Opening Remarks By Datuk Ng Seing Liong, President of REHDA

19 March 2009, Comments 0





19TH MARCH 2009 (PWTC, KL)

Yang Berbahagia Dato\’ Ahmad bin Haji Kabit

Secretary General, Ministry of Housing and Local Government Malaysia

Yang Berbahagia Prof Dr Mahbob Salim

Executive Director, Institute Sultan Iskandar, University Technology Malaysia

Honoured Guests, Distinguished Speakers,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

A Very Good Morning to all,

First of all I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to Institute Sultan Iskandar (ISI), Universiti Teknologi Malaysia for inviting me to deliver a few words this morning.  It is my privilege and honour to be invited to this National Seminar On Landslide Risk Mitigation And Hillslope Re-Engineering Planning.

YBhg Dato\’

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Since the 1990\\\’s until December 2008 being the most recent, numerous series of landslides had occurred in our country resulting in fatalities and significant damages, even to the extent of taking the lives of our loved ones.  Whilst we share the grief and sufferings caused by these tragic incidents, there is a need to determine and assess the cause of these unfortunate events and formulate action plans to address and mitigate the risk to avoid the re occurrence of these events.

I am very pleased that ISI has taken the initiative to organize this timely seminar as off late much has been said and debated about hillside development.    This is indeed an opportune moment for the professionals and experts to discuss, debate and find possible solutions for sustainable hillside development.  Safe hill site development is not the purview of one entity but instead, authorities and the nation, both public and private; including planners, engineers, developers, should make a concerted effort in coming out with a comprehensive and harmonized regulatory framework for a feasible solution to hill slope management and development.

YBhg Dato\’

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The knowledge in landslide controlled and management has advanced greatly over the last thirty years and Hong Kong is one such country where a relatively successful system of hillside development has been implemented. Although more than 60% of land in Hong Kong is on natural terrain, they have proven that hillside areas can be safely developed and sustained.  With the availability of technology and our professional experts there is no reason why Malaysia is not able to do the same.  We can adopt and emulate the successful model system practised in Hong Kong, for instance establishing a dedicated agency similar to the functions of the Hong Kong Geotechnical Engineering Office (GEO) to deal with and look into the various aspects of hillside development for the whole country.  This agency should be allocated with sufficient resources to undertake research on hillside development and slope safety and also empowered to issue and enforce guidelines and standards, approve development on hillside and monitor slopes.

Another weakness related to hill slope development is the lack of master planning and transparency in the land development and building process.  More often than not, hillside developments are approved and undertaken on a discreet basis without sufficient input on future projects that may take place in the same area.  The lack of proper master planning for developments without taking into consideration the impact of developments in the surrounding areas could result in such mishap of landslides.  Planners therefore should establish and take into consideration the over all Master Plan and coordinate the infrastructure facilities of the whole area so there will be integration and coordination with neighboring development.  With proper coordination and access to information on hillside developments in surrounding areas, development of projects can be carried out more efficiently.

YBhg Dato\’

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Landslide investigation reports revealed that landslides were also due to design errors, inadequate safety factors and lack of maintenance.  However, these issues could be well addressed with more stringent rules enforced along with regular and periodic maintenance of slopes diligently carried out by the relevant authorities.  There are reputable professional bodies in Malaysia which can be appointed to study the design, monitor the construction and maintenance to make hillside development viable and more acceptable from the perspective of safety and environment. As for existing hillside developments, a pragmatic approach must be identified or enhanced to ensure the safety via systematic assessment, proper testing and maintenance programmes.

As I mentioned earlier, a holistic involvement of all relevant parties in adhering to sustainable hillside development must be adopted to ensure safety while any recurrence of future landslides should be minimized and mitigated. Local Authorities have a duty to enforce the required level of safety by way of regulations, Planners will have to come out with a proper master planning and Developers shall assure adequate safety for development on hillside and commission only competent Engineers to work on their projects due to the highly complex technical nature of hill site development. I wish to emphasize that hillside development can be safely carried out in Malaysia provided all the regulatory framework is in place as practiced in Hong Kong or Singapore.  Having said that I would also like to urge that the freezing of approved developments on Class 3 land across the country be lifted immediately to enable developers carry on with their projects as such ban may cause more harm than good to the said land and its surrounding areas.

YBhg Dato\’,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As this seminar brings together professionals and experts in the subject of discussion, it is hoped that the seminar will provide an opportunity for us all to gather as much knowledge and enhance our understanding to facilitate future hillside development. Once again, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate ISI for organising this seminar and to all participants I wish you a fruitful and productive session, may all your queries in the pertinent area be well addressed. All the best!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>