Sunday, 7 December 2008

Landslide at Bukit Antarabangsa (Taman Bukit Utama and Taman Bukit Mewah) - 4 am, 6 December 2008: LESSONS NEVER LEARNT


(image courtesty of "Save Bukit Gasing" Website)


Read here for more

One of the earliest policy decisions made by the new Selangor State Govt of Pakatan Rakyat was to reject any housing and building applications on Class 3 and Class 4 hillslopes. This was decided on April 2, 2008 Executive Council meeting. Selangor became the first and only state in the Federation to have complied with the Federal Town and Country Planning Department’s “Total Planning Guidelines” 1997 (2nd edition, 2001) which states that NO housing development should be allowed on 25 degrees and above gradient slopes.

The Bukit Antarabangsa tragedy proves the correctness of the decision of the Pakatan Rakyat state government. Read here for more

Reports from NST and from The Star and from HERE

At least four people were killed while another was listed as missing after a massive landslide hit Taman Bukit Utama and Taman Bukit Mewah in Bukit Antarabangsa early morning of 6 December 2008. This was the 12th major landslide to hit the Ampang hillside since the Highland Towers tragedy in 1993 which claimed 48 lives.

Yesterday's incident claimed the lives of veterinarian N. Yogeswary, 40, her maid Surina, 30, accountant Ng Yee Peng, 30 and 20-year-old college student Shaiful Khaz Shaharudin.

About 5,000 residents of Bukit Antarabangsa were evacuated with about 2,000 on foot as two sliproads were created to give them access out of the vicinity when their sole exit was cut off.

The landslide, which struck at around 4am, swept away 14 bungalows in Taman Bukit Utama and Taman Bukit Mewah.

Coming less than five days from the 15th anniversary of the Highland Towers tragedy, this latest incident has raised questions on why this situation had recurred.

There were also questions why a geological firm, awarded a RM1.6 million contract to "solely monitor the geological conditions" in the Bukit Antarabangsa area, including earth movements, had FAILED to anticipate the incident.

Local government expert and lawyer Derek Fernandez predicts many more landslides in the Klang Valley. He said Bukit Antarabangsa was considered to be a high-risk area after the Highland Towers tragedy. He added,

“Despite knowing this, the PREVIOUS ADMINISTRATION (under former MB Khir Toyo) allowed development to continue in the area.

Overdevelopment and the inability of the infrastructure to cater for environmental changes and gross neglect in providing proper drainage systems for the area are probable causes of the landslide.

The total planning guidelines issued by the Federal Town and Country Planning Department prohibits development of slopes exceeding 25 degrees. This guideline has been largely ignored."

Flattened houses, buckled roads, uplifted vehicles, uprooted mature trees, fallen electric poles and layers of mud and debris marked the carnage that left many injured, crying, in shock and in fear of more landslides.

Among the heart wrenching stories are that of a father who tracked his son down in the rubble by calling him on his mobile phone only to find his hand sticking out still holding onto the phone; a mother who rushed in to save her son but lost her life; and a mother of a two-month-old baby who perished while the baby survived.


Lessons from Highland Towers lie buried in Bukit Antarabangsa rubble

Read here for more in Malaysian Insider


Baradan Kuppusamy


When Highland Towers collapsed in 1993, killing 48 people, was to announce a ban on hillside development. Today the government announced another ban on hillside development following the tragedy in Bukit Antarabangsa.

This latest tragedy happened about a kilometre from the Highland Towers disaster that struck 15 years ago almost to the day.

In between the intervening years hillside development has been taking place and at an alarming rate despite the tragedies.

Every November/December when heavy rains start, landslides happen and policymakers usually passed off the tragedies as an "act of God".

The forgotten lessons of the the Highland Towers tragedy, if complied with, would have saved many lives.

The shocking part of the Highland Towers tragedy is that LOCAL COUNCILS were absolved for their failures and held NOT liable for losses suffered by anyone should a building collapse.

In the Highland Towers case, (the court ruled) the Ampang Jaya Council was held NOT liable for losses suffered by the 73 residents of Block 2 and 3 and in the deaths of the 48 when Block 1 collapsed.

