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Taman Rimba Kiara saga: Shining the light on foundations linked to state governments

KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 30): The big story earlier this week is that of the Court of Appeal quashing a development order by the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) to develop Taman Rimba Kiara (pictured) in Taman Tun Dr Ismail (TTDI).

The Court of Appeal panel comprising three judges, led by Federal Court Judge Datuk Mary Lim Thiam Suan, unanimously decided that the development order obtained in 2017 by the joint venture (JV) of Yayasan Wilayah Persekutuan (YWP) and developer Memang Perkasa for the TRK project is null and void.

Lim set aside the High Court's decision on Nov 28, 2018, which dismissed the residents' bid to stop the proposed mixed development project in TRK.

The long struggle by the residents who wanted to maintain Taman Rimba Kiara has resulted in the media highlighting the relationship of YWP with the Ministry of Federal Territories and DBKL.

During the court case, the residents insisted that there was a conflict of interest on the part of YWP and Datuk Bandar KL in approving the development.

The Court of Appeal also opined that that there was a clear conflict of interest on the part of YWP.

The Edge Malaysia in a special report this week revealed the Court of Appeal panel of judges saying: “The fact that the application was made in the joint names of Yayasan and Memang Perkasa makes no difference to the conclusion that there is a conflict of interest between the applicant and the decision maker who granted the Development Order.

We must, however, state for the record that our conclusions here in no way mean there was personal interest on the part of the Datuk Bandar. We take the position that the commercial interests of Yayasan under the joint-venture agreement (JVA), where the Datuk Bandar is a member of the Board of Trustees of Yayasan, is sufficient to say that the test of conflict of interest has been met, hence tainting the Development Order granted by the Datuk Bandar.”

“The standoff between the Federal Territories Ministry and Kuala Lumpur City Hall on one side, and TTDI residents opposed to the building of high-end condos on part of the public park on the other, has raised questions about how YWP raises funds for its stated purpose, which is to aid the poor and underprivileged in the federal territories of Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Labuan,” wrote The Edge in its special report.

“In the case of Taman Rimba Kiara, YWP will get a share of the profit from the project that is being undertaken by Malton Bhd. Hence, TTDI residents and MP for Segambut Hannah Yeoh argue that public interest — to keep the park in its entirety — was sacrificed by KL City Hall and the FT Ministry for the benefit of YWP,” said the weekly.

“In the wider view, the conflict-of-interest question also extends to other state-run foundations that leverage on government connections for profit, potentially squeezing out legitimate entrepreneurs,” it added.

Read the full report in this week’s The Edge Malaysia

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