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MOTION BUKIT ANTARA BANGSA LANDSLIDE


KUALA LUMPUR: The Dewan Rakyat set aside an hour Wednesday to debate the Bukit Antarabangsa landslide in an emergency motion filed by Mohd Azmin Ali (PKR-Gombak) under Section 18 (1) of the Standing Orders.
Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia said he was satisfied that the emergency motion filed had fulfilled the requirements of being specific, of public interest and with urgency.
He said the debate would start at 4.30pm for half an hour and the reply by relevant ministries would take another half an hour to end at 5pm.
The emergency motion on Saturday’s Bukit Antarabangsa landslide raised more questions than answers as lawmakers could not agree on who should be held responsible for the incident.
However, it appears that the immunity of local authorities which also took centre stage in the 1993 Highland Towers tragedy, will also be a source of controversy this time around.
A day short of the 15th anniversary of the landslide that claimed 48 lives, Azmin Ali, (PKR-Gombak) who is also the assemblyman for Bukit Antarabangsa, asked to know who is responsible.
“In 2001, the Housing and Local Government ministry released guidelines on total planning. But they have not been taken into account when projects are approved.
“In my constituency, there have been nine hillside projects, approved in 2004, 2006 and 2007. Who is responsible for approving these projects when the ministry guidelines prohibited projects on slopes of more than 25 degree incline?” he said.
The PKR vice president then called for those responsible to be charged and tried in court.
In his reply, Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan said that a committee has been mobilised to investigate the landslide which has claimed at least four lives and destroyed 15 homes.
“Let the investigations conclude,” he replied.
Bagan MP Lim Guan Eng had also called for Section 95(2) of the Street Drainage and Building Act 1974 which also granted legal immunity to the local council in the Highland Towers tragedy, to be repealed as it would also see the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council getting away scot-free in this case.
The Federal Court unanimously decided on Feb 17, 2006 that the local council was protected against legal action even though they were found to be negligent and partly responsible for the collapse of the Highland Towers.
Earlier, Azmin had also pressed Ong to state whether the government had a risk map of the area after Ong had evaded numerous inquiries from the opposition.
“We only have 30 seconds left. Just tell us, does the federal government have a risk map of the area? Thirty seconds from now,” Azmin said.
Ong instead, continued to wind-up his speech.
He told reporters later that the government had in fact, ordered the Works Ministry to prepare such a study in Hulu Kelang, where Bukit Antarabangsa is located, which will be completed in 2009.
“The hazard assessment on hillside risk will identify high risk areas and we will introduce an early warning system,” he said.
During the debate, all three Barisan Nasional MPs who spoke had blamed natural causes for the landslid

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