Saturday, October 3, 2009

Could the tragedy of building collapse and the deaths and injuries in Ipoh avoidable?

Today together with local residents and my political secretaries Sdr. Cheong Chee Khing, Sdr. D. Tanabalan and I visited the Fair Park where some old buildings had collapsed. On Friday, two men were killed while another was injured when an row of shop houses collapsed on their car in Jalan Kamaruddin Isa , Fair Park near Raja Permaisuri Bainun Hospital in Ipoh . In May this year, Jaya Supermarket in Petaling Jaya collapsed while demolition was being carried out, killing two Indonesian workers.

Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Kong Cho Ha said yesterday that every developer, engineer and architect must comply with the law if they wanted to demolish old buildings for redevelopment purposes.

"The Majlis Bandaraya Ipoh (MBI) will get reports from the police, the Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH), and the Fire and Rescue Department, and the outcome of the investigation would be submitted to my office this Monday for my perusal," he told the media after visiting the scene.

Kong did not rule out the possibility of negligence as one of the factors contributing to the collapse.

It seems to be the habitual behaviour of BN Ministers to visit a tragedy scene and announce that they have asked for submission of reports.

Given that Jaya Supermarket collapse had just happened less than 6 months ago, Kong should know that the two most basic answers that the public want to know are firstly, what went wrong in the Ipoh building collapse and secondly, why lessons have not been learned from the Jaya Supermarket collapse?

After the Jaya Supermarket collapse, the Cabinet set up a Special Committee to investigate the causes and Datuk Seri Kong had also on September 16 announced that the report was ready and submitted to the Cabinet.

He revealed that several recommendations were also included in the report, particularly on the procedures and proper methods of demolition for different types of buildings.

The first thing that Kong should have done when visiting the scene was therefore to reveal what were the recommendations adopted and whether all local authorities have been provided with the new guidelines and procedures. I will raise this matter at the earliest opportunity when Parliament recommences its sitting which starts on 19thOctober09.

As MBI itself is the approving and supervising authority on demolition work, any investigation must also involve probing any possibility of negligence on the part of MBI. Hence, DAP calls for the setting up of an Independent Committee to probe the causes of collapse.

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