Thursday, December 11, 2008

Hillslopes Development and Bukit Antarabangsa Tragedy/ 土崩不能总归咎天意

The MCA Government Policy Monitoring Bureau would like to express our deepest condolences to the victims of Bukit Antarabangsa landslide tragedy. It is our hope that landslides tragedy will NOT occur again in our country.

In the last 15 years, there were 13 major landslides in Hulu Kelang area, of which 5 were in Bukit Antarabangsa area.

There should be more political will by both the Federal and State Government to ensure that there is no landslide in highland developments.

There are clear guidelines of highlands development by the Ministry of Environment. These guidelines are not only set out clearly according to the gradient of hillslopes, it also laid out steps to be taken to ensure safety on hillslopes development. They should be strictly adhered to, regulated, monitored and enforced.

Highland developments are classified into:

a) Class I - Gradient Less than 15 degrees

b) Class II - Gradient more than 15 to less than 25 degrees

c) Class I & Class II - For Development with Conditions

d) Class III - Gradient more than 25 to less than 35 degrees-little development allowed

e) Class IV - Gradient more than 35 degrees-No development allowed

There are even details about the qualifications and experience of consultants involved in the projects. However, it looks good on paper only.

When such tragedy occurs, many questions remain unanswered, especially who is to be held liable:

1. The approving authority is the local authority and often it lacks the technical know how and have to be dependent on other bodies. We are given to understand that the Ampang council does not even have a senior engineer to supervise Highland development.

2. There should be close supervising during the project implementation. If there are EIA requirements, who is to ensure that mitigating measures are followed and enforced? Supervision we are told is lacking.

3. Who is the Monitoring Authority? Often coordinated approaches involving many technical departments are required. It cannot be left to the local authority, which is lack of the expertise. If these consultants both private and government are involved, then they should be held accountable. It is they who are the experts, who certified the projects safe.

4. When the projects are completed, who is responsible for monitoring the projects and for how long it should be monitored? Leaving it to the developer to do the job of maintenance without being monitored is NOT the best method to ensure compliance.

5. Often if developments are by different contractors and developers – there is no coordination among them of who undertakes the coordination. There are accusations that some landowners / developers cut down their lands if the gradient is too steep to less steep (<35)degrees.

Every landslide and tragedy provides an opportunity to the authority to investigate the actual cause of the landslides – what went wrong and who is responsible. Often nobody seems to be accountable. The usual finger pointing and blame game starts.

a) Was it a design fault?

b) Did the construction go according to plan?

c) It is a maintenance problem that causes the landslides?

The victims and rakyat have the right to know who is responsible or accountable when tragedy strikes.

It cannot be an “Act of God” always. We are given to understand that while some consultants have paid the price of being negligent, no private developers have ever been brought to court for failing to comply with conditions laid down by the local authority.

The State Government and Federal Government must show that they are committed to ensure safety on hillslopes development. We may have to learn from Hong Kong how they overcome their problems on hillslopes development, otherwise landslides will continue and more tragedies will occur.

Buyers should NOT be faulted for buying houses on the hillslopes. We take it that the buildings are safe after the authority have approved it and certified it fit for occupation. However buyers have to be more careful in purchasing hillslopes houses. It can be time bomb.

Meanwhile the authority may want to review all hillslopes development that have been approved but not implemented. As for ongoing projects, it should be strictly monitored and regulated.

The Penang state government has shown a good example by ticking off one of the hillslopes developer in its state.

Until then we can only pray that landslides will not occur anymore.

