Author: Hidir Reduan Abdul Rashid
Published: Jul 10, 2023 11:48 AM
Updated: 2:20 PM
Four Petaling Jaya residents today obtained civil court leave to commence judicial review over the authorities’ alleged refusal to hand over the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and other documents linked to the controversial proposed Petaling Jaya Dispersal Link (PJD Link) highway.
The High Court in Kuala Lumpur allowed the judicial review leave application by the residents during proceedings conducted via an exchange of emails this morning.
When contacted by Malaysiakini, the residents’ counsel Lim Wei Jiet confirmed the outcome of the legal action that seeks not only the project’s EIA report but also its Social Impact Assessment (SIA) and Traffic Impact Assessment (TIA) reports, as well as the project’s concession agreement, which is classified under the Official Secrets Act 1972.
“(Judge) Amarjeet Singh Serjit Singh granted leave (for the four Petaling Jaya residents) to proceed with the application for judicial review,” Lim said.
The lawyer explained that the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC), which appeared for the government, objected to the leave application on several technical grounds, but that the civil court dismissed the objections.
Lim added that the court has set July 24 for further case management of the judicial review. With leave granted, the court would later set a separate date to hear parties’ oral submissions on the merits of the legal action.
When contacted by Malaysiakini, the AGC’s federal counsel M Kogilambigai also confirmed the outcome.
No response to ultimatum
On June 7, the four Petaling Jaya residents filed the legal action over the alleged refusal by the authorities to abide by a seven-day ultimatum to hand over the project’s documents.
The present judicial review targets four respondents - the Town and Country Planning Department (PlanMalaysia) director-general, the director of PlanMalaysia Selangor, the Selangor state government, and the federal government.
According to a copy of the affidavit in support of the legal action, Petaling Jaya resident T Chakaravarthi contended they were forced to resort to the judicial review leave application as the authorities failed to respond to the ultimatum.
Chakaravarthi contended that as the residents would be directly and indirectly affected by the PJD Link project, they have a right to access the documents in order to obtain comprehensive and in-depth information on the scope, impact, and related terms of the project.
The Petaling Jaya resident also contended, among others, they need to access the SIA report to ascertain the impact of the PJD Link project on the local community and their activities, taking into account factors such as whether the project was accepted by the community.
Chakaravarthi claimed they also need to access the project’s concession agreement to allow residents and the general public to give their input on whether the terms are one-sided to the company involved in it, or whether the terms do not benefit the local community or environment.
Lack of transparency
The group previously launched an independent SIA report with the participation of 2,501 residents impacted by the proposed PJD Link highway alignment.
The purpose of the survey stemmed from an alleged lack of transparency regarding the official SIA and to obtain the views of stakeholders in the PJD Link construction area.
The online survey held from Feb 6 to May 1 this year concluded that 88.6 percent of respondents strongly disagreed with the PJD Link.
Additionally, 93.6 percent of respondents stated they and their families will be impacted by this project.
Damansara Kim resident Dominic Wong reportedly said the group’s independent SIA was submitted to PlanMalaysia Selangor and Putrajaya on May 12 for consideration.
The group’s SIA was also submitted to the Department of Environment (DOE).
The Works Ministry on July 5, 2022, stated that the cabinet had already approved, in principle, the PJD Link on Nov 12, 2017. The final approval is, however, subject to further negotiations.
According to the statement, a concession agreement was signed on April 5 last year, which required the developer to fulfil the requirements of the EIA, SIA, and TIA before the agreement could take effect and construction begin.
According to the PJD Link website, it will have a total of 11 interchanges spanning from Bandar Utama to the Bukit Jalil Highway, connecting with expressways such as the Federal Highway, Sprint, New Pantai Expressway, and Kesas Highway.
On June 15 this year, Works Minister Alexander Nanta Linggi said there is no need to declassify the PJD Link concession agreement despite earlier urgings by three PKR MPs - Wong Chen (Subang), Lee Chean Chung (Petaling Jaya), and William Leong Jee Keen (Selayang) - for the government to consider the declassification.
For the full article available on Malaysiakini, click here.