9 December 2008 - 10:58 am

    Bro Kit,

    Another RCI? Ayoyiiii…when have the RCIs ever helped? Look at the RCI on the Police & the Lingam Tape RCI! To date we are still waiting for something to be done!
    As long as there are greedy Government Servants in the “Majlis-majlis Bandar” & as long as we have a corrupted Government in place, nothing will ever change. As the good Dr. said, in 3 month’s time, the tractors will be back & life will go on as usual.
    My deepest condolences to the victims of this tragedy & the victims of the Bus Express tragedy (what is the Transport Minister & the Government going to do about this? NOTHING!).

  46. #46 by HJ Angus on Tuesday, 9 December 2008 - 11:07 am

    Taiking has written a very good description of how water changes the soil properties.
    The problem is compounded when in a large area like Bukit Antarabangsa there are different developers and not just a single one so I guess there isn’t a masterplan for the entire hill area and that complicates the water flow problem.
    Of course the safest solution is that we do not build on hills at all but that is not practical as there is always the pressure to develop land for habitation and the Selangor’s ban on slopes greater than 25% is a good starting point.
    I believe that the local authority should have the authority AND responsibility to control and rectify the safety of such hill-side development.
    For a start, they must provide and enforce the masterplan and drainage system for the entire hill area and where the hill comes under different local councils, they are jointly liable.
    But that verdict absolving the local council of the Highland tragedy needs to be reversed before people will regain faith in local authorities.

  47. #47 by OrangRojak on Tuesday, 9 December 2008 - 11:16 am

    I imagine the problem now is the same old problem: money. Who would pay for a credible site, soil and building quality survey? How do you know the house you’re sitting in, reading my comment, hasn’t been built on top of the Temple of Doom, and you’re just about to drop into the abyss, Indiana Jones style?

    When the ownership of hillside developments has passed from developer to agent or resident, the opportunity to check safety has passed. People would rather live in ignorance: who is going to pay for a survey that might tell you you need to pay more for remedial work?

    For those of you pointing the finger at local government – what can they do? Carry out the checks now that their predecessors carried out? And then what? Tell residents their houses are unfit for habitation? And then what? Forcibly evict residents from their own homes for their own safety? It’s not a vote winner, is it?

    I’m not sure whether Malaysians have enough faith in Malaysian law to do what they should if they’re a resident of a hillside development: have a high-quality survey done and sue developers where defects are discovered. I imagine there’s some sort of time limit on developer liability, is there? In any case, what chance to residents have of proper compensation even if a court awards it? If you’re a resident of an expensive hillside development, you would be mad in Malaysia to express any public doubt over the safety of your own property – think what it would do to its value!

    For Malaysians to be stimulated into action, I would think they would have to be hit where it hurts the hardest: their wallets. I would recommend removing some of the regulation protecting your residential property agents. Where I come from, anyone and their dog can become a residential property agent, and every high street is full of agents’ shops. The value of houses are well-known, and very sensitive to news affecting their long-term investment value. Let Malaysians see their hillside property drop in high-street value by 50% on safety fears, and I think you’ll see more of them pushing developers for safe homes, and more paying for expensive surveys that confirm the value of their property. Markets in Malaysia are far too protected to invoke ‘caveat emptor’ – beware of what? There’s no information!

  48. #48 by max2811 on Tuesday, 9 December 2008 - 11:28 am

    I read about selective rescue being practised at the site. Same type of incident during the floods in Johor. Looting had also occurred. Can YB pls investigate if the accusations(about selective rescue) are true?

  49. #49 by sivasundram on Tuesday, 9 December 2008 - 11:32 am

    One more tragedy and the usual blame game has started. Every tragedy in this country, whether it is the bus accident, hillside and the lack of enforcement in every sphere of the Malaysian life, all points towards CORUPPTION period. This is the legacy of the present day Government! The politicians and the civil servants engaged in anything related to bublic service have absolutely no conscious or feeling whatsoever. I wonder how they sleep at night?

