Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Dap Secretary- General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang , at the meeting called by the ‘voice of Taman Midlands Committee’ for the residents who would be affected by the Taman Midlands project of Pangkal Permata(M) Sdn. Bhd held on Monday , January 3, 1994 at 8pm.
With a built-up area of more than 1,4 million sq. ft the Taman Midlands Projects of Pangkal Permata would require 1,5000 to 2,000 parking bays and not the 800 to 900 as stated by Pangkal Permata in a dialogue with the affected residents last week.
The people who will be affected by Pangkal Permata (M) Sdn. Bhd. ‘s million Taman Midlands ‘one stop centre’ Project must insist on their rights as rateplayers to be fully consulted before the MPPP gives any final planning approval for the project.
In fact, the first thing the MPPP should have done was to hold a dialogue in early November with the residents who would be affected by the Taman Midlans”one stop centre’ to seek their views and not to hold such a dialogue on 28th December 1993 after being compelled by the Penang DAP objections to the project in the earlier two-week Penang State Assembly meeting.
MPPP would have given approval to Taman Midlands ‘ One Stop Centre’ planning application in a month of its submission if three DAP Assemblymen had not given notice on November 23 to ask questions on it in the State Assembly on December7
There is no doubt that the MPPP would have rushed through planning approvals for Pangkal Permata’s Taman Midlands ‘One Stop Centre’ project in a matter of a month of the submissionof the planning applications on November1 , 1993 if not for the DAP.
Already , history was created by the MPPP when it took only 12 days to process the planning applications of Taman Midlands ‘one-stop-centre’ by all the relevant MPPP departments , and the planning applications returned to the developer for amendments.
On November 29, the Taman Midlands project planning applications went before the MPPP Planning and Buildings Sub- Committee, whose approval would for all intents and purposes meant MPPP planning approval!
However, by that time , the MPPP had known that on November 23, 1993,three DAP State assemblymen – namely Sdr. Chow Kon Yew( Pengkalan Kota) , Sdr K. Balasundram(Datuk Kramat) and Sdr. Ong Hock Aun( Air Hitam) – had given notice asking questions on the Taman Midlands ‘ one stop centre’ in the Penang State Assembly budget meeting beginning on December 7.
Fearing that the DAP would be making an issue of the MPPP’s award of the tender for the Taman Midlands 99-years lease to Pangkal Permata as well as the extraordinary speed of Pangkal Permata’s planning applications, a decision was taken to await the outcome of the Penang State Assembly proceedings first.
In the event, the MPPP’s fears were well-founded for the Taman Midlands scandal was one of the major issue of the recent Penang State Assembly budget meeting – resulting in the announcement by the Penang Chief Minister, Dr. Koh Tsu Koon, just before Christmas of the establishment by the State Government committee of inquiry.
The dialogue of December 28 had omitted important and critical issues of the Taman Midlands ‘ one stop centre’ project – as the illegality of the tender award and project, the unlawful sale of units and unlawful collection of booking fees
During the Penang State Assembly , I had thought that the Assemblymen for Kebun Bunga, Dr. Teng Hock Nam, would be am ally on the Taman Midlands ‘one stop centre’ issue as he had at first expressed surprise at the speed with which the units of Taman Midlands had been sold out, and he asked whether there was irregularity involved and whether there had been any approvals for selling the units even before thesigning of the Memorandum of Understanding between the MPPP and Pangkal Permata (M) Sdn. BHd on October 30, 1993.
However, Dr. Teng Hock Nam’s righteous indigmation proved very short-lived and this is why the belated dialogue which he arranged between the affected residents on the one hand and the MPPP and Pangkal Permata on the other on December 28, 1993 important and critical issues were omitted.
Two of these important and critical issues are:
Whether the Pangkal Permata’ s award for the 99 year lease and the Taman Midlands ‘ one stop centre’ project were both illegal as the Penang State Government had clearly not given its consent, as required under Section. 101 of the Local Government Act 1976 to the MPPP to award the lease to Pangkal Permata(M) Sdn. Bhd. And
The illegal sale of condominium and shoplot units and the unlawful collection of tens of millions of ringgit of booking fees in the form of ‘option investments permit, developer’s licence for the projects – and even before the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the MPPP and Pangkal Permata (M) Sdn Bhd.
It is also debatable as to whether the dialogue of December 28 is a genuine one, or a mere ‘diplomatic exercise’ to disarm and distract criticisms and objections without any intention to seriously deal with the worries and anxieties of the affected residents.
I will give four grounds for such about the genuineness of the dialogue of December 28:
Firstly , why wasn;t such a dialogue held earlier. If not for the stand and objections of the Penang DAP Assemblymen in the recent Penang State Assembly, the people in the recent Penang State Assembly, the people in the affected area would have been presented with a ‘ fait accompli’ and would be completely ‘ voice-less’ after the MPPP had speedingly given full approvals to the planning applications;
Secondly, there has been no official confirmation by the MPPP since the dialogue that it would require Pangkal Permata to commission a traffic flow impact study before it considers the planning application. This is important as when this issue was raised by the DAP in the Penang State Assembly, the State Government had replied that there was no need for such a study;
Thirdly, the consultant architect of pangkal Permata , Shariff Ali Jahad Ali, said at the dialogue that the developers are providing 960 car parking bays for the project although MPPP regulations required only 800 bays.
I understand that these figures are preposterous and seem to be based on a total built- up area of 850000sq. ft. for the Taman Midlands Project. However, according to the full-page advertisements taken out by Pangkal Permata(M) Sdn Bhd. In the local press on October 30 , 1993,the Taman Midlands One-Stop –Centre would have ‘a built-up area of more than 1,4000,000 sq.ft’.
I understand that with a built-up area of more than 1.4 million sq.ft the car parking bays required under the old MPPP regulations would be in the region of 1,5000 bays and under the new MPPP regulation , the number of car parking bays would be between 1,500 to 2,000.
This means that what Pangkal Permat is providing for car parking bays is grossly inadequate, and one can envisage the traffic congestion in the locality and the inconvenience and hardships to the surrounding residents on completion of the project.
Futhermore, why didn’t the MPPP officials explaine at the dialogue as to whether the Taman Midlands ‘ One Stop Centre’ would have to complu with the old or new MPPP regulations on parking bays?
Fourthly, why didn’t Pangkal Permata or MPPP put on public display all the plans for the Taman Midlands ‘One stop-centre’ , together with the details of the project like the Amusement and Retail complex, the 22-lane bowling alley, the two multiplex cinemas so that the residents can work out the car parking bay requirements?
Affected Taman Midlands residents should ask for a dialogue with Dr.Koh Tsu Koon if MPPP is not prepared to give two undertakings
The MPPP must gibe the people in the Taman Midlands area who would be affected by Pangkal Permata’s ‘One Stop Centre”project two categorical undertakings:
Firstly, that the MPPP mould not give any final approval for the planning applications for the project until there is the fullest consultation with the affected residents to hear their views, representations and objections; and
Secondly, that the MPPP would put on public display all the planning applications by Pangkal Permata for one month to ensure that the affected residents have a meaningful consultation process with the MPPP.
If the MPPP is not prepared to give these two under-takings, then affected residents should pursue the matter at higher quarters and ask for a dialogue with the chief mInisster, Dr.KOh Tsu Koon to get him to intervene in the Taman Midlands scandal.