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Berjaya Corporation acquiring 25ha land within the designated Bukit Kiara Park

Fencing has been put up to demarcate public and private space at Bukit Kiara. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, January 27, 2016. Fencing has been put up to demarcate public and private space at Bukit Kiara. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, January 27, 2016.

Nature lovers and hikers are urging the authorities to ensure that the Bukit Kiara forest is preserved after it was learnt that a developer is acquiring land in the area.

The Friends of Bukit Kiara (FOBK) has expressed concern after it learned that Berjaya Corporation, owned by Tan Sri Vincent Tan, had acquired or was in the process of acquiring about 25ha of the designated Taman Awam Berskala Besar (TABB) or large scale public park, the New Straits Times (NST) reported.

Its president Tan Sri Dr Salleh Mohd Nor said the move was against the original purpose of acquiring the private property which could only be used for a public purpose.

"Being in Kuala Lumpur, the land is extremely expensive. Thus, there are parties eyeing this property with a view for development. This should not be allowed," he was quoted as saying in a statement to the daily.

FOBK is a society formed to garner support to ensure the sanctity of Bukit Kiara forest.

The Malaysian Insider had previously reported that nothing had happened nine years after promises were made to turn Bukit Kiara, one of Kuala Lumpur’s most popular walking and biking spots, into a public “federal” park.

Instead, the land has been hijacked by property developers and fencing now surrounds the park. There are multiple developers involved, each working on private land.

Had things gone as promised, Bukit Kiara would be a park like London’s Hyde Park, to be developed and managed by the National Landscape Department (NLD).

The Cabinet announced this on July 5, 2006, and NLD was assigned the management and supervision of the park in August 2010, after Kuala Lumpur City Hall’s approval.

"However, far from being a green and peaceful haven, Bukit Kiara today is a scene of destruction, barricaded by developers' fences to demarcate public and private space," Salleh said in the statement.

Salleh said residents in the area had been actively fighting to preserve Bukit Kiara but had to deal with obstacles sanctioned by government agencies such as City Hall, as well as bureaucracy and a lackadaisical attitude. He said residents had tried unsuccessfully for many years to speak to the authorities about having buffer zones.

Salleh said the Bukit Kiara forest land (about 647ha) was acquired from a private land owner for a public park and under the land code, private land that had been acquired should be for public use only.

"A consultant was appointed to prepare a proposal that was accepted by City Hall in the late 1970s.

"Unfortunately, the government decided to award a large part of that area to a number of private recreation clubs, including the Bukit Kiara Equestrian Club, leaving only a small area covered by old rubber trees for the planned park.

"In 2007, the Cabinet responded to urgent appeals from the public and decided to gazette 466.86 acres (about 189ha) of the remaining vacant land for the establishment of TABB," he said in the statement.

To create awareness among the public and authorities on the urgent need to gazette Taman Bukit Kiara as a public park, FOBK is holding a "Walk for Conservation of Bukit Kiara" at 8am on Sunday. Residents in the area and other concerned citizens are urged to attend.

 

News Source: The Malaysian Insider, 27 January 2016

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