Heed our town planners


ON JUNE 18, a motion urging the state government through local authorities to investigate and stop any development projects implemented without planning permission was passed at the sitting of the Selangor State Assembly. It was hailed as a historical occasion because it was the first time in the country’s 57 years of existence that a motion tabled by the Opposition was passed.

While all the hype was focused on the “historical” occasion, the essence of the motion tabled by Barisan Nasional’s Jeram state assemblyman Amiruddin Setro was sent to the back burner.

The core issue was of course the unplanned development which has spiralled out of control with the existing infrastructure unable to cope with the resulting demand for utilities, traffic flow and the lot.

While the motion centred on “projects implemented without planning permission”, there are scores of “approved” projects which are inconveniencing the public.

Large tracts of land originally meant for recreation and agriculture have changed hands with a view that they could be converted for residential or commercial purposes.

The Lebuhraya Damansara-Puchong (LDP) is bursting at its seams with traffic flow exceeding 130% of its capacity. Hence the daily crawl at peak hours. Yet, local authorities have been approving applications for massive development along the highway without considering how it will affect the public.

Town planning requires integration of land use, transport and utilities to improve the built, economic and social environment of communities. It is a process concerned with the use of land and design of the urban environment.

Sad to say, our town planners have little say when it comes to development. As usual, the bureaucrats and politicians control the show when it comes to approvals.

Are the town planners consulted before zoning of land is changed? Is anyone bothered if additional infrastructure will be needed and how much it would cost before approval is given for the development of a township?

The often given excuse is that “two highways have been planned for the area which should take care of the traffic problems.” But does anyone wonder where the water is coming from and if the existing waste water system can cope with the extra houses?

But in such instances, could the planning be withheld pending the construction of the highways?

Our universities are producing town planners with expert knowledge of urban planning practice to meet the needs of our developing nation. However, are they being given the room and the opportunity to put into practice what they learnt?

Will his or her objections to planning applications be taken seriously? Are they brave enough to incur the wrath of their political bosses who for their own selfish reasons want to push through an application?

These are the realities and the motion has much more to do than being dubbed as historical. The rationale for the motion cannot be dismissed without discussion by the powers that be. It deserves the serious attention of our lawmakers both at state and district levels. And for the benefit of all, please listen to our town planners.

Looking back

THIS advertisement shown below was sent to me by a reader. Although undated, I believe it was published in the sixties when a cup of coffee was just 10 cents and a glass of beer was less than a ringgit. Yes, inflation has taken its toll but it was an era when people of all races could sit together, have a few drinks and laugh at each other without someone labelling it as “maksiat”.

It is said that local movie stars could be seen at BB park with their stengahs and beer glasses. It was an age of innocence but have you wondered why we have lost it and the minds and views of a few have become blinkered?

R. Nadeswaran is editor (special and investigative reporting) at theSun. Comments: [email protected]