DAP-controlled KL Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall orchestrate anti-MRT movement to block government plan to ease traffic congestion
Frustrated MRT chief questions sincerity of lot owners
MRT Corp chief Azhar Abdul Hamid is perplexed with his Jalan Sultan critics, whom he claims refuses to listen to him.
KUALA LUMPUR: An explanation-weary MRT (My Rapid Transit) Corp has had enough with its harshest critics – the Jalan Sultan building owners – over the MRT saga.
Questioning the sincerity of the owners in seeking a solution, a visibly upset MRT Corp chief executive officer Azhar Abdul Hamid said: “We’ve had no less than 10 engagements with them (all lot-owners), and we’ve explained this (issue) over and over again….”
“We have gone out of the way to explain to them (about the project), in front of the Prime Minister [Najib Tun Razak] and Nazri (Aziz), and they (the critics) say ‘Okay, okay, okay.’ But when they come out they say something else.”
“If they’re really sincere, why didn’t they say anything in front of Nazri [during the meeting], so we can solve the issue?”Azhar asked.
He said the project’s harshest critics included the Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH) secretary-general Stanley Yong and Bukit Bintang MP (DAP) Fong Kui Lun who along with the lot owners had attended a Apr 26 meeting mediated by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Abdul Aziz.
Azhar told reporters here today that both parties had given their views at the time of the meeting, only to make loud demands in public later.
Azhar was referring to the demands made by both Yong and the DAP against the MRT’s plans for its upcoming Jalan Sultan MRT station.
More than 800 people gathered last Sunday, demanding that MRT Corp stop its demolition of three government-owned buildings along Jalan Sultan.
They also attacked MRT Corp’s plans for underground tunnels in the area, which would affect 24 lots there.
MRT Corp’s critics said that the demolition would have put businesses and the foundations of colonial-era buildings there at risk.
They also gave the impression that Jalan Sultan’s (popularly known as Chinatown) businesses were against tunneling there, and called for the track alignment to be shifted along Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock.
In August last year, private lot-owners in Bukit Bintang and Jalan Sultan were told that their land were to be acquired for the building of underground MRT tunnels.
Later the government promised that none of the private buildings would be demolished or acquired.
MRT Corp later suggested a “mutual agreement”, which it said could halt the (compulsory) land acquisition process.
According to MRT Corp, the three lots did not comprise the majority of the anti-MRT group. According to the company, a total 16 of the 24 affected lots there had signed a pre-agreement (known as the Points-of-Agreement) with MRT Corp.
Three more had yet to sign as they were overseas, while two more chose acquisition.
MRT Corp said that only three lots were against the current alignment. These, he said, were represented by the critics attacking the project.
‘I can’t help them’
In fact, Azhar added that six out of the 21 lots had no intention in gazetting their buildings as heritage sites; a contention raised by MRT Corp’s critics.
Asked why the 16 had taken so long to sign a pre-agreement with MRT Corp, Azhar said that the lot-owners may have been unsure about accepting a deal with the company.
“I would want the [pre-agreement] to be signed by yesterday. The faster we can sign the POA…the faster I can go to the government and stop the compulsory acquisition process,” he said.
Azhar said however that there was nothing he could do for the three anti-MRT landowners who refused to sign the “mutual agreement”.
“I suppose if they don’t sign [it], then I can’t help them anymore…If you don’t want to sign, then there’s nothing I can do,” he said.
It is believed that the government would acquire the land of these three proprietors if this happened.
During the press conference today, about 10 DAP members anti-MRT protesters rallied outside the cafe.
Azhar then walked up to them, and personally asked if they had any queries for him, to no avail.