Selayang Council must come clean

R. Nadeswaran
The Sun Daily
30 October 2012

IN early February, 2006, I was at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport awaiting the arrival of passengers on Flight MH9042 from Mauritius. Among them was a delegation from the Selayang Municipal Council which included nine councillors, the president, the secretary and his wife, two officials and four businessmen who had contracts with the council. They had also dropped by South African cities, among others, to study how public toilets are maintained and kept clean. I had then asked: “How did contractors become part of an official delegation? Don’t the rules require councillors to keep at arm’s length, dealings with suppliers of goods and services?”

Subsequently, I wrote outlining their programme in both the countries and asked what they had learnt when they were out shopping and sight-seeing all the time. As usual, the silence was deafening.

All these memories came back last week as I read about the same council and the proposed development around Batu Caves. Both sides – the present and past administrations – have started pointing fingers and let it be stated that it is not this writer’s intention to take sides but put the record straight. The remarks made by some of the past councillors who approved the development are so ludicrous that they have to be taken with more than a pinch of salt.

Former councillor and current Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk A. Kohillan Pillay who was one of those who went on the toilet inspection trip said what had been approved in 2007 was only a “planning permit” which did not specify the number of storeys.

May be, after all these years he has forgotten terms like “planning permission”; “development order” and other terminology because he is concentrating on foreign policy matters and more travelling. Thus, we shall not burden him compelling him to read the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 in its entirety. However, he should not overlook the central concept – the definition of what amounts to development.

“Development” means the carrying out of building, engineering, mining or other operations in, on, over or under land, or the making of any material change in the use of any building or land. Technically, if you want to build a permanent garage over your driveway, you have to get planning permission or approval.

If “planning permit” was issued, then it would have specified what could be built because the applicant has to submit the proposed plans to be deliberated by the planning department of the council after which they are presented to the council for approval.

You can’t submit plans for a bungalow and then build a condominium. That’s because the council takes into consideration whether existing infrastructure like roads, drains, power, etc would be able to support the development. So to say that it “did not specify the number of storeys” is crass, obtuse and ridiculous. It insults the intelligence of all right-thinking people.

There are no two ways about this matter. Did the council approve the plans and issue a development order? Did the council seek the views of owners of neighbouring property as required by the Act? Because of the sensitivity of its proximity to a place of worship, was there a public hearing?

These questions have to be answered by the council and its councillors who took part in the approval process. They cannot run away from responsibility by giving all kinds of excuses. In the meantime, in the interest of good governance, the state government should order the council to make available all minutes and other related documents so that Malaysians can see for themselves how the decisions were made.

R. Nadeswaran says it would be foolhardy to conclude that discerning Malaysians could be taken for granted and would swallow everything – hook, line and sinker. Comments: [email protected]

  1. #1 by monsterball on Wednesday, 31 October 2012 - 11:17 am

    Blame blame game is on to woo Indian BN and not offending the Indians by PR.
    However…the whole episode and fuss are made long before PR took over Selangor.
    Credit must be given to S’gore MB.. Khalid…having a cool head…ignoring all.

  2. #2 by SENGLANG on Wednesday, 31 October 2012 - 11:37 am

    It was very sad, especially for the Indian community. The MIC leaders have been the betray of the very own people who the claimed to represent and fighting for their rights. The very same leaders who have failed them. Many have been used by the greedy leaders since Samy time.

    Many commentary may not be as accurate but you simply can’t ignore the comments above by this R. Nades who has been written many many articles and have exposed many wrong doings by BN. He has since written a book on PKFZ.

  3. #3 by Cinapek on Wednesday, 31 October 2012 - 12:26 pm

    The has-been minister and the current Deputy Foreign Minister thought they had stumbled on a gold mine by using this issue to undermine the present PR Govt for the Indian votes. Instead, as usual with BN cheap tactics, they never think through the consequences of their actions and invariably the whole issue boomerang back on their faces. When you spit into the wind, you will get the spit back on your own face.

    Kohilan is playing on words because he has been caught out when Ronnie Liu expose his involvement. I cannot for the life of me understand how a person who can be appointed a Deputy Minister can make the mistake of not realising there are such things as approval records with the local council and the various other agencies who approved this project. What makes him think he can get away with it?

    I wonder what criteria does the PM use when he appoints people to be ministers or deputy ministers.

  4. #4 by Winston on Wednesday, 31 October 2012 - 12:27 pm

    Judging from what’s going on in this country, is it that difficult to visualise that the former state government is doing their best to hang all their past malfeasance on the PR?
    And the unkindest cut of all is that the PR has been pulling their chestnuts out of the fire all the time!!!
    Such things should galvanise the electorate to redouble its efforts to kick them out with relentless force.

  5. #5 by cseng on Wednesday, 31 October 2012 - 12:47 pm

    If the Council flue round the globe in searching for a noble aspiration such as – ‘how to keep public toilets clean’. Then, it is unrealistic to expect something like ‘…must come clean’.

    When the heart is clean, the actions look clean, when actions are clean, the council looks clean, when the council is clean, the public toilet definitely clean, it is given. Unfortunately it cuts both way.

    Why search the whole world, just peep into your heart.

  6. #6 by dagen wanna "ABU" on Wednesday, 31 October 2012 - 12:53 pm

    Stupid idiot said only a planning permission was granted.

    And in fact that was all to it. With a planning permission developer/project owner would go round looking for contractors (via tender usually except for umno contract where cronies would be invited to negotiate). Thereafter, work starts.

    That is to say, when an application for planning permission was submitted all the necessary details must be shown, including drains, lamp posts, roads, schools, mosques, buildings, no of floors etc etc etc so that all the necessary departments could then consider the application before a final decision is made whether or not to give planning permission.

    And the development, when completed, must not differ in any substantial way from the one approved in the planning permission. For example turning an approved 10 storey development into a 30storey one or changing an approved hotel development into an office block etc etc.

    Then again when umno gives approval it really means many things. Like say an approval to grant a gobermen loan for a certain project could well mean allowing the borrower company directors and major shareholders to use the loan for personal acquisition of oversea properties etc etc.


  7. #7 by yhsiew on Wednesday, 31 October 2012 - 1:30 pm

    ///May be, after all these years he has forgotten terms like “planning permission”; “development order” and other terminology because he is concentrating on foreign policy matters and more travelling.///

    Why did BN put inexperienced people on the job??

  8. #8 by SENGLANG on Wednesday, 31 October 2012 - 1:52 pm

    This shown how arrogant the BN leaders can be. To them as far as they see the money they think they do anything to silence off the people. They use technical term and legal interpretation to fool the people. They keep insulting the Malaysian public intelligent. This kind of political arrogances could be say was inherit from BN political master none other the Dr. M. All the konco-konco has no shame and learn them all and make full use to keeping fooling the people just with the sole intention to fattening them.

    This was one particular case where he tell lies with out a slide change on his face. He was real political master but on the wrong side

  9. #9 by Bigjoe on Thursday, 1 November 2012 - 7:50 am

    Admist all these finger pointing, the simple fact of the matter is WE ALL KNOW- UMNO/BN do these things routinely when they are in power- hillside development, public spaces, highways in the middle of residents etc.. They are ARROGANTLY RECKLESS..

    Face it, if people are upset about this, then they should know who to vote against. All the details really are immaterial.. With PR, at least you know they will not just brush it off..

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