Malaysiakini Letter

Urban redevelopment needs to be holistic


I refer to the Malaysiakini article Gov't to propose a law to redevelop buildings without all owners' consent and I do hope the government will consider my views here.

We cannot run away from urban redevelopment for a city like Kuala Lumpur and others like it. The most common reason given is that the city needs to get rid of its ageing buildings and neighbourhoods. Though this is one of the reasons, in reality, any city is faced with the problems of overcrowding, traffic congestion and a poor system to support people mobility. 

With more people, the city needs more open spaces, schools and improved public transport and healthcare support. Unfortunately, this latest government proposal is only going to worsen the traffic congestion and hasten degradation of the city's infrastructure thus worsening the overall quality of life.

Minister Khalid Samad needs to see the big picture. I am surprised that as a minister he doesn’t see that. The idea of redeveloping a small parcel of land on the basis of a poorly maintained building is outdated.

To give the power to corporations to address strata redevelopment at the expense of minority owners is simply not right. Amending the law to do strata redevelopment reflects that the government is on the side of business owners and not the people. These businesses are in for the profit. 

We are aware of the issues surrounding Desa Kudalari, a well maintained 30-year-old condominium adjacent to KLCC where prominent business people are trying to oppress the rights of the minority by engaging the government to amend the laws.

It is imperative that a 100 percent agreement of all parcel owners must be obtained first and if the developer feels that he can give a good deal to all owners, then there is no reason for strata owners to object. We have seen this with the case of Razak Mansion and several PKNS projects. Therefore, the issue of urban redevelopment has to be looked at from a wider perspective.

Currently, the city infrastructure cannot cope with the increasing property and population density. City folks' quality of life is degrading with the sprouting of many tall buildings with a lack of appropriate development of public facilities like parks, schools, medical centres and other public amenities. 

Therefore, the issue of redevelopment must be looked from a wider scope beyond the boundary limits of one strata area and this must be done by the government and not the private sector

There is also a need to set up a specific government agency that looks at urban redevelopment from a wider perspective and which covers a wider geographical area. For instance, allowing several plots of land to be combined to create a bigger acreage for a more meaningful redevelopment that can support the needs of the local population.

This government agency must be equipped with the necessary legal powers to acquire, offer compensation, combine the small plots of land and do a “precinct” level holistic planning that looks at public infrastructure, people mobility and provision of public facilities to cater for a growing population with an ageing community.

The private sectors can participate in urban reconstruction once detailed planning has been completed. Such an agency cannot acquire or plan for one plot of land but must capture a certain meaningful defined acreage to ensure that redevelopment is done with the aim of providing residents with an improved quality of life.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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