Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Debunking the myths of Taman Subang Ria

This is my response to the former assemblyman’s article “It’s an urban park” published in The Star on 25 March 2010:

An urban park?
The former assemblyman continues to mislead the residents of Subang Jaya with the claim that the park was alienated as an “urban park”. Where did that term come from? The land title for the park which is currently held by Sime UEP Properties Bhd only states that the land is for recreational purpose [Tanah ini hendaklah digunakan semata-mata untuk taman rekreasi dan bangunan yang berkaitan dengannya]. According to Manual Garis Panduan Dan Piawaian Perancangan Negeri Selangor, recreational could mean a hall, food stalls, driving range, resort, water park and etc. That's the reason why Restaurant Crocodile Farm has been allowed to operate on the park all these years. It is not expressly stated anywhere on the title that it is an urban park unless the former assemblyman has access to other unknown documents which state otherwise.

Public hearings a waste of public funds?

The former assemblyman also claims that he has fervently rejected development on the park previously, up to four times. And then he surprisingly questions the need of an upcoming public hearing which MPSJ will be organizing.

A public hearing is a key element of Local Agenda 21, irrespective of history and personalities involved. Any proposed development must be subjected to a public hearing if there are objections raised by affected parties, and this is a principle of the new administration which I have strived to ensure that MPSJ upholds.

As to the upcoming public hearing on the proposal by Sime for subdivision and conversion of usage of the land, this proposal is different than the one that was presented in 2007. The public hearing in 2007 has only resulted in the developer withdrawing their application to develop the park. It did not resolve the issue at hand. As such, I find it completely hypocritical of the former assemblyman’s statement implying that it was perfectly alright for MPSJ to have conducted a public hearing in 2007 but not in 2010.

Why wasn’t the history revealed to the residents all these years?
The former assemblyman is very quick to dismiss responsibility of the previous administration over this long-standing quandary and one which the present administration has inherited.

The recent declassification by the current Menteri Besar disclosing details of the minutes of an EXCO meeting held in 1987 has exposed the dealings of the previous state government and the rationale employed then in alienating the park.

Taman Subang Ria existed prior to the alienation in 1987. I know this for a fact because I frequented the park as a young child in the early 80’s. Somehow in 1987, the then state government decided it wise to sell this park and at that point, Taman Subang Ria turned from a public park to a private park. Sime obtained a 99-year lease, and it will only expire in the year 2087.

Taman Subang Ria was part of the open space of the Subang Jaya township and corresponding municipality prior to 1987. Any calculation of available open space for Subang Jaya in 1987 would rightfully have included all available open space, and that includes Taman Subang Ria. The decision to alienate this public park to any developer at any point of time would be a most absurd decision, but sadly it has already taken place some 23 years ago.

“Over my dead body?”
The former assemblyman is somewhat fondly remembered for certain oft-quoted phrases, one of which takes the form of a public pledge that Taman Subang Ria can only be developed over his dead body. Some people may find the pledge heroic, maybe even self-sacrificial. I find it amusing.


Over the years, we have seen for ourselves how the condition of the park has deteriorated, even succumbing at one point to being a haunt for criminals. The lack of any decent upkeep and upgrade of facilities in the park over the years is very ironic in the context of the public pledge of the former assemblyman, almost validating the horrid statement that even if anything is to be done to better the park it can only happen over his dead body.


Such a public pledge has not helped the people one bit in the efforts to reclaim the park. In fact, the former assemblyman himself has confessed to having to reject development proposals four times in his more than a decade tenure as the assemblyman. I wonder why his public pledge did not manage to put a stop to further development proposals. Absolutely no progress was recorded in reclaiming the park for the people in his three-terms as an assemblyman. Not a single inch of land was gained; in fact more of the so-called “urban park” land was utilized during that time for the use of a car park by an adjacent private hospital.


State government should right the wrong?

And finally, the former assemblyman has proposed for Sime to surrender the land back to the state government without any indication of a viable mechanism and logical justification for land owner to commit to such an action. Why is this proposal only being floated now? Why wasn’t this pursued in his thirteen years as an assemblyman?


How to right 2 wrongs?

Let’s just wildly assume, hypothetically, that the current state government is to pursue the above course of action. In the recently declassified information, we have learned that Sime paid for the land in kind via an “exchange deal” or "timbal balik-kontra", providing the then state government with 10 units of houses situated in SS19, Subang Jaya. If Sime were to surrender the land today, the state government should fairly return the 10 units of houses back as well.