我仅代表马华政府政策监督局向国际山庄土崩的灾民传达我们深切的慰问。我们诚心祈望我国不会再发生土崩惨剧。

翻看资料,淡江在过去15年里共发生了13宗土崩事件,其中5宗位于国际山庄地区。

在这起事件上,联邦政府和州政府都必须严正看待,双方也需体现更大的政治意愿,来确保高原的发展不会导致土崩事件。

事实上,环境部已订有明确和详细的高原发展指南,有关指南不仅根据不同斜度的山坡设定发展准则,也阐明确保山坡发展安全所应采取的措施,所有高原发展计划的相关单位应该严格遵守,监督和执行。

根据这项指南,高原发展分为:
1.第1级 - 山坡斜度少于15度
2.第2级 - 斜度超过15度但少于25度
注:第1和2级的高原地带可进行发展但具附带条规
3.第3级 - 斜度超过25度但少于35度。
注:被允许的发展非常有限
4.第4级 - 斜度超过35度
注:禁止发展

此外,高原发展指南也阐明参与发展计划的咨询顾问机构,所应具备的资格和经验。 不过,看起来只是纸上谈兵。

当悲剧发生后,我们有会一箩箩的问题,惟都没有得到答案,尤其是没人告诉我们谁应该负责。

以下几点值得进一步探讨:

1.地方政府是批准发展计划的单位,但却严缺技术专才而必须依赖其他机构。据解,在安邦再也县议会并没有高级工程师负责监督高原发展。

2.有关当局必须严谨监督发展计划的进行过程。如果该计划需要环境评估报告,谁来确保他们遵守报告提出的步骤?由谁执行?我们了解这方面的确缺乏监督工作。

3.谁是整个计划的监督单位?一般上,监督的协调工作牵涉许多技术单位,不能只由缺乏技术专才的地方政府来独当。不管是来自政府或私人界,所有参与发展计划的咨询顾问都要被问责,一项计划是否安全可行,是由他们鉴定和证明,他们才是这方面的专家。

4.发展计划完工后,又由谁执行持续监督工作?监督多久?放手让发展商进行维修工作而没有监督整个过程肯定不是最好的做法。

5.如果不同的发展商和承包商参与一项计划,往往没有人会协调这些工作。更有些消息指,一些发展上把斜度超出既定指标的山地,夷平至35度以下,使该地段的发展获得批准。

每一场土崩事件都给有关当局机会深入调查土崩的真正肇因,包括查出问题的症结,以及谁该负责?可是,通常都没有一个单位会负起责任,只有不停地互相指责。

那到底哪里出问题?
· 是设计和策划失误?
· 建筑工程有没有按照计划进行?
· 是维修问题导致土崩吗?

所有灾民和人民都有权了解和知道,谁应该惟这起灾难负责任。我们总不能每次归咎于天灾。据了解,有不少咨询顾问因为疏忽被对付,但却不曾听闻违反地方政府条例的发展商被提控上庭。

联邦和中央政府都要证明给人民知道,政府决意确保山坡发展计划的安全。我们可以向香港取经,学习该国如何管理高地发展计划,如何应对问题。否则,土崩山崩等悲剧将持续重演。

土崩不能怪罪予山坡屋业的购屋者。购屋者购买山坡地区房屋,是因为有关当局已鉴定安全入住。不过,购屋者日后必须加倍小心选购山坡的屋业,因为它形同一个计时炸弹。

与此同时,有关当局或需重新检视所有已批准但还未进行的山坡发展计划。而已进行当中的计划,必须确保它遵从一切条例,严格监督。

不久前,槟城州政府宣布停止一切山坡发展计划,为大家竖立了好榜样。

目前,我们只能祈求不会再发生类似的惨剧。




11 comments:

GOHHOEHOE said...

YB Dato Dr. Chua Soi Lek

Very much impressed by the following statements
"The Penang state government has shown a good example by ticking off one of the hillslopes developer in its state"

Eventhough I am more inclined towards MCA and Barisan Nasional. But I still think we have to be objective learn from our competitor.By doing so we have more to gain and none to lose.

Japanese has a very popular proverb

It does not matter if a person is slow and stupid if he is willing to learn.
It will be hopeless if a person is sttuborn and not willing to learn and change

GOHHOEHOE said...

YB Dato Dr. Chua Soi Lek
It cannot be an “Act of God” always
1) The God will only help and save those who help and save themselves according to President Franklin of USA.
2) Natural phenomenon such as earthquake, tsunami, typhoon and heavy rains are not within our control but with the advance of technology we can minimize the negative effect due to these phenomenon, if we are knowledgeable enough and we know how to use advanced technique, for examples, carter or even fish behave very strangely prior to earthquake, tsunami or landslide, as evidenced by the case of the landslide near Gunong Rapat near Ipoh 35 years ago.
In Japan sound detection systems are used to monitor underground water flow pattern in order predict landslide.

