by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjong, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Friday, 27th May 1994:
The Highland towers Collapse Disaster inquiry report should be made public immediately and every Highland Towers victim family should be entitled to a free copy
The Government should make public the Highland Towers, Collapse Disaster inquiry report as public interest demand its publication rather than having it classified as an Official Secret document.
Furthermore, every Highland Towers victim family should be given a free copy.
Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, said yesterday that the findings of the inquiry into the Highland Towers Collapse Disaster are expected to be made public but the final decision lay with the Special Cabinet Committee and the Cabinet.
The Housing and Local Government Minister, Datuk Dr. Ting Chew Peh said last week that the Special Cabinet Committee on the Highland Towers Collapse Disaster would decide next month whether to make public the findings of the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council’s inquiry into the Highland Towers Collapse which killed 48 people last December 11.
This is most strange and extraordinary. Why should the Special Cabinet Committee decide whether to make public the findings of the inquiry?
In a government which takes the principle of account¬ability seriously, there should be no question whatsoever in anyone’s mind, least of all in the mind of the Minister of Housing and Local Government, that the findings of the inquiry into Highland Towers Collapse Disaster would be made public.
In fact, once the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council in¬quiry committee had submitted its findings to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, the findings should be immediately made public without having to wait for the Special Cabinet Com¬mittee to study it or to decide whether to make it public or not.
The Special Cabinet Committee’s meeting after the Publication of the finding should be to consider what remedial measures the government should take arising from the findings and its recommendations, as well to consider public feedback and reactions to the Inquiry Report.
In holding back the publication of the inquiry report into the Highland Towers Collapse Disaster, Dr. Ting Chew Peh is being most insensitive to the sufferings and pain of survivors and family of victims of the Highland Towers Collapse Disaster last December.
In fact, the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council inquiry committee is already behind its own deadline as it had earlier promised to complete its findings by March.
In February, Dr. Ting Chew Peh had announced that a result of the Highland Towers Collapse Disaster, his Ministry would table in the April/May meeting of Parliament an amendment to the Street, Drainage and Buildings Act 1974 to make developers and site supervisors accountable for the safety of high projects. At present, only consultants are held liable for the safety of such buildings.
He said that the amendment would ensure that the site supervisors, consultants and developers are equally responsible in ensuring that every stage of construction is according to specifications and approved plans, and that this would ensure more professionalism in the construction industry to prevent a recurrence of the Highland Towers collapse disaster.
He disclosed that the amendment would also increase the penalty provided under the Act from the present maximum of RM54,000 or 10 years jail or both to a maximum fine of RM500,000, with the jail term remaining the same.
The April/May Parliamentary meeting had come and gone – but Dr. Ting Chew Peh had not presented any Bill for the amend¬ment of the Street, Drainage and Buildings Act 1974 as he had promised in February.
Is this another case of the ‘five-minute heat’ of Ministers who cannot sustain their interest and attention on issues and questions which, though no more the subject of news¬paper headlines, remain important public matters.
Can Dr Ting Chew Peh guarantee that such an amendment to the Street, Drainage and Buildings Act 19’74 would be presented to Parliament at its July meeting, or has there to be another Highland Tower Collapse Disaster before such an amendment would appear in Parliament?