At Kidex briefing, residents turn on Selangor Pakatan government

Tony Pua

(The Malaysian Insider) – Pakatan Rakyat lawmakers got an earful from irate Petaling Jaya residents yesterday evening over the controversial RM2.4 billion Kinrara-Damansara Expressway (Kidex) project, with some accusing the coalition of betraying and misleading the people who voted them in.

About 50 residents who were crammed into a tiny Rukun Tetangga base in Seksyen 4, Petaling Jaya, for a briefing were relentless in their criticism of the project and the Selangor Pakatan government which approved it “in principle”.

They accused the state government of going back on promises made in the coalition’s 13th general election manifesto relating to tolled highways.

They were also angry because they had voted Pakatan in on the promise that the coalition would consult the people before approving any project.

Residents’ emotions were so inflamed that the committee which organised the briefing had to remind participants to mind their language, after some started using coarse words.

The committee, which is marshalling residents to oppose the project, also had to step in when upset residents harangued Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua when he responded to their questions.

Pua was there to listen to their concerns and to share what was behind the Selangor government’s rationale for approving the project “in principle”.

He explained that the state government’s decision was not final and did not amount to a full approval for the project to take off. Kidex’s developer still had to fulfil a list of conditions before it can actually start work.

“There is still room to object and to protest. Pressure should be put on all sides, the local council, the state government and the Works Ministry which approved it,” said Pua.

Opposition to the project, which has been called the “Say no to Kidex” campaign, has been fierce with its organising committee collecting signatures from all property owners affected and holding briefings for PJ residents.

The committee has also held protests at the Selangor government headquarters in Shah Alam.

If finally approved, the elevated Kidex would cut through neighbourhoods that have been in PJ since it was founded almost 60 years ago.

Its proposed route would mean cutting through more than 3,700 parcels of land which include homes, factories, shops, shopping malls and schools.

The expressway is supposed to start from Bandar Kinrara before going through Petaling Jaya, Damansara Kim, Kayu Ara and ending near Bandar Utama.

Past reports have claimed that tenders to build the project have been awarded to firms linked to Umno lawyer Datuk Hafarizam Harun and the wife of former Chief Justice Tun Zaki Azmi.

“Say no to Kidex” committee member Mak Khuin Weng said it had organised about 15 similar briefings with residents from all affected PJ neighbourhoods, Damansara Kim and Bandar Utama.

They have also met with officials from two schools and a mosque in PJ.

“None of the people we have met liked the project,” Mak told The Malaysian Insider.

Even the people of Bandar Kinrara, which the project is supposed to benefit by cutting their travel time to the northern part of the Klang valley, also do not believe in its merit, said Kinrara state legislator Ng Sze Han.

The committee’s secretary David Yoong claimed in a 15-minute slide presentation that almost all of the project’s touted features and benefits were either misleading or not backed up by evidence.

“It will not solve traffic congestion as it exits onto residential roads which are bottlenecks,” Yoong said in his presentation, which drew wide applause from the audience.

“Kidex has also not submitted its report about how much traffic will be reduced once the highway is ready.”

Rejection of the expressway, however, was absolute among all residents at the briefing.

No matter which route the expressway would take, no matter how much congestion it would supposedly cut and no matter how much money was paid to them in compensation.

“We will not accept the highway even if they pay us RM10 million,” shouted one those present at the briefing.