Thursday, October 28, 2010

Shoddy work by contractors causing noise pollution

Cement gave way several days exposing the metal pipes after the shoddy work

Lim and Tan inspecting the remnants of tar left behind by the contractors after digging up the roads and laying metal pipes.

Source: (Story by PRIYA MENON, photo by Lim Lip Eng 28/10/2010)
SLEEP has been evading residents of Jalan 17/42 and Jalan 18/42 in Taman Kok Doh, Segambut due to the noise created by metal pipes on the street. The pipes are exposed after the cement layer over it gave way several days after the shoddy work was done by contractors.

According to Tan Yee Hwa, 56, the contractors dug up the roads looking for Telekom Malaysia cables and covered the pipes with cement but left a hole in the road. “They did not bury the pipes deep enough and left a hole where they had dug. They also left the tar they dug up by the road,” he said. The noise caused by the pipe began several days ago and is especially jarring during the night when it is quiet. Every time a car hits the metal pipes, residents brace themselves against the noise. “The children can hardly sleep from the noise. It is noisier in the night since there are no activities in the area except for vehicles moving in and out of the housing estate,” said Tan, whose coffee shop is located next to the road. In order to avoid an accident, Tan, a resident of 44 years in the area, has been covering up the gaping hole using the tar left behind.

Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng lodged a complaint with Telekom Malaysia two days ago after being informed of the issue. “I believe it is not Telekom but their contractors who have done such a bad patch-up job. I will follow up with them regarding this matter. He urged the relevant parties to carry out repair work soon to prevent unscrupulous people stealing the exposed metal pipes. “I urge the government bodies to monitor their contractors and ensure they carry out a proper job. “If the contractors fail to do so, they should be fined,” he added.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Bank Negara studying policy changes to housing loans

Source: (27/10/2010)

BANK Negara is studying possible policy changes for those taking up loans to buy a third house or more, says Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Donald Lim Siang Chai.

He said Bank Negara was looking into the matter first before making a decision.

“However, there will be no policy changes for first and second-time house buyers,” he said in his reply to Lim Lip Eng (DAP-Segambut).

At present, there are no restrictions on home owners seeking to buy their third house. In fact, they are eligible to apply for 90% of housing loan. The deputy minister said that house prices have increased steadily alongside the growth in the country’s income and economic levels. “Between 2001 and 2009, the Malaysian house price index and gross domestic product have increased by an average annual rate of 3.4% and 8.6% respectively,” he added. However, he said that house prices at several locations in large cities had shot up due to price speculation and investment activities. “If this situation is not controlled at an early stage, the house prices will go up beyond the consumer’s financial means and may affect socio-economic growth,” he added. Lim said the people would also face difficulty in buying houses, which might lead to an increase in debts. “The loan-to-value ratio will be specific in nature and its implications on the country’s economic growth will be taken into account,” he added.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Nightmare on Taman Bukit Sri Bintang streets

Photo from The Star: Confusing matter- Lim (front) looking at the old signboard (bottom) and the new one along with some others.

Story from: (By Noel Achariam of, 25/10/2010)
KUALA LUMPUR: Residents and business operators in Taman Bukit Sri Bintang, Bandar Menjalara here are unhappy that the road names in their area have been changed without prior notice. They claimed that City Hall had changed the names of more than 20 roads last Tuesday. They said the new road names are confusing those living and doing business in the area. Taman Bukit Sri Bintang Rukun Tetangga chairman Angus Ng, said that City Hall should have consulted them before changing the road names. "We are not against the change in road names but they should have informed us about it first," said Ng. He said now residents would have to update the address in their MyKad while business operators would have to change the address on name cards, letter heads and their signboards. "The business operators had said that it would be difficult for them to receive cheques from their clients as the addresses are different now. They hope that City Hall will work together with Pos Malaysia to inform them of the change."

Resident Simon Khor, 53, said the change in road names would also confuse visitors. "How can City Hall change all the road names without consulting us? Even before the change, letters were being delivered to all the wrong houses, so we don't see how the new names are going to benefit us. We hope that City Hall can meet the residents and explain why the names were changed without any consultation," he said. Khor also said that the road names should be systematic and not all over the place. "We want the road names to follow a certain criteria. There is confusion now as the road names are not in order. If City Hall wants to change the names they should at least indicate the name of the previous road under the new road signages so that people would know where to go," he said.
Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng who received the complaint from the residents last week said that he had already contacted City Hall on the issue last Thursday. "After receiving the complaint, I faxed, send a SMS and called City Hall for an explanation but there was no answer. "Then I went to the City Hall office to meet the officer in-charge of road names. He admitted that there was no consultation with the residents and that the road names were gazetted in 2006," he said. Lim said that he was told by the officer that there were three procedures before a road name is gazetted. "The first is getting feedback from residents, the second is submitting the new names to a special committee for approval and the third is to submit the names to the Federal Territories and Urban Wellbeing Ministry for approval and gazettement. "All this was done four years ago, and when I asked the officer why did it take so long to put up the road names, the officers said that it took four years to make the road signages," he said. Lim said that the officer also informed him that City Hall will be calling for a meeting with the residents to discuss the issue. "We will have to wait and see what transpires in the meeting," he said.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