But guess what? Those very same 10 houses have in turn been used in another trade-off deal in May 2004, this time with another developer, Syarikat Gapurna Builders Sdn Bhd. This land-swap deal was revealed in the Selangor State Assembly last July 2009, and I duly published it on my blog immediately thereafter. This latest land-swap deal happened during the term of the former assemblyman. Knowing full well the importance of those 10 houses in SS19, having been traded off previously for Taman Subang Ria, how could this former assemblyman allow such a deal to take place yet again? How could he even contemplate repeating any of his public pledges today and issue public statements proclaiming his ‘undying’ passion for the park?


We need a new and fresh pragmatic approach

I am committed to ensure that current park users will be able to continue using the park for recreational purpose yet at the same time, finding a permanent solution for the land title to come back into the state government’s hand. I will host a public dialogue in the coming weeks to consult the residents on how this can be done amicably and practically. May this letter of mine serve to set the record straight and effectively re-align our efforts in reclaiming the park for the people.

10 comments:

u9 said...

Bravo Zulu. :)

Alan said...

Thanks for sharing the facts.

Alan.
USJ 8 Resident

Turtle said...

Thank you for the revelations.

I can't help but feel that this case is going to be an important chapter of local history, a fond subject to senior citizen in many developed countries.

Anonymous said...

Yes Hannah!!! My sentiments exactly. We cannot for the life of us understand that a huge and substancial piece of land which was used as public park can be traded, dealt, bartered and can be changed its original intended purpose.

It is now one of the last remaining bastion of green lung of Subang Jaya. NOT NEGOTIABLE!!!!
Whatever the mechanics of legality, I am sure the residents of Subang Jaya which are the main beneficiaries, will step forward in any manner to express and register our wishes that the park remain a park.

It is poor logic and unsustainable development with the already crowded high density areas of Carrefour / Subang Parade area and the SS15 areas left unchecked to encroach on to Subang Ria Park area.

Can we do a signature drive programme. All Subang residents pay quit rent, assessment in commercial exchange for the council/State to "better" our standard and quality of lifestyles/environment....not deteriorate it.

JLWH

Anonymous said...

Hannah,

Continue with your good work. We can see for ourselves your dedication as an assemblywoman.

Just ignore the previous BN assemblyman. He has already been consigned to the dustbin of history and no amount of spinning is going to change that fact.

Andrew

PrayerImpact said...

Dear Hannah,
Thank you for a really detailed and well-laid out explanation to help your constituents have a better understanding and perspective of this issue.

I am hoping that you have published this response in The Star as well ( besides your blog) as many more Subang Jayans need to know the truth in this entire matter.

Hannah, thank you for striving so hard to serve SJ in line with your CAT vision. I appreciate you and thank God for the CLEAN ADUN that you are. My full support to you.

a voter said...

Thank you YB, just came back & got to read this. Your explanation is clear & honest.

This is the type of attitude we need from those who sit in the public office. So contrast comparing to those who talked so much, act the other way & misled us going round the world, then came back still facing the same problem, worst is that the same problem repeated year after year for so many years !


Really appreciate & salute your courage & effort in taking up the responsibilty for a better Malaysia.

Anonymous said...

Dear Hannah,

This politician who had his say during his terms of office did not raise any issue on Sime UEP application for the development of the park and yet had the audacity to become a " hero " to champion the cause of an " urban park ".

He thought that memory is short in most of Subang residents but alas records do show.

This ex-assemblyman did not even know that public hearing is part of the good government and transparency process and a requirement of LA 21.

We know that the previous BN state government had made deals and approvals which did not follow town council guidelines and not in consonant with the needs and aspirations of the people. An example is the approval of Tropicana Mall where the entry and exit into a heavy traffic area like LDP and without any buffer zone from the road.The other controversial approval was the building across the road from PJ Hilton where the entry ramp is constructed above the motor-cylist lane.

How can the development proposal be approved by the MPPJ during the previous BN government is a big question mark.

You did the job of being a good and transparent state assemblyman and you should be happy with it.

This ex-state assmeblyman is just sour grapes and would try to make a political comeback.

Keep up your good job.

hurricanemax said...

Thanks for the updates, Hannah.
Keep up the good work thus far :-)

Haoniu7000 said...

Syabas Hannah for your effort in organising a dialog session with the Selangor MB last nite at H'Villa.

I am actually dealing with land and know fairly well on land law. I have some suggestions to offer. Where can I best send you my suggestion as to how to retain the Subang Ria Park?