Please watch by clicking http://www.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/chinese/top/video080919.html

3) We are more luckier than countries Hong Kong ,Taiwan , and Japan.

Because these countries and regions experience TYPHOO in addition to Heavy Rainfall. These countries are more capable than us in handling landslide.
It is good for us learn from them ,the look east policy should also cover the
expect of handling landslide

Mercedes said...

Dear Dr. Chua,

When we buy any medicine, those that are available on the shelf, the one thing that we care to read is the Ministry's approval.

The descriptions of the medicine are there just to make sure we don't, for instance, buy laxative for headache.

We as consumer are not asked to test the ingredients of the medicine, nor be responsible if the ingredients contain toxin, for example. That's the Ministry's job.

So, by that analogy, the Government is SOLELY responsible for the Bukit Antarabangsa Tragedy.

Who or which department in the Government should take what responsibility, I don't know. But our King OTK has given us very timely suggestion, that his good friend must know best because during those material and critical time his good friend was in charge of the Housing Ministry.

Why so many hillslope projects during that time?

"Obsession", quote the KING.

南洋閩學網誌 said...

YB Dato Dr. Chua Soi Lek
1)God will only help who help themselves
2)Catastrophic due to natural disaster might be greatly reduced
if we have the know how and we are cautious enough.For example through the observation of the strange behaviour of cattle or even fish we may be able to predict the immediate arrival of earthquake , tsunami , collapse of the hill. Example in 1974 a day before an habitted cave in Gunung Rapat near Ipoh collapsed, the cow that resided inside the cave behaved very strangely.
With the advent of advance technology , we may even predict the arrival of disaster better if we have the know how,In japan sound detection system incorporating the CRO is used to monitor underground water flow pattern in order to predict landslide during the rainy season coupled by TYPHOO
Please watch the following video click
http://www.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/chinese/top/video080919.html

3) It is good for us to look east as regard to prevention of landslide. Japan and Hong Kong experience TYPHOO in addition to heavy rain, but the cases of landslide there are less serious.

khtan928 said...

aeconDr.Chua,
I am glad to see you see the points before others can see and you do before others do not know how to do or others are not willing to do.
Marginalization on your part within the party may not be the totally bad.
At the last analysis,as what I can see,it is 'blessing in diaguise'.

khtan928 said...

Dr.Chua,
I am glad to see you see the points before others can see and you do before others do not know how to do or others are not willing to do.
Marginalization on your part within the party may not be the totally bad.
At the last analysis,as what I can see,it is 'blessing in diaguise'.

Darick said...

DrChua,
pls tell off OKC not to issue stupid statement. he had gone to Bkt Antarabangsa for just 30min survey & he told d whole world that it's not human error ! he thought he's a GOD kah?

yakuzanam said...

deep condolence to victims of bukit antarabangsa tragedy.

dear dr. chua, thanks for the thorough, neutral and fair analysis. whenever there's a tragedy involving buildings, there'll be surely never-ending heated finger pointingS. everyone starts to play 'tai-chi' to reduce their own level of liability.

personally, i feel that tragedy or failure in buildings involve MANY parties and factors, listed some as follows :

1. site condition & weather
- insufficient technical survey being carried out
- greed of developers to insist on impossibleS
- lack of professionalism among the 'everything-yes-consultants' to stand on their principles and expertise
- contractors on site not following drawings and specifications given by consultants
- lack of site supervisions upon commencement of works on site due to cost-saving by developers and consultants
- drastic change of unpredictable climate over the years, affecting the whole world. imagine, malaysia was once free from many natural disaster. we have more earthquakes, tsunamis than before. old building regulations might need to be reviewed to cater for more extreme weather. to some extent, buildings in malaysia might need to be design to withstand earthquakes ? no one knows.

