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Greater KL – economic miracle or legal time bomb?

THE country needs sustainable development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

Of sustainable development’s three components – economic development, environmental integrity and social wellbeing – the latter to my mind is the most important.

Before embarking on any project, stakeholders must be informed, consulted and their views considered.

Let’s look at the federal government’s proposed RM172 billion Greater Kuala Lumpur development.

It will be a metropolis covering 690,217 acres, an area four times bigger than Singapore. It will include KL and established areas in Selangor – Selayang, Ampang Jaya, Kajang, Sepang, Petaling Jaya, Subang Jaya, Klang and Shah Alam. Putrajaya is a Federal Territory.

The plan is, by 2020, Greater KL will become a leading global city and an economic hub of 10 municipalities.

Bear in mind that the eight locations in Selangor have their own self-governing local authorities (LAs). How will these LAs under the state government be transformed to become municipalities under KL?

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop said Greater KL’s success will help the country generate RM115 billion a year in income over the next 10 years. Bukit Bintang will become “an international financial district”, he added.

Also marked for major redevelopment are the Sungai Besi air base and Sungai Buloh Rubber Research land. He said “we want the suburbs to benefit from Greater KL as well”.

A large-scale model of Greater KL was displayed for public inspection during the recent Economic Transformation Programme open day at the Putra World Trade Centre. Many KL residents were there to find out what the city planners have in mind.

Some wondered whether Greater KL is a mere tagline or general politico-economic description, an early signal for an official takeover of the urban mass transportation system in and around the city, or a prelude to establishing a new governing regional authority similar to the Greater London Authority (GLA).

I do not discount the possibility of a new governing authority to be put in place.

If we are not careful, this is where a legal time bomb may appear.

The GLA was established in 2000 following a referendum. It derives its powers from two major statutes, the Greater London Authority Act of 1999 and subsequently the Greater London Authority Act of 2007. The 1999 Act established the GLA, the London Assembly and the Mayor of London. The 2007 Act gave further powers to the Authority and the Mayor.

As a strategic regional authority, GLA has wide powers over transport, policing, economic development, and fire and emergency planning. The London Development Agency, London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, Metropolitan Police Authority and London Transport Authority were set up under GLA, whose administration covers an area of 610 square miles.

Greater KL is going to cost a total of RM172 billion to be spent from 2010 to 2020 of which more than onethird will come from the public sector (government funds or taxpayers’ money) and the rest hopefully from the private sector.

Federal Territories and Urban Wellbeing Minister Datuk Raja Nong Chik Raja Zainal Abidin, whose ministry is in charge of the project, said the others “also included” in the project are the Economic Planning Unit and the Performance Management Delivery Unit (both under the Prime Minister’s Department), KL City Hall and the Land Public Transport Commission. Asked about Selangor, he said the state government is also included.

He said the ministry has not yet held any meeting on the Greater KL plan but he believes Selangor would cooperate, adding, “It is a win-win situation. So I hope politics will be put aside.”

Having ascertained the federal government’s intentions and plans for Greater KL, I surfed for reactions from Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim and found them in a blogger’s website.

Khalid questioned how the federal government could name Petaling Jaya, Subang Jaya, Ampang Jaya and Shah Alam as part of the Federal Territory or Greater KL when they are part of Selangor.

“This is both strange and absurd. The term `Klang Valley’ has been substituted with the word Greater Kuala Lumpur,” he added.

“All these areas are within the Selangor boundaries. It is an insult to the state and sovereignty. What is the federal government’s intention when it ignores using the term Selangor?” he asked.

I am waiting for the next round which I hope will be collaborative consultation, not a war of words.

Source: NSTProperty

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