Allowing of damages to be assessed against applicants in a Public Interest Judicial Review case, is unprecedented in Malaysia. It is a denial of every Malaysian’s fundamental right to seek judicial review on actions by authorities.
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PETITION AGAINST DEVELOPER BEING ALLOWED ASSESSMENT OF DAMAGES AGAINST RESIDENTS IN A PUBLIC INTEREST CASE
In 2008, 103 residents within Bukit Gasing area, in the interest of several thousand residents living in the proximity of Bukit Gasing (KL side), commenced a Judicial Review on the DBKL Mayor’s refusal to grant concerned residents a public hearing on the development of 68 luxury homes on Bukit Gasing- KL side. Gasing Meridian Sdn Bhd applied to join the case as a 2nd Respondent.
The primary reason for the filing of Judicial Review was the fear for loss of lives and damage to properties. The proposed development on Bukit Gasing (KL side) had several steep gradients and the composition of the soil is sand and shale. In the circumstances, the residents feared that the development if allowed, would cause landslides and end in a tragedy similar to the Highland Towers tragedy (1993). There have also been several other tragic landslides at developments on steep gradients resulting in the loss of lives and destruction of property. Bukit Antarabangsa (December 2008), Orphanage at Hulu Langat (May 2011), Bukit Setiawangsa (December 2012), Dang Wangi LRT (May 2013) and Cameron Highlands (November 2014) are just some tragic recent examples.
The Bukit Gasing case was filed in February 2008 and on 6th September 2010, the High Court, Kuala Lumpur gave judgement against our request for a public hearing and thus in favour of the developer permitting development on Bukit Gasing. This decision was affirmed by the Court of Appeal and the Federal Court. The High Court in May 2013 also allowed the Developer the right to file assessment for damages against the 103 residents. This decision was affirmed by the Court of Appeal. The case is now in the Federal Court, where a “Leave Application “is pending for the case to be heard by the Federal Court
The allowing of damages to be assessed against applicants in a Public Interest Judicial Review case, is unprecedented in Malaysia. It is even more questionable as the award is to Gasing Meridian that had joined the case as a 2nd Respondent. In fact in August 1996, a Judicial Review case was brought by an associated company of Gasing Meridian in their development in Bukit Gasing (Petaling Jaya side) for damages, was thrown out by the High Court, Shah Alam, Selangor.
The allowing of assessment of damages, in the present case, has severe consequences. It will prevent any citizen or civil society from filing a Public Interest case, for fear of having to pay damages if they should lose their case. This is of particular significance where Local Councils and developers throughout Malaysia are concerned. No one will dare to bring a Public Interest case against them. It is a denial of every Malaysian’s fundamental right to seek judicial review on actions by authorities that impact their fundamental rights.
Citizens have a fundamental right to seek a Public Interest Judicial Review at the Courts on actions taken by authorities that are questionable. Such a re-course must be maintained without the threat of damages that will significantly intrude on the rights of any citizen or body of citizens.
We seek your support to counter this threat to fundamental rights of all Malaysians. As a first step, you can support by signing the Petition.
On behalf of residents and supporters of the Judicial Review Case against DBKL’s refusal to grant a public hearing on development on steep hill slopes in Bukit Gasing.
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