I WRITE on behalf of MyPJ, to rebut the letter to the editor, by CG Tiong published in StarMetro on Feb 22 with the title “TOD and high-density living key to sustainable living”.
MyPJ is a growing pan-Petaling Jaya coalition of 41 residents associations and Rukun Tetangga.
It is a non-partisan organisation with the sole objective of having a better Petaling Jaya.
We are a grassroots organisation and with each organisation representing about 400 households, led by volunteers and community leaders, we are indeed the voice of the community.
The policy, as it is now, appears to be the voice of the developers and the writer of the letter appears to be amplifying such voices. He chose to ignore and belittle the voice of the community by calling those who oppose the present version of TOD in PJ as “selfish and inconsiderate”.
Ask any town planning expert about TOD and his advice would likely be that a TOD without meaningful and sincere public participation is a recipe for failure.
It scares us to imagine the writer’s proposal of planning Petaling Jaya as a “mega city”, which is usually defined as a city in excess of 10 million population.
Whose vision is this? Is that the Mentri Besar’s vision? Or is that the vision of the developers who are motivated solely by profit?
A successful TOD needs a shared vision, credible leadership by a Government committed to see it through with the engagement of the people.
The very basic objective that needs to be set and agreed on is the target population for the city. TOD cannot be driven and propagated by developers and their paid proponents, based on their imagination of a mega-city concept.
Claiming that a plot ratio of 1:8 is “relatively low compared to other major cities” is unfounded and indeed an oversell.
Let us take Singapore for comparison. Even when we take Singapore as our basis, let us be clear that we do not intend for Petaling Jaya to emulate Marina Bay or Raffles Place.
Petaling Jaya is more like Toa Payoh. Termed as a CBD Fringe Centre, Toa Payoh has the maximum TOD plot ratio allowed at 1:4, according to a study by CPG Corporation Singapore, the corporatised Public Works Department of Singapore.
Even in Kowloon, Hong Kong, the plot ratio is not more than 1:6.
It is because we, the residents of Petaling Jaya, have such knowledge of the numerous TOD initiatives in other parts of the world that we are very perplexed and suspicious of the TOD that has been forced upon us.
Has the Selangor government been misled by the developers and its lobbyists?
To engage the state, MyPJ has initiated a campaign #TolakPJTOD to reject TOD in its present form. MyPJ calls upon the Mentri Besar to revisit the TOD policy, to cap the plot ratio to a reasonable level and to develop the PJ-specific guidelines.
The purpose of the guidelines would be to ensure sustainability, to balance population density in proximity to transport hubs with the need for schools, open spaces, parks, recreational spaces, fire services, sewage, and policing.
Without holistic guidelines and rules, developers are given blank cheques without the responsibility of providing infrastructure for schools, places of worship, fire services, parks and recreational facilities.
Not too long ago, when Kelana Jaya was developed in the 80s and 90s, developers were expected to allocate spaces for schools, parks, kindergartens, institutions, places of worship, and low-cost housing. Now we see none of that.
Instead, we see developers and land owners alike making deals based the promise of a 1:8 plot ratio to exploit the littlest plots of land.
We are not just concerned about developers being selfish and irresponsible, we are greatly concerned that without proper guidelines, the current situation is perfect for facilitating corrupt practices.
What the people of Petaling Jaya need is not just TOD. We demand People-Oriented Development or POD, in which TOD is a subset.
We reject the bulldozing of the TOD policy using state instruments upon us.
Together, let us make this city sustainable and liveable.
MyPJ #TolakPJTOD Campaign
Letter originally appeared on The Star Online. Letter is republished here with the permission of the author.