  50. #50 by cto on Tuesday, 9 December 2008 - 12:35 pm

    waterfrontcoolie Says:

    Yesterday at 22: 00.23
    Godfather, the point high-lighted is relevant but what the hell those ‘A..Holes still want to buy such houses? To me, the first incident we can sympathize with them for being misled but by now I can only conclude ‘You ask for it!!!’, what else can you say?.

    madmix Says:

    Today at 10: 31.21 (1 hour ago)
    When the buying stops, the building ceases.
    The people can decide. No need to blame developers and corrupt officials after all it is buyers money that grease them.
    Remember the wise words of Madmix: when the buying stops, the building ceases!


    I personally find the above postings offensive and insensitive. Families have been displaced and lives were lost and all these two posters can say is “Serve them right”.

    Using their logic, people who got injured or died in the lastest bus tragedy deserved what they got too.

    Do you understand what “accountability” means? And the term “information asymmetry”?

    Wise words? Sir/Mdm, I think you don’t know what you are talking about.

  51. #51 by AhPek on Tuesday, 9 December 2008 - 12:39 pm

    YB,I’ll like to quote from your posting ‘Another Highland Tower In The Making’
    written sometime in 2007 whilst you are still in political wilderness.

    ‘With the collapse of Highland Tower and the landslide that happened in a retired general’s house in Ulu Keland area,I thought the government has issued a statement that there will be no longer development being allowed to be carried out in foothill near that area.
    However today as I was cycling in that area,I notice they are clearing the land near Jalan Melawati 4.With such indiscriminate clearing of land near foothills,we are having a Highland Tower incident in the making.
    Not to mention it’s a waste of land by just building less than 100 houses and they are destroying the environment at the same time.’

    YB,that’s the trouble.They will never listen to you cos you are Lim Kit Siang.To be sure people,policymakers,local authorities and developers did not learn any lesson from the collapse of Highland Tower block1 because it simply boils down to money.Thereis huge profir all round for everyone!!!

  52. #52 by melurian on Tuesday, 9 December 2008 - 12:57 pm

    “The people can decide. No need to blame developers and corrupt officials after all it is buyers money that grease them.”…

    when china-made crt exploded, it is the customer being blamed for buying cheap product.

    when highland tower collapsed, it is the customer being blamed for buying nice fengsui but risky place.

    when proton car kemek like sardine tin, it is the customer being blamed for buying malaysian car and not foreign high quality one.

    when bus express crashed and splitted, it is the customer being blamed for not opting airplane or train (ktmb poster showed this!)

    so, when any tragedy happens, don blame seller, blame buyer, welcome to the capitalist world…..

  53. #53 by frankyapp on Tuesday, 9 December 2008 - 1:10 pm

    Brother Lim,why talk to these UMNO/BN sleepy PM,DPM and other ministers about resignation and political will to form a royal commission of enquiry ?.All these years in your political career,you should know their mentaltiy. They will say,sorry,since it’s not under my time,I will not comment on this disaster.The PM will tell you ,sorry I can’t do anything as I am leaving in march.The DPM will say,sorry,I am not involved,go ask Ong Ka chuan who will ask you to contact sammy vello and he will say,sorry lim,I am no more the works minister Go ask the new works minister who will say sorry,it’s not under my time.The buck will go round and round as these sleepy guys just remain in their bolehland dreaming ,dreams ater dreams. But brother Lim,please don’t let your bxlls be squased by them.Please continue to fight these sleepy guys. We will back you when the 13th general election comes.

  54. #54 by maryanne on Tuesday, 9 December 2008 - 4:11 pm

    can I ask a little question – were any of the DAP/PR elected people sacrificed their precious holiday to be on hand to volunteer assistance to the affected victims after the period after the tragedy? I really hope so

  55. #55 by Richardqed on Tuesday, 9 December 2008 - 6:00 pm

    YB Lim,

    Why bother with an RCI into the Bkt Antarabangsa incident when the present Selangor Govt can conduct its own investigation? There is nothing to prevent the Selangor Govt from investigating and to take harsh actions against the errant local councils who have been negligent.

    In Selangor, no one has been punished yet, so they can’t use the “double jeopardy” logic that LGE used in Penang. Let’s see whether the state govt will be able to nail the culprits, and hopefully we will not hear the same excuses that BN loves to use.

  56. #56 by de_Enigma on Tuesday, 9 December 2008 - 6:51 pm

    Until the day, we changed the system into which it allows the public to hold person responsible accountable for their actions involving the public. We can carry on debating on the blame game as there will be more to come.

