Sunday, December 07, 2008

PM: Stop all hillside projects

KUALA LUMPUR: Enough! No more hillside housing projects at Bukit Antarabangsa, orders Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, meanwhile, calls on developers not to lobby or pressure the Government for any building permits for hillside development.

Heart-rending moment: Najib and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor visiting the tragedy site yesterday.

Abdullah was aware the decision would not go down well with some parties.

“I am sure this will incur the wrath of individual land owners and developers, but enough is enough,” he told reporters after visiting the landslide-hit area yesterday afternoon.

He ordered all hillside housing projects at Bukit Antarabangsa to halt immediately pending a soil stability study by the Malaysian Public Works Institute (Ikram).

“Future projects will also not go on to prevent any further worsening of the soil conditions at the hilly area,” he said.

Abdullah did not wish to take any further risks after nature gave two warnings – first in 1993 when Highland Towers collapsed, killing 48 people, and with the devastation yesterday.

In between, there had been various incidences of landslides around the Bukit Antarabangsa area.

“But Malaysians never want to learn from past experiences. They want good views while developers only seek to profit; but no one takes safety and soil stability into consideration.

Status report: Khalid briefing Abdullah on the landslide situation at Bukit Antarabangsa yesterday.

“We will be courting more tragedies if we do not (show) care and protect hillsides. Developers will stand to lose more,” he said.

Abdullah said early intervention was necessary. If slopes showed any possibility of weaknesses, remedial work must be carried out fast.

He added that the soil at the landslide-hit area was unstable as it was a water catchment area.

Abdullah said there was a building project nearby and this could have been another contributing factor.

He said Ikram had conducted a study at Bukit Antarabangsa in the past but it was stopped.

The institute would be asked to head a new team to conduct a fresh study.

Meanwhile, Najib said developers should not lobby or pressure the Government for any building permits for hillside development.

He added that preventive measures must be taken to avoid hillside tragedies.

At about 12.15pm, Najib, who visited the tragedy site, said the residents would be evacuated until after the search and rescue operations.

MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat who had just arrived in London said he was saddened after learning about the tragedy.

“I wish to extend my condolences to the grieving families who lost loved ones in the tragedy.

“For those displaced following the landslide and pining for hope to find family and friends, I pray that they will be strong in such trying times,” Ong said.

He said he had directed his political secretary to mobilise the party’s efforts and render whatever assistance to the victims.

PM: Stop all hillside projects
Malaysia Star, Malaysia -