Too Close For Comfort

By Fathol Zaman Bukhari

Residents of Permai Lake View, a low-cost housing complex next to the recently-completed Haven Lakeside Residences in Tambun, are at wit’s end not knowing what to do and whom to turn to in their moment of need.

Their concern is over construction activities taking place on the vacant land opposite their place of abode. The feverish work underway, apparently, is for the building of two residential tower blocks. There is neither signage nor billboard to announce the intent, and this is worrying.

Sensing the futility of their attempts at getting answers, they decided to take to ‘the streets’ by holding a peaceful demonstration in front of their dwellings on Saturday, March 7. They carried placards and banners denouncing the development taking place in their neighbourhood.

It is not out of the ordinary, as citizens of a country that observes democratic principles they have the right to show their displeasure over issues of common interest. This right is enshrined in the Peaceful Assembly Act enacted by Parliament in 2012.

The most winnable feature that this part of Tambun has for would-be settlers is its tranquillity. Set amidst rolling hills covered with tropical jungles that dated back to the Jurassic period, the ambience and vista are simply stupendous. You can literally let yourself loose in the jungles without a care for your well-being. That is the feeling one gets when one sets foot here.

This is Ipoh’s last remaining frontier which is still untouched, undeveloped and unexplored. Remove the hills and the trees, and the land becomes, not only soulless but, valueless. Therefore, the residents’ concerns are justified. Those who bought houses and apartments in the area had done so with one thought in mind – that the integrity of their property remains intact with all the trimmings.

The land, where the towers are being built, serves as a water catchment area for Permai Lake View and Haven Lakeside Residences. Residents of both housing projects fear serious consequences arising from the on-going works, as things are literally too close for comfort.

Land clearance, ground levelling, earthworks and drainage constructions have commenced at a feverish pace without notification and, regrettably, not in compliance with existing rules and regulations.

There is a growing fear that the clearing will result in flooding, and the nightmarish mud slide, due to the loss of surface tension. This has happened so frequently, the killer mud slide in Meru last year is a case in point.

The vacant land is being jointly developed by state-owned MB Incorporated and a local business entity to build a mixed cluster of housing, office, hotel and apartment blocks. The intended project will rival the neighbouring Haven Lakeside Residences, in all its grandeur.

There are a number of reasons why the development is being considered. Piggy-backing on the success of one developer is a major factor why the project is being pursued with such haste. The other is the exposure the area enjoys, again through the efforts of another.

But with the mess the project is going to create, it is a wonder why start in the first place. Has no study been done beforehand? Will it be economical in the long run and what is the ROI (Return on Investment)? Should the project go belly-up who will bear the losses? Not the state, I suppose.

There seems to be more questions than answers. It is an open season for competition. My prediction – there is more to lose than gain.

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