The 2-1 ruling held that local authorities like MPAJ were given full immunity under Section 95 (2) of the Street, Drainage & Building Act 1974 (Act 133) from claims for the pre-collapse period.
The majority decision delivered by Justice Abdul Hamid Mohamad said that if the local councils were made liable, it would open the floodgates to further claims for economic loss, and this would deplete the council's resources meant for the provision of basic services and infrastructure.

He held that it was unfair for rate payers' funds to be used to pay negligent suits.

Coming as it does from the Federal Court, the matter is decided unless it is reviewed by the same court. As such the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council then and now is absolved and NOT liable because the decision still stands.

The official inquiry that followed and the drawn-out court case over the Highland Tower tragedy highlighted the failure of the local authorities to control indiscriminate hillside development.

It also fingered hillside development laws that were rudimentary at best and worst, the Federal Court held in 2006 that local councils were not liable for damage caused by landslides and collapses — virtually giving local councils total immunity against negligence suits.

But the lessons are NOT learnt and the tragedy is repeated, said lawyers involved with the Highland Towers case.

"People, policymakers, local authorities and developers did not learn the lessons. The reason is the huge profit that is to be made.The profit in upscale hillside development is enormous all round and everybody — officials, developers and lawyers — are willing to close an eye" said a retired lawyer who was briefly involved in the case.


Lessons not learned after Highland Towers Landslide (1993):
here on the Highland Towers Landslide

Excerpts: Read here for more

"....We must come to the realization that for landslides, it’s the poor regulation of hillside developments that is at fault. A total of 6 lives lost possibly due to poor regulation, corruption and profit in just one week!

We can only hope that the new Selangor State Government will hold firm against the wanton destruction of our hillsides by developers. Hundreds and even thousands of unsuspecting residents that have put their trust in planning authorities will continue to be casualties if we don’t put a stop to such dangerous developments.

It is time that the public stand up and give full support to the Selangor State Government. Let the onus of proof on safety of hillside development be fully with the developer. Let town planners not compromise on any development to fatten the profits of developers.

Unfortunately for residents in Kuala Lumpur, City Hall is hard of hearing and wears tinted glasses. So, be warned and be ready to challenge them directly to protect YOUR safety.

Don’t be taken in by the many platitudes and promises of the Federal authorities.

Many promises and supposed regulations were in place, yet every hill in KL is not safe. Every green area is targetted for concrete.

Don’t believe me, just look at the KL Daft City Plan.. Sorry, I mean KL Draft City Plan....."
Read here for more

(Images courtesy of The Star, SinChew Daily and the Royal Malaysian Police)


Anonymous said...

In Malaysia lives always take the back seats when there's monies to be made. Look at the wantaon destruction of forests by the big timber companies in Sabah and Sarawak. These companies have political links. And they would like to call their activities 'sustainable logging'. Many indigenous tribes are displaced and their livelihoods threatened. Polluted rivers. Century-old burial grounds levelled. Irreversible environmental damage. Because timber means big moneys. Native customary lands bulldozed to accomodate oil palm plantations with all the links to the big guys in high level politics. It's all about money, money and more money. That's the mindset. Nothing else matters.

Anonymous said...


and i think they gonna add 1 more new subject for secondary school next year-LANDSLIDE SUBJECT..rite?

Anonymous said...

The previous local authority for town planning shall be taken to court for justice, the developer as well shall be punish, corruptions by certain people, iresponsible developer, thinking only making more money. The Highland Towers TRAGEDY is never a learned lessons to all, it's all about corrupted officers who approve such projects (previous government) evrytime when only many lives are involve, it's "hangat hangat tahi ayam" actions to stop all such projects, then few years down the road, those corrupted officers that approve such project will repeat the same mistake again, forgetting those disastrous deciso0n they have made.
Come on the flip flop PM, don't tell me you know nothing. Send those " corrupte officers to jai;l", they are the culprit who approve " Toyol the previous MB is one of them