Malaysian opposition MPs want police to probe KL City Hall's approval for development at six retention ponds

The action came on the heels of massive floods that have inundated parts of Malaysia last month. PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR - Three Malaysian opposition MPs have lodged a police report over Kuala Lumpur City Hall's (DBKL) move to greenlight housing development at sites of six retention ponds that they say are crucial for flood mitigation in the capital city.

The MPs - Parti Keadilan Rakyat's Mr Fahmi Fadzil and Democratic Action Party's Mr Tan Kok Wai and Ms Hannah Yeoh - wanted the police to investigate and identify those responsible for granting the development approval.

The action came on the heels of massive floods that inundated parts of Malaysia last month, claiming at least 50 lives, and causing billions in damage to property, homes and public infrastructure.

The crisis began on Dec 18 after a month's worth of rain poured down on much of central Peninsular Malaysia in under two days.

Mr Fahmi said on Saturday (Jan 1) the approval went against the technical advice of the Department of Irrigation and Drainage to maintain the water retention zones needed to protect the capital city and Klang Valley from floods.

"Unfortunately, we can see that from 2015 until 2020 (when the Federal Territories Ministry) was between (the tenure of ministers) Tengku Adnan Mansor and Annuar Musa, the sale of the land took place," the Malay Mail quoted Mr Fahmi as saying.

"And our hope is not just the matter be investigated, but if there were any discrepancies involved, those people should be brought to justice."

Mr Tan questioned why the lands where the ponds were sited were not gazetted to prevent them from being developed.

"Due to climate change and extreme weather conditions, the recent (floods) could happen again soon, and possibly every three to five years," Mr Tan said.

Citing the second series of the 2019 Auditor-General's Report, Ms Yeoh said the report had found that the retention ponds had been approved and alienated for development.

She claimed one of the ponds currently only has a cumulative water retention area of 30 per cent, which she pointed out can cause rivers in Kuala Lumpur to overflow their banks in the event of torrential rains.

Experts have said that overdevelopment and lack of conservation of water catchment areas, coupled with a lack of disaster preparedness, exposed Malaysia to the worst effects of the floods.

While acknowledging that an abnormal amount of rain is probably a sign of climate change that will likely happen again, experts said the floods are the "price" Malaysia has to pay for its land mismanagement and poor attitude towards river and drainage conservation.

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