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Monday, May 26, 2008

Damansara project hangs in balance

SELANGOR Dredging Bhd (SDB)'s plan to build 21 luxury bungalows in Damansara Heights hangs in the balance as nearby residents go all out to stop the hillside development, citing safety concerns.

The project, known as Damansara 21 and with a gross development value of up to RM250 million, is not the group's biggest but it has been grabbing newspaper headlines of late because of protests by concerned residents.

SDB's managing director Teh Lip Kim, however, says the protests are unfair as the group has taken pains to ensure that it has gone through all the necessary legal and regulatory processes.

It has also committed to spending RM34 million on infrastructure work to strengthen the slope and increase safety.

Despite going by all the rules, residents are still protesting, she said.

"As a developer and an investor in the country, when all this is called into question, it really puts the investment sentiment of the country at risk," she said in an interview.

SDB's subsidiary, SDB Properties Sdn Bhd, will this week apply to City Hall to lift a stop-work order that it was issued last month for failing to comply with certain safety standards, she said.

It expects to have complied with all the safety standards by then, she said. The group has twice held dialogues with residents and is willing to address any other concerns on safety going forward as well, she said.

Asked if she expects to be given the go-ahead from City Hall given the rising pressure from residents, she said: "The authorities are basically doing what's right, but somehow with all this pressure, they are feeling it. But, I think one has to review whether some of these pressures are reasonable or not. At the end day, the investment climate has to be there for the country to move forward," she said.

She noted that SDB's is not an isolated case as there have also been other developers facing similar issues in the country.

SDB had bought the 5.78 acres of land in Jalan Setia Bistari for RM50 million in 2005.

Michael Yam, deputy president of Real Estate and Housing Developers' Association Malaysia said hill slope developments are common especially in countries such as Hong Kong.

By New Straits Times

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