2. non-compliance of technical survey :
- even if technical survey report has been submitted to local authority to obtain development order (d.o), step to ensure compliance is lacking.
- in some cases, it'll become even worse if the consultant submitting the report differs from the one being appointed to monitor the compliance.
- lacking of technical person and resources to ensure compliance within loal authority. in the end, this has becomes the main reasons for them to have almost full immunity against any legal suit against them.
- thus, pushing everything to the consultants. the CCC (certificate of completion and compliance) systems would be the classic example of the government's attempt to put almost FULL responsibilities to the consultants and contractors.
- so, if the consultants and contractors have to bear all the responsibilities, why should they submit to the authority at the first place ? the authority are lacking in technical knowledge BUT have the final say to give green light.

3. workmanship and construction ethics
- was reported on 12/12/2008 (the star newspaper) that putrajaya auditorium experiences roof leakage.
- putrajaya has one of the BEST and STRICT building regulations and submission in malaysia.
- how do we then explain the incident of leakage ? use of cheaper material, differs from the original specifications ? no one knows.

the moral of the story is, we should all stop finger-pointing. there are lots need to be done ... there will be no ending to finger-pointing. it will only fade with the layering of time and nothing's being solved.

federal and state government (including local authority), client, developer, consultant, post-completion appointed maintenance team, contractors, law enforcer, revision of building regulations ... ALL are urged to work closely or the best still is to organise a positive mega-forum, to brainstorm and list out all the possible prevention measures.

Anonymous Says said...

There are neighbouring countries which Malaysia can look to for guidance. Like in Hongkong where is limited land and the buildings have no choice but to go upwards. Same like in Japan. Japan is worse as it has earthquakes every now and then. Hongkong has typhoons. In Malaysia, the size of the land is no problem. But the quality of the land is one that has to be investigated first. When the television showed another landslide in progress, the soil is actually loose and there is nothing hard to support the foundation of the houses. From another angle, the land was seen sinking into itself. Meaning that there is a vacuum somewhere in the depths. The latest tragedy happen to rich people's homes. Already they find themselves in such a dilemma. What if it is a poor men's area ? Not just their homes are destroyed. But all their nice cars and properties. The main department responsible for developments of houses and others should now learn that they have to find out if the land is suitable. Like making sure that it is a hard land and making sure that there are no dangers at all. A lot of strange business has been going on with regards to development and these businesses should be investigated. The culprits should be made accountable and answerable for this sort of tragedy. Even though the country wishes to become first world, yet it has to be careful like safety first in its' development. There is no point looking so first class but workmanship is bad and the quality is bad. How can Malaysia shows herself off ?

Tourism said...

Dr. Chua

We grieve with those whose friends and relatives were victims of the landslides.
As a resident in Bukit Antarabangsa (BA), we are virtually living in a potential death zone. We were made to understand that BA is a water catchment area. Hence, it is not suitable for development.

Not surprisingly, greedy developers had managed to cohort with politicians and local authorities to de-gazette a water catchment area and/or forest reserves to be developed for profits.

Others had mentioned that IF SUCH ACCICDENT WERE TO HAPPEN IN THE WEST, within a couple of hours, the whole nation would be shown on prime time TV the faces of those responsible for approving the project and the CEO of the company which built those homes.

It is rather sad that much critical information are blocked by the Government under the guise of either OSA (Official Secret Act) or by the Government machineries to protect their cronies.

We also understood that there is a ‘Map’ that identifies the risky area (zones) in the country that was never made public. This ‘Map’ if not mistaken is called ‘Peta Risiko’; which will make the public aware of the risk if contemplating to purchase their home at these risky areas.

We trust that political body and leaders such as yours can help us to at least make this information freely available so that the public are fully aware of the risk involved.

Also, we hope that those responsible for approving the project and the CEO of the company which built those homes be identified and make public. Better still, if the Government and the Sultans can stripe off all awards bestowed to them; as this involved lives that were lost on their incompetency, greed or misdeed.

We look forward to your action.

BA Resident J

呉 和豪 said...

YB Dato Dr. Chua Soi Lek

Bravo to the rescue team because they were able to save live with the aid of LIFE DETECTION SYSTEM that operate based on ultrasonic detection principle.We must always commit ourselves to learn new technology.
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