Monday, October 10, 2011

Press Statement on Kek Lok Si Carpark by Prof Jimmy Lim

Devastation of the natural environment in the name of providing a Car park for Kek Lok Si.
Sunday, 9 October, 2011


A. Illegal Acts

1. Done illegal construction that had intruded into public domain. All constructions are required to be set back from the legal boundaries of the property by between 2.0 – 6.0 metres.
To build beyond the setbacksis illegal and plans would not be approved. Going beyond the legal boundary is a double breach of the law and illegal.If there is an Architect and Professional Engineer this could not have happened.

2. No permit given.

All development and construction on site can only commence after plans have been submitted and approval given by the Local Authority.
Any work done prior to permit being given is illegal.

3. No application for building submitted.

If no plan application is made to the Authority for any development, work done on that site, especially if it is large scale, is extremely serious as public safety is involved and is illegal. How did this happen if they had employed the services of an Architect and Professional Engineer?

4. Destroyed a natural river .

This is a blatant disregard for public property and the environment and water ways.
Catchment areas are protected for collecting surface water run-off. Likewise rivers are protected for the purpose of allowing a natural course of water to flow.Causing it to be changed without consultation is illegal. Damaging it is another illegal act.

5. Illegal excavation and commencement of Earthworks.

Unless earthwork’s permit is given no excavation and earth moving can commence as public safety and properties are involved.

6. Destroyed ancient rocks.

Heritage is not limited to only Georgetown which is an inscribed World Heritage site.
These rocks and flora are an integral part of the Natural heritage. Had all Georgetown’s buildings destroyed there would be no world heritage site today. It is short sighted to destroy these rocks illegally.

7. Destroy an ancient Datuk Kong for the Seven Sisters.

Lack of respect for the local customary religious practice is socially irresponsible. It is an integral part of the rituals of the people living in that location. This is destroying local heritage.

8. Destroyed an edifice donated by the Aw Brothers of Tiger Balm fame.

Philanthropic icons are important milestones in the culture of any society. Eradicating or obliterating such charitable mementos deprives the future generations to appreciate the good deeds of their forebears.

9. Reduced the flow of the water. Narrowed the channel.

This site and river, being part of the natural easement for slowing the flow of water from up-stream and the Ayer Itam dam will cause backing up of water that may lead to flooding in the general location of the development. Flashing flooding due to excessive rainfall is not uncommon. Public risk is involved.

10. Introduce concrete culvert and retaining walls.

This is not ‘green’ in today’s world of sustainability. Retaining walls have been known to fail, eg the Gua Tempurong earth failure. Public risk is involved.


B. Consultants’ breach of professional conduct.

1. Consultant Engineer and architect are collaborators in this construction.

For a large project involving public safety there must be professional consultants.
These consultants employed would have to advised the client of how and what to do.
In this case it would appear that they are collaborators otherwise they would have alerted MPPP of this illegal commencement of works.It would mean that the engineers and architects may have breached the Professional Code of the respective Lembaga.

2. Breached the Professionalism.

All professionals registered with the professional Boards are responsible to act in the manner of public concern and safety.With Professional consultants on this project and this happened means that they are not controlling the project or running it.They may have breached the Professional Code governing their profession.

3. Matter should be raised to the Lembaga.

It should be determined if there were consultants commissioned to do this project. If there were, they should be referred to their respective Boards to look into how the environment was destroyed.

4. In the event of a failure who will be held responsible.

Since no plans were submitted and approved it may be impossible to hold the consultants responsible as they did not submitted any plans.In this case the Government will have to hold the temple responsible.

5. Irresponsibility of the consultants must be highlighted to prevent others from doing similar or encouraging such acts.

Consultants of projects where such activities go on are compelled by law to report the matter to the relevant Authority. They did not. Their inaction need to be exemplified to put all consultants on notice on all future developments.

6. Where are plans for excavation?

It appears the engineers did not submit plans for earthworks. For such extensive earthworks project, some plans for action on site would have been produced.It is important for the MPPP to sight these plans before entertaining any request for consideration. This is needed to ascertain the extent of the damage and the intended proposed damage. Sighting the plans should be mandatory prelude by MPPP.

7. Structural plans not sighted.

It appears the engineers did not submit any structural, footing and foundation stabilisation plans for record with MPPP. For such extensive car parking and earthworks on a slope, some plans for work to start on site would have been prepared.It is important for the MPPP to sight these plans before entertaining any request for consideration. This is needed to ascertain the extent of the structure and the intended proposed structures. Sighting the plans should be mandatory prelude by MPPP.

