Press Conference Statement by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjong, Lim Kit Siang, to launch his new book “The Highland Towers Tragedy” at DAP PJ Headquarters on Wednesday, September 7, 1994 at 11.30 a.m.
Call on Minister for Housing and Local Government, Datuk Dr. Ting Chew Peh to present a White Paper to Parliament next month on how his Ministry had helped the Highland Towers Tragedy survivors and residents resolve their problems.
Two days ago, four residents of Blocks B and C of Highland Tower’s were granted an ex parte application by the Shall Alam High Court staying the notice of the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council, on July 6 to demolish or repair the two blocks within three months.
Judge K.C. Vohrah also granted leave to the four residents, Dr. Benjamin George, Datuk Alladin Hashim, Chan Keng Fook and Sharifah Azaliah Tan Sri Syed Omar Shahabudin, on behalf of themselves and all the residents of Blocks B and C, to apply to quash the ‘demolish or repair’ notice of the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council.
The Technical Committee of the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council Inquiry into the Highland Towers Tragedy last December which killed 48 people recommended major rectification works for Blocks 2 and 3 to include the following:
* The front and back retaining walls must be redesigned and reconstructed. An adequate drainage system must be provided on the hillslope behind Blocks 2 and 3.
* The foundation system of Blocks 2 and 3 require strenghtening.
* Provision of surface drains must be reviewed to cater for the upslope developments.
* Regular maintenance of surface drains and monitoring of slope movements must be instituted.
In their suit against the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council to quash the ‘repair or demolish’ notice, the Highland Towers residents contended that:
* NOTICES should be given to the legal owner of the buildings which is Highland Properties Sdn. Bhd. as the tenants had no strata titles to the property;
* RESIDENTS of Blocks B and C should not be held responsible for rectifying the slopes behind Highland Towers or the inadequate drainage on the slopes as the buildings were intrinsically dangerous;
* OCCUPANTS or residents have no right and no authority whatsoever to repair the hillsides or its inadequate drainage system because the land belonged to someone else;
* IT IS impossible to repair the buildings within three months. The council had failed to consider that it takes time to get approvals from various government bodies.
I do not want to comment on the merits or demerits of the application, since it is pending in court, although all my sympathies and support are with the Highland Towers residents.
However, I find it most deplorable that the Highland Towers residents, instead of getting all possible help from the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council and other relevant authorities after the Highland Towers Tragedy, should be forced to institute legal proceedings against the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council to protect their rights.
When the Highland Towers Tragedy was the centre of national and international media attention, the Minister for Local Government and Housing, Datuk Dr. Ting Chew Peh and other government officials
promised to give all possible government help to the Highland Towers survivors and residents.
Now, all these promises are forgotten, and the Highland Towers survivors and residents are left to fend for themselves – and have even been forced to institute legal proceedings to protect their rights.
A sympathetic, helpful and responsible government authority, whether at the level of the Ministry of Housing and Local Government or the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council, which want to give all possible help to the Highland Towers Tragedy survivors and residents, would not have created this situation.
I call on the Minister for Housing and Local Government, Datuk Dr. Ting Chew Peh, to intervene and get the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council to withdraw its ‘repair’ within three months or demolish notice for Blocks B and C, and to set up a special task force to provide government assistance to resolve fill the problems of the Highland Towers survivors and residents, whether legal or monetary concerning compensation.
DAP will move motion in Parliament to cut Chew Peh’s salary by RM10 if he cannot satisfy Parliament that his Ministry has done everything possible to help solve the problems of the Highland Towers Tragedy survivors and residents.
Dr. Ting Chew Peh should present a White Paper to Parliament next month on how his Ministry had helped the Highland Towers’ survivors and residents to resolve their problems arising from the Highland Towers Tragedy.
Malaysian’s get the impression that while the Ministry of Housing and Local Govetmnent and the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council have forgotten about their promises to give all possible help to the Highland Towers Tragedy survivors and residents, the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council seems to be going out of its way to protect the ‘neighbouring property owners’ which had been identified by the Technical Committee of the Inquiry Committee as equally liable for the Tragedy.
I serve notice that if Dr. Ting Chew Peh fails to satisfy Parliament that his Ministry had done its utmost to help resolve the problems of the Highland Towers Tragedy survivors and residents, the DAP will move a motion to cut his Ministerial salary by RM10 as a protest, against his indifference and unconcern on this problem.
It is with the purpose of ensuring that the country should learn the right lessons horn the Highland Towers Tragedy, and to continue to keep the plight and sufferings of the Highland Towers survivors and residents in the forefront of public consciousness until their problems had been resolved, that I am launching a new DAP publication, entitled ‘The Highland Towers Tragedy’.
This publication, in English and priced at RM6, contains my parliamentary speeches, on the Highland Towers Tragedy as well as the findings of the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council Inquiry into the Highland Towers Tragedy.
It is a scandal of the first magnitude that the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council is charging the prohibitive price of RM1,600 for the Report of the Inquiry.
DAP believes that the relevant findings of the Inquiry should be made cheaply and easily accessible to all interested Malaysians, and this is why material findings of the Inquiry are reproduced in this publication as appendices.