The new FT Ministry’s priorities: Kampung Baru, rivers, hawkers…third vote on backburner

(MMO) – Newly appointed Federal Territories Minister Khalid Samad said his immediate priorities would be to work on the Kampung Baru redevelopment project, the River of Life project, and hawkers’ welfare.

The Shah Alam MP also said he would form a working group comprising all elected MPs in the Federal Territories, including Barisan Nasional (BN) representatives for Putrajaya and Labuan if they wanted to join, so that they would have greater decision-making powers in the development of the Federal Territories. 

All Kuala Lumpur federal lawmakers are from Pakatan Harapan (PH).

“There are a few issues that are outstanding ― River of Life, Kampung Baru, and so on and so forth. I’ll have to study it and look into it,” Khalid told Malay Mail in an interview yesterday. 

He also said he would postpone “for a while” development projects that have been awarded but not yet implemented to understand them better first, but did not specify which ones.

When asked about the Taman Rimba Kiara development project opposed by Taman Tun Dr Ismail residents who claimed it encroached onto a park, Khalid said he was not very familiar with the issue and promised to look into it.

Khalid said he was informed that the River of Life project, which was launched in 2011 and aims to turn the Klang and Gombak rivers into waterfronts as part of efforts to make Kuala Lumpur a world class city, was not moving as fast as expected.

“We have to see what’s been holding up implementation,” he said.

National newswire Bernama reported that the Federal Territories Ministry told Parliament last November the River of Life project was 76 per cent completed and expected to be fully complete by 2020.

On the redevelopment of Kampung Baru, complicated by overlapping land title claims in the underdeveloped Malay enclave in the city centre, Khalid said he had to look at the current status of the project.

“It was an issue raised quite a few times in Parliament. We have to make sure things are going as planned, with agreement of residents within Kampung Baru,” Khalid said.

Then-Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor told Malay Mail in 2015 that besides the problem of multiple ownership of land titles, Kampung Baru residents were demanding to be paid up to 10 times the market worth of their land.

The Kampung Baru redevelopment project comprises four phases spanning 20 years under the Kampung Baru Detailed Development Master Plan that was launched in 2015.

When asked if PH could restore local council elections next year so that the Kuala Lumpur mayor and councillors are elected, Khalid said he will first have to study the mechanism of restoring the third vote in the capital city.

“It won’t be the most immediate thing I’ll look at,” said the minister.

“Obviously in a democratic model, you have got three levels of government ― federal, state and local. How that fits into the ‘wilayah’ kind of structure, we’ve got to study. We should increase the level of democratisation in order to make sure those paying rates and taxes get proper representation,” he added.

Last month, non-government organisations Selamatkan Kuala Lumpur, the Petaling Jaya Coalition and Penang Forum Coalition called for local council elections to be implemented next year.

They demanded that the election of mayors in Kuala Lumpur, Petaling Jaya in Selangor, and Penang be held by June 2019 and for city councillors to be elected by December next year.