8. Architect’s plans and sections to show cut and fill of the site.

This is a complex site in any body’s language.Was a site analyse done to study the terrain for cutting, filling, moving of boulders, diverting of the stream, a comparative cross-sectional study of water volume between the existing stream the new Altered stream? If it was prepared we would like to see them. It is important for the MPPP to sight these plans before entertaining any request for consideration. This is needed to ascertain the extent of environmental damage and losses. Sighting these plans should be mandatory prelude by MPPP. Should MPPP do not have the time, man-power or inclination to study them the NGOs will be more than happy to assist on MPPP’s behalf.

9. How were the works carried out? Under what specification?

Designs for the building, earthworks, footings, foundation treatments etc.,would have been prepared by the consultants, as well as BQs and specifications. These documents should be sighted by MPPP as a prelude.

10. Professional consultants are in cohort with developer to the detriment of the public.

Professionalism has been side-lined in this case and the party/ties responsible to be dealt with appropriately. The Consultants have breach public trust. MPPP can and have the right to reject all future submissions by these consultants.


C. Action and Restitution to the People of Penang.

1. Stop work immediately.

Order all equipment off the site.This is to avoid further damage.It is learnt that they are still doing work on site usually after hours when the MPPP officials have gone home. Stern action has to be taken. Setting bad example. Laws should be abided. YB Chow’s instruction means nothing to them.

2. Cannot accept the Submission of Plan application at this stage, in view of the extensive damage to the environment.

MPPP should not accept or approve any more applications to build at KLS. The price paid by the people of Penang the beneficiaries is too high. They have lost too much.

3. An Environmental Audit has to be conducted.

To be done not only for this site but for all the natural assets of Penang. Just as all business corporations have to prepare an audited account annually the same should apply to the government. on the environment and developments A joint effort on the part of the State Government and MPPP is required to protect Penang’s natural resources for the future generations.


4. An Environmental Impact report should be conducted by an independent Consultant to ascertain the extent of damage.

An Environmental Impact report not only for this site but for all the natural assets of Penang.
A joint effort on the part of the State Government and MPPP is required to protect Penang’s natural resources for the future generations.

5. JPS (River Authority) has to prepare a Report of how to rehabilitate the river and its down-steam effect.

It appears neither the MPPP nor the consultant referred this matter to JBS for such extensive encroachment on to rivers and its reserves. JBS ought to have been consulted.Illegal intrusion into river and natural watercourse must be viewed with concerns.It is important for the JBS to sight studies for the damaged river. This is needed to ascertain the extent of the damage and the intended proposed damage. Sighting the study should be mandatory by JBS.

6. The damage is done. Cannot make good what has been destroyed?

How can KLS carry out restitution to the People of Penang? Not in words but in deeds.
The State Government and MPPP to commence such actions.

7. Such irresponsibility towards the environment cannot be allowed to get off lightly.

There must be a check and balance in Life. In this case the Temple Authorities has taken away and destroyed what God has given Man. For what they have taken away they should replace one for the enjoyment of the people as it was intended by God. Any restitution for the damage should be equivalent to all tangible and non-tangible assets destroyed wilfully.

8. Precedent set before for destruction of heritage and historic elements.

Eastern Hotel KL illegally demolished the developer was asked to contribute RM 2 million towards protecting Conservation and Preservation Movement then in its infancy. If this amount for Eastern Hotel is to be used to quantify the recompense, then in today’s monetary terms it should be about RM20milion.KLS should not be allowed further developments. It is a religious institute and must not become and environmental monster that affects the quality of the community it is in.

9. Likewise the KekLok Si Temple should now be asked to provide funds

Today’s equivalent to RM2 in 1990, for the acquisition of a naturally beautiful river of similar features with rocks and trees, to be made into a public space for the people of Penang to enjoy. The money will be used to acquire another natural environment with natural river, streams, rocks and flora that is commensurate to that destroyed by KLS. This will be a public space to be enjoyed by all people of Penang.It will never be able to replace what was destroyed by KLS.

D. Planning a Carpark.

1. Is it a proper planning solution to the traffic problems going to and coming from KLS? Or will this exaggerate the traffic problem with an additional 1000 car parking it will attract more people to drive. This carpark will not solve the traffic problems of Ayer Itam.
Traffic problem of Penang has to be undertaken by the MPPP and Government.

2. Should the carparking station be allowed to be constructed in that location? The location for a carpark is wrong and MPPP should set the planning guidelines for this.

3. Planning of utilitarian projects should be the responsibility of the Authorities and not in the hands of monks. Carparking and traffic problems are to be solved by the Government. Private enterprise cannot solve public problems.
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