    It is so easy to be negligent:
    Things screw up, PIC got transfer to different department since government don’t fire staffs. By the time he finished screwing up the second department, time to retire.
    Remember, big disaster happens in only 15 years?

    The people responsible is probably laughing now while thinking whats next.

  57. #57 by rossi on Tuesday, 9 December 2008 - 9:55 pm

    When developers grab lands in sly ways to put up cosmetic looking property, like on the Alps or to give a feeling like we were in Beverly Hills. The affluent rush to grab,– thinking all is well with the way the property was developed — its normal to think with the advert board put up by the the Authorities of the engineering deatils and persons responsible .
    What is do not see is who approved it — could have been some dropout who wouldn’t know the difference between an egg and a hen– maybe an office clerk like in the case of Highland Towers.
    For the guys like Najib to just say “in future no more hill side development” is farcical!
    Knowing Malaysian mountain crops are mostly limestone based with just mud covering –is like walking on slippery marble tiles with plastic slippers. In this age of technology. What ISO rating do our Ministries have ? Would Najib blame the French if we lost a sub at sea?
    I thank VEHIR for the site
    Glad there are lots of younger Sdr LKS taking on to expose the dark side of the ruling class.

  58. #58 by waterfrontcoolie on Wednesday, 10 December 2008 - 12:00 am

    cto, transport unit is mobile whereas the building is permanent! Of course, more people get killed on the road than staying in their houses, hence to buy a house you look for safety and surely building a house at the slope is not safe, COMMON SENSE!
    A motor unit is driven on a road with so many other users, that is the difference! You still have an option not to ride a bus, even an public money collecting bus, if you think the driver is not competent.
    In the case of a house, if you have decided against common sense, then what can be said?

  59. #59 by jartze on Wednesday, 10 December 2008 - 3:52 am

    waterfrontcoolie, I hope you know what you are talking about. ‘building a house at the slope is not safe’ is NOT common sense at all! There are many houses built at the slope around the world, you never hear this kind of accident happens. Why only happening in Malaysia? And it happens so often!! Because the constructors ignored the safety inspection and corrupted the officers to let them build houses even though they knew that place is not safe. Now you gonna put the blame on the people who bought the houses without knowing anything, and forgive those who built the houses and covered up everything just to earn money, that doesn’t make sense to me at all.

    Selangor government, please do something. I am tired to hear the phrase ‘sue me if you got evidence’. Is it true that no one need to take responsibility everytime something happens? It is true that the only way to punish them is through central government (which we know they won’t do anything)?

  60. #60 by undergrad2 on Wednesday, 10 December 2008 - 4:53 am

    It is the job for the investigative journalist. But files would have gone missing by now,

  61. #61 by undergrad2 on Wednesday, 10 December 2008 - 4:57 am

    If I were one of the residents and is now compelled to abandon my home, I’d gather the evidence by foul or fair means and sue the various parties for my loss. Various parties are vicariously liable.

  62. #62 by taiking on Wednesday, 10 December 2008 - 8:34 am

    Oi toyol. U dekat mana?

  63. #63 by Bigjoe on Wednesday, 10 December 2008 - 8:41 am

    I was surprise they have a law that protects the local councils from being liable for these kinds of things (The street, building, drainage Act)? How on earth did something like this exist for so long without people being aware of it?

    The insidious things BN cronies does to protect themself and extend their power over the years…

    How many more such laws are in the books?

  64. #64 by AhPek on Wednesday, 10 December 2008 - 10:30 am

    Where are you? Gone into hiding or what? Your shit stirring against PR assembly men and women has to be temporary halted isn’t it?

  65. #65 by k1980 on Wednesday, 10 December 2008 - 10:52 am

    From Malaysiakini: Do victims have to pay their “rescuers”?
    A sad tale of tragic death, accusations of callous, apathetic and unhelpful rescue personnel, and looting of a damaged house in the Bukit Antarabangsa landslide.

    The father in law of the victim claimed that when he returned to the house on Sunday morning, he was shocked to discover several men in uniform lying on his bed, smoking and drinking his wine. He said he lost 80 bottles of expensive wine worth RM160,000 and six watches worth RM180,000.

