Kg Baru redevelopment needs an Urda

Dr Mohamed Rafick Khan

Modified 29 Apr 2019, 8:39 am

LETTER | We refer to the Malaysiakini articles Keeping the old in Kampung Baru and Gov't plans to buy out Kg Baru, may need RM10 billion.

I agree partially with the first article. I agree there is a need to maintain a certain historical aspect of Kampung Baru, but the whole of Kampung Baru must have a realistic development plan before it is too late.

I agree that our past leaders had little appreciation of tradition and history and prefer to look at the dollar sign.

Currently, we can see in Kg Baru several tall buildings springing up on small parcels of land - high-density buildings with poor surrounding infrastructure.

Therefore the whole of Kg Baru must be redeveloped with modern business facilities and with a historical and cultural centre for the benefit of future generations.

A good example would be the development of Kg Glam in Singapore and its surrounding areas where an old palace was redeveloped into a Malay Heritage Center with an appropriate density of business and residential areas.

I disagree with the Federal Territories minister's approach of engaging parcel owners to buy out the land from the owners and the need to raised billions in sukuk to finance the acquisition.

This is unwise and not practical. There will be landowners who will blackmail the government by refusing to sell and the whole plan of redevelopment will fail.

For this reason, Kg Baru's redevelopment needs the power of an Urban Re-Development Act (Urda) and the appropriate Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).

The current Land Acquisition Act is not adequate enough for the government to acquire the properties in Kg Baru without being challenged in court. Therefore, a specific Urda is required.

Kg Baru should be acquired under the Urda and placed under a specific special purpose vehicle (SPV) that will offer either fair market value compensation or a share of the SPV. For a start, the name Kg Baru and the prominent names applied to its streets should be retained.

Those who appreciate the long-term value of the investment would prefer to take shares rather than cash and maintain an appropriate sense of belonging to Kg Baru.

The SPV can raise funds or get listed to cover its development plans. What must be made clear is that the comprehensive redevelopment plan must be regulated by the URA which emphasises a holistic comprehensive and balanced development.

The “value add” of this approach is the economic spillover that will help the nation as well while at the same time retaining the history of Kg Baru.

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

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