Hillslope development in Malaysia: What Chow Kon Yeow did not tell you

“It tells you that the OSC was initiated for the purpose of cutting red tape and not to override departments as pivotal and significant as the DoE. But on the 23rd of October 2017, Chow Kon Yeow told a press conference that the DoE was ignored after the OSC took into consideration views of over 20 agencies that evaluated plans submitted by the Tanjung Bungah luxury high-rise developer, Taman Sri Bunga Sdn Bhd

THE THIRD FORCE

The Malaysian property development system comprises four distinct levels of planning. They are the National Physical Plan (NPP), Local Plan (LP), Structure Plan (SP) and the Special Area Plan (SAP). All these plans are concordant with the Town and Country Planning Act 1976 (Act 172) which, for all intents and purposes, was legislated to control and regulate town and country planning in Malaysia.

Now, this is important.

The reason being, wanton development of any township anywhere in the country causes massive changes to topographical maps. If these changes are not regulated, they bring about adverse effects that usually are of dire proportions. That explains what happened in Penang last weekend. Unregulated development over the span of nine years caused containment capacity requirements of major drains and rivers to change drastically.

When existing drainage systems and rivers can no longer contain or drain out gushes of water at fast-enough rates, that water gets stagnated and submerges large terrains of land. Last weekend’s flooding was further exacerbated by the reclamation of seafront areas, which, due to its sheer scale, prevented water from effectively being delivered to the depths of the surrounding sea.

But never mind that.

The Town and Country Planning Act 1976 (Act 172) is based on the National Development Planning Framework, which, in turn, is designed concordant with national, state and local level considerations. The framework provides an integrated plan that focuses on physical, environmental, economic and social development, in line with objectives stipulated by the Dr Mahathir Mohamad inspired Vision 2020 framework.

But the DAP did not want to have anything to do with Mahathir or his framework. That explains in part why Lim Guan Eng developed Penang as if it was his own backyard. In attempting to realise the Singaporean Twin City (STC) concept (READ ALL ABOUT IT HERE), Lim Kit Siang made clear that the state needed to amend guidelines pertaining hillslope development to keep in line with Hong Kong styled objectives set by his mentor, the late Lee Kuan Yew, in 1985.

In April 2007, the Malaysian government under the Ministry of Housing and Local Government initiated a One-Stop Centre (OSC) approval process for the sole purpose of improving delivery systems and procedures at all state-level municipalities. The central thrust of the OSC was to ensure that Malaysia remained globally competitive in the property and real estate sectors.

To accomplish this, the centre took on the role of independent facilitator to help fast track planning processes and the submission of plans to local authorities. Currently, the centre is integral to every local authority in every state in the country, Penang included. Prior to its introduction, building plans and associated drawings could only be submitted for consideration once layout plans were approved.

With its introduction, however, consultants were given the option of simultaneously submitting all drawings, namely the layout plan, building plan, road and drainage plan, earthworks plan and landscape plan. That having being said, all planning approvals were and as yet are subject to the planning permission process referred to under Section IV of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1976 (Act 172).

Now, what does this tell you?

It tells you that the OSC was initiated for the purpose of cutting red tape and not to override departments as pivotal and as significant as the DoE. But on the 23rd of October 2017, Chow Kon Yeow told a press conference that the DoE was ignored after the OSC took into consideration views of over 20 agencies that evaluated plans submitted by the Tanjung Bungah luxury high-rise developer, Taman Sri Bunga Sdn Bhd.

Question is, will Chow make public the views of all these agencies?

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