by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Thursday, 23rd June 1994:
The key question is whether “neighbouring property owners” are the main parties liable for the collapse of Highland Towers or “contributory parties”
I welcome the announcement yesterday by Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim that the six-volume Ampang Jaya Municipal Council inquiry report into the Highland Towers Tragedy last December 11 which killed 48 people would be made public and released for sale next week.
Although Highland Towers survivors, families and the public must be disappointed that there is further delay in the publication of the Ampang Jaya Muncipal Council inquiry report, they hope that there would be no further delay in the publication of the report next week.
In this connection, Anwar Ibrahim should make copies of the report available to MPs and agree to a full parliamentary debate on the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council Inquiry Report into the Highland Towers Tragedy when Parliament meets on July 4.
From the further excerpts of the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council inquiry report, three parties have been identified as directly liable for the Dec. 11 Highland Towers disaster which killed 48 people.
The key parties named were the developer and owner, Highland Properties Sdn. Bhd., registered building draughtsman Wong Ting San from Konsortium Jurubina Perunding and Wong Yuen Kean of Waja Perunding.
The contributing parties were “neighbouring property owners” and local authorities.
It is a major defect of the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council inquiry report that it did not name these “neighbouring property owners” although the inquiry committee had also questioned MBF Properties which owned the neighbouring high-rise Bukit Antarabangsa apartment complex and Arab-Malaysian Finance which owned an adjoining property next to Highland Towers.
The inquiry report said that the adjoining property owners had by their acts and or omissions allowed a change in the direction of water flow at the upper portion of the slope and this led to a concentration of run-off water leading to the slope behind Block A of Highland Towers.
The key question is whether the neighbouring property owners are the main parties liable for the collapse of Highland Towers or ‘contributory parties’.
Despite the further excerpts from the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council inquiry report released by Anwar Ibrahim yesterday, many basic questions about the collapse of Highland Towers remain unanswered.
When I was at the six-month memorial service of the Highland Towers survivors and residents on June 11, I was told by eye-witnesses of how, just before the tragedy Block A of Highland Towers was lifted upwards by a few metres, trembled and then collapsed.
This will be in keeping with the .explanation that Highland Towers collapsed, not because of weak foundation, but because of a massive landslip impact of some 40,000 cubic metres of earth a few minutes before it collapsed.
I was also told that examination of the piling of the condiminium block which collapsed showed that they are still very strong and uncorroded, and the only point of fracture was where the building was sheared forward as a result of the impact from the massive landslip. The strength and solidity of the piling of the collapsed Block A was also illustrated when after the tragedy, JKR wanted to pull out the remaining piling and could not get them out.
Is the finding of the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council Inquiry consistent with these eye-witness accounts and facts which would point to the neighbouring property owners as the main parties liable for the collapse rather than the problem of weak ‘foundation?
Housing Minister, Dr. Ting Chew Pen, should set up a special task force to help Highland Towers survivors and residents to claim compensation for their losses
Final conclusions and judgements about the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council inquiry report must await until a study-of the full six-volume report after its release next week.
It is most disappointing that the Cabinet had not set up a special Cabinet committee headed by the Law Minister, Datuk Syed Hamid Albar, to help the Highland Towers survivors and residents on the vexing question of compensation for their losses.
Anwar Ibrahim announced yesterday that the Special Cabinet Committee, on the Highland Towers Tragedy has been resolved and that all follow-up action would be taken by the Housing and Local Government Ministry.
It is therefore the direct responsibility of the Minister for Housing and Local Government Minister, Datuk Dr.Ting Chew Pen, to set up a special task force to help the Highland Towers survivors and residents to claim compensation for their losses as a result, of the Highland Towers Tragedy last December.