'Trafficked men' toil at new palace

Source: (By Hazlan Zakaria, 19/10/2010)
In yet another twist to the new national palace construction saga, a group of workers emerged from the woodwork of the controversy-ridden project, claiming to be victims of human trafficking. The grouses of these masonry specialists from China is that they have not been paid their wages the last two months, after being taken to work on the project by their original employer, who then upped and disappeared. "We have no money to eat. We now survive by borrowing from local workers at the site," group spokesperson Zhang Baowen told a press conference in Sri Hartamas, Kuala Lumpur, today. Eight of them showed up at the press conference, out of their original group of 12. "Four from our group ran away because they could not bear the situation any longer," Zhang said. He said the masons were enticed from China to work in construction projects in Libya, at wages of between RM3,200 and RM3,700 a month, a lot more than the RM1,800 to RM2,300 a month they earned in China. They were required to pay the agent who recruited them RM7,000 each. Their passports had stamps in Arabic, purportedly entry visas for Libya.
Tricked to come to Malaysia
However, at the last minute, they were rerouted to Malaysia with the promise of work and higher wages amounting to RM65,000 if they worked for two years. But once in Malaysia, Zhang said, they were only paid RM2,300 a month, similar to what they made in their homeland. Originally, 30 of them were recruited in Guangdong province by a Malaysian company, Guan Ming Construction Sdn Bhd, and told to make their own way to Macao. The workers also showed a copy of the contract that they signed with Guan Ming Construction. From there, they were flown to Malaysia, where they were issued with legal immigration i-Cards in the name of another company, NF Renovation and Ironworks Sdn Bhd. Whether the work permits are legal were questioned by a Chinese Embassy official, who was also present and had met with the complaining workers. This was because, he said, the workers had left China on tourist exit visas. The official made this observation after scrutinising their passports and said that under China's immigration law, Chinese nationals cannot work abroad unless they have specific authorisation and leave under the appropriate visas. After their arrival in Malaysia on July 31, the workers started working for a construction company, owned by a Chinese national, in Old Klang Road before being told in early October that their permits had expired. They were then coerced into paying their employer in order to renew their permits. "We had to sign another contract with our employer, saying that we owe him RM 14,000 in order to be able to extend our work permits," Zhang said. He explained that 12 of them were sent to the new palace construction site on Oct 7 and they have been working there ever since, with their salaries since August still unpaid. The Chinese Embassy official, who recorded the details of the workers, said he would look into their problem.
'Police harassed complainants'
Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng, who arranged the press conference for the disgruntled workers, said he was told of the matter by an informant. "I want to ask the government how these workers could have been legalised. How can this happen at a high security worksite such as the new palace project?" asked Lim. He also said he made sure that Chinese Embassy officials were present today to protect the workers, since foreign workers cheated of their wages in earlier cases he had exposed to the media "have all disappeared". Lim also said reporters who accompanied him to interview Indonesian workers in a similar incident earlier were recently questioned by police. This, he said, was yet another case of police harassing those who complained, instead of investigating the project contractors responsible.
The controversial new palace project at Jalan Duta has been called into question for its ballooning cost as well as allegations that illegal workers are employed in its construction, many of whom claimed they were not paid for work done and alleged other abuses as well. Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim has also questioned the awarding of the contract, purportedly, an unqualified crony company.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

MPs: Mega-tower won't improve quality of life

Source: (By Hazlan Zakaria, 19/10/2010)
Five DAP MPs from the Fedral Territories are strongly opposed to the government proposal to build a RM5 billion 100-storey commercial building in the heart of the city. They said that the building will not improve Kuala Lumpur's international standing but will exacerbate the traffic congestion in the area. Instead, the government should use the funds to improve the quality of life for the city folk, they stressed. The five MPs are Tan Kok Wai (Cheras), Fong Kui Loon (Bukit Bintang), Teresa Kok (Seputeh), Dr Tan Seng Giaw (Kepong) and Lim Lip Eng (Segambut).

