Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Bar Council seeks royal panel on Bukit Antarabangsa tragedy

The Star

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Bar Council has called for the immediate setting up of a Royal Com­mission of Inquiry into the Dec 6 Bukit Antarabangsa tragedy.

The council’s task force, in its report on Bukit Antarabangsa, also strongly called for the removal of the immunity of local authorities and officers under Section 95 of the Street, Drainage and Building Act.

The council wanted appropriate action to be taken against the parties responsible for the Bukit Antarabangsa tragedy which claimed four lives and caused substantial injury and destruction to property.

It said the relevant authorities must also sanction the immediate discontinuation of all ongoing hillside development projects not meeting the minimum requirements of safety, or which have not complied with the applicable laws, regulations and guidelines.

“As a precautionary measure, all hillside development on gradients exceeding 25 degrees should be banned until proper laws are passed,” said the report.

The task force was appointed by the Bar Council in December to find solutions to prevent or minimise future landslides in or around hill­slope developments.

The six-member task force was headed by chairman Roger Tan.

The council also called for the relevant authorities to conduct an immediate safety review of all existing hillside development at the cost of the developers.

In a press release, council president Datuk S. Ambiga said it was deeply concerned with the recent announcement by Works Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Zin Mohamed that there would not be a blanket ban on hillside development.

“It is particularly alarming that this statement has been issued at a time when the many controversies surrounding hillside development still remain unresolved, without proper explanation by the authorities,” she said.

“It is also understood that the Federal Government’s Commission Investigation report into the cause of the landslide at Bukit Antarabangsa which has been completed, has yet to be made public.”

On the task force’s report, Ambiga said it identified the key likely contributory causes of landslide tragedies including the lack of competent expertise in design, construction, site supervision and maintenance and communication during the construction process.

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