  66. #66 by waterfrontcoolie on Wednesday, 10 December 2008 - 1:29 pm

    jartze, I believe you are old enough to realize the nonsense going on all these years. In other countries, the rules are rigidly enforced here in Bolehland, magic is everywhere. So knowing that magic can happen, one would prefer to take less risks. Do remember that many of our contractors do work across the Causeway; over there, they appear to follow the rules. Why? you and I know the reason.
    The issue is: why take the unnecessary risks when you are in no position to minimize it? As I have pointed out elsewhere, here we have so-called professions who would join the ‘MOB’ just to earn their keeps. Simply because the power that be just does not care for anything, so long that their interests have been taken care of.
    Having witnessed so many such ‘1/2 past 6’ incidents, one needs not be a rocket scientist to make a ‘ common sense’ decision. Or does it?
    Essentially, this is Bolehland; building on hill slopes has been shouted at, rallied against for all kinds of reasons and yet the moment the power that be can push it through, you can see people lining up to purchase them. Why? Yo ma, basically, it is GREED! that drove them in the first instance!! Period.

  67. #67 by cto on Wednesday, 10 December 2008 - 2:50 pm

    waterfrontcoolie Says:

    Today at 00: 00.25 (14 hours ago)
    cto, transport unit is mobile whereas the building is permanent! Of course, more people get killed on the road than staying in their houses, hence to buy a house you look for safety and surely building a house at the slope is not safe, COMMON SENSE!


    Er…. I am trying to follow your logic (or rather your common sense) here. More people get killed on the road, therefore when buying a house, you look for safety. :0 Is the logic here fuzzy or is this fuzzy logic that you are expounding here?

    With your common sense, you will probably conclude the following –
    1. No addicts, no drugs traffickers.
    2. No borrowers, no Ah Longs.
    The problem lies with the addicts and the borrowers. Don’t blame the traffickers and the Ah Longs. After all, they are doing society a favour by getting rid of those at the shallower end of the gene pool.

    I don’t know you personally but let me hazzard a guess – your favourite singer is Bob Marley and your favourite song is “No woman, no cry”.

  68. #68 by Thomas Lee on Wednesday, 10 December 2008 - 8:10 pm

    It is a joke when the PM and DPM said that all hillside development should be stopped.

    Who, in the first place, gave approval for these projects?

    In Selangor, it was the Barisan National state government and the Barisan National controlled local councils that approved these projects despite protests from the people and the NGOs.

    If no official approval was given by the then Barisan Nasional administration at state and local government levels, then there would have been no such development projects.

    When the new Pakatan Selangor state government ordered such projects to be stopped, who objected to the directive? The companies owned by Barisan Nasional businessmen. And who championed their cause? The Barisan Nasional leaders.

    Illegal structures such as the so-called private palace built by an Umno warlord was given a small token fine and approved.

    If the Barisan Nasional leaders are really sincere and care enough for the people, such questionable and unsafe projects would not have been approved.

    The only way such disaster could be avoided is for the voters to bring in a new federal government. We can see the improvement taking place at the the Pakatan Rakyat controlled states of Selangor, Penang, Perak, Kedah and Kelantan. Otherwise, the same old disasters will continue to be repeated every other years, and more illegal warlord palaces will be built.

  69. #69 by alancheah on Thursday, 11 December 2008 - 8:48 am

    Time to change the new government!

    Enough is Enough!

  70. #70 by bennylohstocks on Thursday, 11 December 2008 - 3:26 pm

  71. #71 by undergrad2 on Friday, 12 December 2008 - 1:39 am

    “The father in law of the victim claimed that when he returned to the house on Sunday morning, he was shocked to discover several men in uniform lying on his bed, smoking and drinking his wine. He said he lost 80 bottles of expensive wine worth RM160,000 and six watches worth RM180,000”

    That is not too bad. Another man reported catching a rescuer in the act of screwing his dog!

  72. #72 by undergrad2 on Friday, 12 December 2008 - 1:41 am

    “The father in law of the victim claimed that when he returned to the house on Sunday morning, he was shocked to discover several men in uniform lying on his bed, smoking and drinking his wine. He said he lost 80 bottles of expensive wine worth RM160,000 and six watches worth RM180,000?

    That is not too bad. Another man reported catching a rescuer in the act of ‘having fun’ with his dog!

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