This was raised during a site visit at the nearest point between Stadium Merdeka and Stadium Negara. The building, proposed in Budget 2011, is expected to be build adjacent to the two stadiums. Fong pointed to the narrow streets and five schools concentrated in the area that he said already presents a traffic problem. This may be made worse by the 100-storey tower and the glut of traffic that will surely follow, he said.
Lim Lip Eng argued that the project has not yet been approved, given the lack of signboards from the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) to announce the project, as per city regulations. “The DBKL must put up a signboard and announce the project, and then there is an objection period of one month for the people to make their comments,” said the DAP elected representative. He said that this is necessary to give the people a chance to say whether they support or object to the project and why. “We of the opposition have made our views known, but the government can say that we are politicising the matter. Now we want to use people power,” opined Lim.
Do we need another skyscraper?
Kok Wai questioned the need for such skyscrapers. “No great cities were built by skyscrapers alone. It is better if we (possess) the criteria that make a good city, like good security and good public transport,” he said. Agreeing with him, Seng Giaw said that the RM5 billion expenditure targeted for the tower may be better spent upgrading city transport and public services. “Granted some people may benefit from the tower, the people who will have offices there for example, but their number is limited. “In contrast, spending the money to upgrade transportation and services will benefit more people,” he said. Kok said that the mega project is just another questionable project that the BN government continues to push through without due consideration, giving as another example the spate of projects in her Seputeh constituency that the DBKL has ramrodded through. These objections by DAP parliamentarians joined a chorus of opposition to the mega-project that was one of the many sore points of Najib's new budget. Many are criticising the tower as another wasteful 'white elephant' project that signalled a return to Mahathir-style projects of grandeur, at a time when the country was saddled with a nosedive in foreign direct investment and rising debt.

Monday, October 18, 2010

New palace cost: RM935 mil and counting

Source: 18/10/10

The federal government has approved an additional RM147 million for the construction of the new national palace at Jalan Duta, Kuala Lumpur. In total, the new palace will cost RM935 million, which includes the construction or upgrading of roads leading to the palace, but excludes operational and administration costs.
In a written reply to Lim Lip Eng (DAP-Segambut), the Works Ministry said the 100,000 sq metre palace complex itself will cost RM650 million. "However, this cost does not include several of the project's components which need to be be considered to complete the entire palace project. "In view of this, the government has agreed to approve an additional RM147 million allocation," said the reply.
Details about the "project's components" were not stated in the written reply. According to the works ministry, the cost of the construction of a multi-level traffic junction from Jalan Duta to the palace has dropped from RM130 million to RM106 million.
No details on operational cost
Upgrading works on Jalan Changkat Semantan, which leads to the second entrance of the palace, is maintained at a cost of RM32.5 million. The works ministry said that operations and administration costs would only be determined after the entire project is completed on June 30 next year. The government's handling of the new palace had been courting controversy in recent months, with allegations of construction workers abuse, embezzlement and cost-overruns. Previously, Deputy Works Minister Yong Khoon Seng said that total cost of the new palace stood at RM811 million, which is double the estimated RM400 million in 2006. In June, Works Minister Shaziman Abu Mansor denied an opposition lawmaker's accusation that an additional RM150 million had been disbursed for the palace to meet cost-overruns.
Meanwhile, opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has accused the government of awarding the contract for the main palace contract to an unqualified Umno crony company.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Residents say demolition notice unlawful

Source: (By JAYAGANDI JAYARAJ, 8/10/2010)
THE remaining 38 former workers at Batu Estate in Segambut, Kuala Lumpur are determined to stay put in their homes despite a demolition notice issued by the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) on Tuesday. The notice expires on Oct 12 and demolition work will be carried out anytime after that.

Vijaya Veeran, 33, said the residents would not move out as the matter was not handled fairly, and evicting the residents was not right. “We received notice from the enforcement department asking us to move out but we are not squatters. “All we are asking is for low-cost terrace houses to be built here or at a nearby piece of land,” he said at a press conference at the site yesterday.

Also present was Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng. Lim questioned the validity of the demolition notice as it involved private land and DBKL could not order people to move out. “This is not state land so DBKL cannot issue such notices. What’s rightful is for the landowner to get a court order to evict the residents. “The matter is pending in court and nothing has been resolved as yet, so what’s the hurry in trying to get these residents off the land?” said Lim, who urged the residents to lodge a report with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission against DBKL for sending out such notices. He added that he would be meeting with Deputy Federal Territories and Urban Wellbeing Minister Datuk M. Saravanan on Monday to request that he meet with the residents.

When contacted, DBKL stated that the developer had sought its help to issue the notice and that the cost of demolition would be borne by the company.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

No need to change FT anthem, say MPs

Source: (2/10/2010)

FOUR DAP MPs from Kuala Lumpur said there was no necessity to change the Federal Territories anthem Maju dan Sejahtera (Progressive and Prosperity).

The MPs also said students should have been consulted since they sang the anthem almost every week.

Lim Lip Eng (Segambut), Fong Kui Lun (Bukit Bintang), Tan Kok Wai (Cheras) and Dr Tan Seng Giaw, who held a joint press conference yesterday, said anthems were not a fashion statement that could be changed according to time.

The MPs said there were more important issues under the FT Ministry that needs to be looked into such as the Plaza Rakyat, the Greater KL projects as well as the public transportation.

They said the existing anthem could have been modified to a faster tempo instead of introducing a new anthem.