By A. Jeyaraj
A notice-board erected by the Prime Minister’s Department on an open piece of land along Jalan Manjoi in Merdeka Garden is causing some concern to the residents. The signboard which lists the project as “RPT Setinggan Taman Merdeka” means it is slated for resettlement of squatters and under the law, this should only occur in outlying areas, not within city limits and definitely not in a parcel of land reserved as an open space.
They fear that they would be deprived of their recreation ground, which has been regularly maintained by Ipoh City Council for years. According to the notice-board, the project is for the upgrading of drains and road, but there were no drains and road at the site. Recently, new drains and a road have been constructed across it.
Suspecting that some buildings would be constructed on the site, the residents sought the help of the Perak Consumers’ Association (PCA) to get details of the development. PCA wrote to the Mayor, Menteri Besar, Prime Minister and Kinta Land Office seeking for details and also to stop the project, stressing that the open space in Taman Merdeka has been part of the housing estate since it was developed over 30 years ago.
In their attempts to get details of the project, the PCA and representatives of the residents were made to “run around.” This reporter visited the Engineering Department of the Ipoh City Council with Mr Paul Raj from PCA and was told that the City Council is not involved. So we went to the Prime Minister’s Department in Ipoh and were told that the department was only doing financial administration and that the Land Office in Batu Gajah was the place to get details. At the Land Office we were told to see Encik Mohd Hariri bin Ahmad, Assistant District Officer in Ipoh.
We met Encik Hariri. He told us that he had not received the letter from PCA upon which a copy of the letter was personally handed to him on December 5 of last year. Since then there has been no reply from him.
A search at the Land Office shows that the land belongs to three individuals; which begs the question of why the Prime Minister’s Department is developing private properties and without the knowledge of the local council? Does this mean that other open spaces designated for parks like Taman DR Seenivasagam can also be developed?
If this is the case, soon more vacant land in housing estates in the city will be gone, including those gazetted as playing fields.