Green Party decries Selangor’s 2016 decision not to have a public hearing, enabling development on a wetland in Kuala Langat

Lot 68054 in the district of Tanjung Dua Belas, Kuala Langat, near the gazetted Paya Indah Wetlands.

PETALING JAYA, May 15 – The Green Party today decried a 2016 decision by the Selangor state government not to hold a public hearing despite protests from several non-governmental organisations, individuals as well as the local Orang Asli community to prevent the conversion of a wetland in Kuala Langat with the status of agriculture land into a mixed development status.

In a statement issued today, Green Party pro-tem secretary general Abdul Razak Ismail, said the latest marketing information by Gamuda Cove showed several phases of residential property development on the disputed Lot 68054 in the district of Tanjung Dua Belas, Kuala Langat, which was indeed wetland.

While it was denied in the past that the land in question was wetland, evidence now clearly show that they are wetlands, alleged Razak.

Razak further claimed that the Selangor Department of Environment had not approved any Environment Impact Assessment report related to the land.

This “huge mistake” by the then Selangor government could have been avoided if the request for a public hearing made by the NGOs and individuals who wanted to present their grounds on why the status of the wetlands should not be converted had been met.

Everything was decided internally and the public was never part of the decision, Razak said, reiterating his stand that the Select Committee for Competency, Accountability and Transparency (Selcat) of Selangor has become a sham.

In October 2016, the Selcat, headed by the then Chairman, Hannah Yeoh, had said that the disputed area was not within the gazetted Paya Indah Wetland, and this had been based on the explanation and briefing given by the Selangor State Secretariat and related agencies including the Selangor Land and Mining Department, the state’s urban and rural council planning agency and the Langat District Office (land) and Langat’s town council.

She had said that although the land belonged to Selangor, the Barisan Nasional administration in 1994 had converted the land to individual ownership status.

In 1996, BN gave approval for the further conversion of the status of the land for residential development and light industries.

In 2004, this decision, however did not go through as the owner did not pay the premium land tax.

Ten years later, property developer Salak Land Development Sdn Bhd had once again applied to change the land’s status but it was not successul.

The individual owner of the land had also applied to change the Kuala Langat Local Development 2020 plan for the land and the related agency had confirmed that the change was made according to due process.

In 2015, the Selangor State Executive Council headed by then Menteri Besar Azmin Ali approved the land’s status for property development.

The conversion in status had been done in line with the processes involved, Hannah Yeoh had said in 2016.

Razak said there should have been a public hearing and the wetlands should not have been converted to allow property development. Today, houses are standing in a wetland, he said.

He said, one of the reasons cited by an environmentalist to not disturb wetland is the pollution of the water systems of the wetlands.

— WE