by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Monday, June 6, 1994:
Ting Chew Pen should be more sensitive to the feelings, anguish and pain of the Highland Towers residents instead of making insensitive and tactless remarks
The Minister for Housing and Local Government, Datuk Dr. Ting Chew Peh, should show more sensitivity to the feelings, suffering, anguish and pain of the Highland Towers residents, and in particular those who have lost their loved ones in the Highland Towers Tragedy last December, instead of making insensitive and tactless remarks.
What will be Dr. Ting Chew Pen’s present feelings and reactions, for instance, if he had a son, daughter, father or mother among the 48 who were killed in the Highland Towers Tragedy in December 11 last year?
Chew Peh’s statement in Ipoh yesterday telling Highland Towers Residents’ Committee and other parties to stop speculating on the cause of the collapse of the Highland Towers condominium is one of the most inane, insensitive and totally unwarranted statement to be made by a Cabinet Minister in recent times.
Does he know that the Highland Towers residents have never stopped speculating on the cause of the collapse of the condominium since the December 11 tragedy?
Can he understand the anguish and agony of the Highland Towers residents to learn that the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council inquiry merely blamed the developer and the weak foundation for the collapse of the condominium?
If Chew Peh had been sensitive and could understand the feelings, suffering, anguish and pain of the Highland Towers residents, he would have ensured that the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council inquiry report is released as early as possible instead of making unsolicited and uncalled-for remarks.
Instead, Chew Peh seems to be putting off the date of the publication of the inquiry report further and further away.
Last Thursday, 2nd June, Deputy Prime Minister, Anwar Ibrahim, said that the Special Cabinet Committee will submit the report to the Cabinet within the next two weeks with the recommendation that the report be made public.
This means that the report could be submitted any time before 16th June and may be even for this Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting.
However, Chew Peh said yesterday that the Special Cabinet Committee would submit the report to the Cabinet in two weeks – which means that it cannot be earlier than June 20.
This is most unsatisfactory. Chew Pen does not seem to have heard the pleas for the immediate publication of the inquiry report. Furthermore, the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council report was submitted to the Special Cabinet Committee on May 20 -and there is no reason why there must be one full .month before the report is made public.
In fact, there is no reason why approval should be given by Cabinet before the inquiry report could be made public.
What happens if the Cabinet decided against making the inquiry report public or only in making public the general report and not the full report together with technical findings?
I would urge Anwar Ibrahim to heed the requests of the Highland Towers residents and the public in the last few days and ask the Cabinet this Wednesday itself to authorise the public release of the report.
In his statement in Ipoh yesterday, Chew Pen also said that the Police are also conducting their own investigations and would be responsible for prosecution if there is any evidence of criminal negligence.
By making such a Statement, Chew Peh seems to be making an admission that the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council inquiry is not complete or comprehensive at all. This is not conducive to inspiring public confidence in the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council inquiry report at all.
Special Cabinet Committee should set up a special task force to help the Highland Towers residents to resolve their many problems arising from the condominium collapse and the declaration that the remaining two blocks unfit for occupancy
The Special Cabinet Committee should also be responsive and helpful to the Highland Towers residents, who feel abandoned by the Government after eight days of national and international publicity last December.
The Special Cabinet Committee should establish a special task force to help .the Highland Towers residents ,to resolve their many problems arising from the condominium collapse and the declaration that the remaining two blocks are unfit for occupancy – in particular their financial problems.
This special task can be headed by the Law Minister, Datuk Syed Hamid Albar, who is also a member of the Special Cabinet Committee and should include representatives from various government agencies, including Bank Negara and the Director-General of Insurance.
All government assistance, help and facilities should be extended to the Highland Towers residents to resolve their many problems arising from the Highland Towers Tragedy.