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Friday, August 21, 2009

Selangor gov't caves in to developers' pressure? - Anil Netto

The Star today carries a report suggesting that the Selangor government could be caving in to developers’ pressure to allow projects on steep hill-slopes.

Selangor is reported to be drafting new “new development guidelines” for Class 3 (25-35 degrees) and Class 4 (above 35 degrees) slopes.

The state had earlier taken a commendable position to impose an outright ban on steep hill-slope development. Compared to an outright ban, “guidelines” are pretty worthless.

It’s a pity that the Selangor government appears to be caving in to the powerful developers’ lobby. Residents in Tanjung Bunga in Penang had been encouraged by Selangor’s previous principled ban on hill-slope projects. Alas, no longer, it would seem.

This just goes to show how powerful and influential the developer lobby is whether in Selangor or Penang. In the case of Selangor, the developers have reportedly threatened to move their projects from Selangor to Johor.

The Selangor government should have just called their bluff and told the developers to go ahead. Most of the property development in the country is focused on the Klang Valley and Selangor – which is already heavily built up. No sad loss then if the developers shift their attention to Johor and if the concrete and tar is spread around a little bit. It might even improve the quality of life in Selangor by reducing the pressure on precious green lungs and hills.

But no, the Pakatan Selangor government, by indicating it wants to review its hill-slope policy, has revealed how powerful the developers’ lobby is and how eager the state is to be seen as “pro-business” – even at the expense of being pro-people and protecting the environment. Its ban on steep hill-slope projects was one of the few issues that had set the Pakatan government apart from the BN government.

Just ask the folks in Bukit Antarabangsa what they think now.

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