Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Minister to reveal fate of iconic building after meeting with Heritage Commission

The grounds of the Vivekananda Ashram in Brickfields looks much like it did in the 1900s. Sources say that the trustees have agreed for the 110-year-old building to be designated a heritage site but rejected plans to gazette its grounds.
THE fate of the century-old Vivekananda ashram in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur, will be revealed in Parliament next week.

It is speculated that the Government will announce its final decision on the future of the building, after it was learnt that the trustees had appealed against the call to gazette the ashram as a heritage asset.

Sources at the Tourism and Culture Ministry told StarMetro that the trustees had agreed to the 110-year-old building being designated as a national heritage site but were not in favour of the surrounding land being gazetted.

“They have appealed against this decision, so now, the ball is in Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz’s court,” said the source.

“It is entirely up to the minister to make the final decision.”

Ipoh Barat MP M. Kulasegaran, who submitted a question asking for updates on the ashram in Parliament said, “This is a matter of public interest.

“People are asking me, it has been more than a year since the news broke.

“About 100,000 people have signed the petition opposing the development, asking the Government to protect the site from future projects.

“We had two meetings with Nazri and the Heritage Commissioner at Parliament House but people have the right to know the latest development, and we are hoping to get some answers in Parliament,” added Kulasegaran.

When contacted, Nazri confirmed that the trustees had made an appeal but said he was not able to reveal anything for now.

He said a meeting would be called this week with the Heritage Commission on the matter.

Heritage Commissioner Dr Zainah Ibrahim told StarMetro in July that the department had notified the trustees on the Government’s intention to gazette the building as per Section 31 of the National Heritage Act 2005.

Zainah’s intention on gazetting the site was published in local newspapers.

Under the law, she said the trustees had 30 days to appeal after the notice was published.

If no appeals were received within 30 days, she said they would proceed to file a notice with the Land Office for the ashram to be classified a heritage site.

However, with the trustees’ appeal, the decision now lies solely with Nazri, who has the final say over the matter.

Last year, on Oct 16, StarMetro broke the story on development plans involving the ashram.

The news generated a public outcry and the Government was urged to step in and stop the trustees from going ahead with the project.

Following protests, the Heritage Commission had on Jan 14, notified the trustees of its intention to designate the building.

However, the trustees rejected the government’s proposal and subsequently a hearing was held to hear their appeal.

The trustees had first tried to sell the land about 26 years ago and made another attempt 11 years ago for RM15mil but both were aborted after public protests.

After the most recent plans were revealed, more than 100,000 signatures were collected to oppose the ashram’s redevelopment.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Media statement by M. Kula Segaran MP Ipoh Barat and DAP National Vice Chairman at Lim Gardens on 26th October 2015

Democratic Principles of Consultation

Any decision making concerning land that is next to a school and has the characteristics of residential land, should take the rights of the school and its surroundings neighbors into consideration before any major decisions are made to convert the Land. For instance there should be consultation among authorities with the school and surrounding residence on any commercial proposals that would affect the integrity of the school and peace of the neighbors.

Historical Institution

St. Philomenia a Tamil girls school was built some time in the early 1930’s. It served as the main primary Tamil school for the children of parents residing in the Buntong area.The school has a enrolment of students from surrounding areas. In the last few years the school has been one of the top achievers in the UPSR exams.

Absents of space for playing Field

The main set back of the school is the lack of a playing field for the students. For over 20 years the school and the parent’s teachers association (PIBG) have been applying to the state authorities to alienate a piece of land measuring some 1.5 acres to the school to be used as a playing field. There is a vacant land adjoining the school which is readily available for this purpose.

Secret Dealings

instead meeting the legitimate and lawful request of the school, the strategic land which could be utilized as a playing field has been alienated to Yayasan Perak a State subsidiary. None of the adjoining neighbor’s or others was ever consulted on this “secret” alienation. The basic question that comes to mind is why has the State failed to seek consensus with the school and surrounding residence before alienating the said land? Why has the state failed to exercise the alienation in favor of an open field? Was there any corruption involved in forging a secret deal between state officials and commercial elites? Priority of alienation of the land should have been for the open field since it meets the needs of school students for space that could be used for sports and co- curriculum activities.

Residence in the Dark

The school administrators, parents and the immediate neighbor’s are now in a shock that this priceless land has been agreed to be developed into a commercial shopping area. Yesterday the Parents Teachers Association President St. Philomena Mr. Jayaselan, the representative of residents from Solok Segar M/s A. Jayanthi of Lim Gardens and residents from Kg. Tai Lee met up with me as the MP for the local area to discuss this issue. All present agreed that the 1.6 acre is most suitable to be left as an open area and to be cleared for the school to use as a playing field and to be enjoyed by the adjoining neighbors

Principle Objections

As the local council is now in the process to consider the request of the developers to convert the said land from housing to commercial, all present have agreed to present objections to it. The principle objections of the commercial development are,

1) The school and the adjoining neighbors will be denied a open field

2) traffic will increase and will cause inconvenience to surrounding residence

3) The Church parish will be severely affected due to traffic congestion, during normal and festive time.

4) The school is too near for commercial development and may disrupt the learning context of students.

Alternative Land for commercial development

In view of the above it is obvious that the alienated land does not serve the common good of the surrounding area, because the State authorities have denied the right of the school for a playing field and surrounding residence the right to scrutinize development plans that could affect their collective wellbeing. Therefore the developer should be asked to look elsewhere to develop commercial lands and the state can easily alienate land for this purpose.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

DAP to hold colloquium on ‘trickle up’ economics

Instead of talking about ‘trickle down’ economics, the country should shift its attention to ‘trickle up’ economics, said DAP national vice-chair M Kulasegaran.

“With our depreciating ringgit, increases in cost of living, and the move to import more cheap foreign labor, our country is headed for deeper immersion in the rut of a law wage and labor intensive economy,” observed the MP for Ipoh Barat.

“We should instead shift our gears to embrace technological change and emphasise training for our workers to propel to a high wage, low labour and higher technological economy,” argued the federal legislator.

In pursuit of that end, Kulasegaran said his party is organising a colloquium in Ipoh on Saturday.

The colloquium, which will be opened by Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, will feature speakers from the employers’ and unions’ sectors of the economy.

“They are likely to hold forth on how a ‘trickle up’ approach to revitalising our economy would be a better avenue out our current problems of a low wage, labour intensive economy,” said Kulasegaran.

“This approach will empower the lower and middle classes of society which would then propel us out of the rut we are in,” he elaborated.

“Thus far we have had too much emphasis of a ‘trickle down’ approach which emphasis capital investment and investments in infrastructure.

“It’s time we invested in training in our our striving middle class which has been badly affected by the rising cost of living and a depreciating ringgit” opined Kulasegaran.

The colloquium will be held on Saturday at the Old Anderson Club from nine in the morning to 2pm. Speakers will include Shamsuddin Bardhan of the Malaysian Employers Federation, DAP state assembly rep A Sivanesan (Sungkai), Somasundran from Malaysian Trades Union Congress, and lawyer A Saraswathy.