Three years on, Kg Baru redevelopment plan remains challenging for KBDC

There are scepticisms that the PITPKB is too grandiose for the people in the area, as the plan aims to accommodate up to 77,000 people within the 121.8ha land area


When the “Kampung (Kg) Baru Detailed Development Master Plan” (PITPKB) was launched in 2015, there were huge expectations that the plan would transform the Malay enclave into a modern 21st-century Kampung Melayu.

Still, there were scepticisms that the masterplan was too grandiose for the people in the area, as the plan aims to include up to 17,500 residential units of development, which could accommodate up to 77,000 people within the 121.8ha land area.

High-rise condominium and mega skyscraper projects are expected to house the area. In its original plan, the previous Barisan Nasional government aimed to complete the whole development by 2035.

The scepticism was not unfounded as the project prime mover, Kg Baru Development Corp (KBDC) found itself inherited the same set of problems faced by the past and current governments: Unresolved issues of ownership, land titles and price valuations.

Divided into four areas, the prime land in Kg Baru is centred around the 89ha Malay Agriculture Settlement (MAS) plot.

“We have four zones surrounding Kg Baru known as the MAS land, the flats and Kg Sungai Baru areas, Social Security Organisation (Socso) office zone and the Jalan Chow Kit area.

“When we were first established, we were tasked to focus the development of the MAS plot as the Malay agriculture reserve land, which covers 80% of the total land area,” KBDC CEO Zulkurnain Hassan told The Malaysian Reserve in an interview recently.

“We have been concentrating in MAS due to the factors of the overlapping and non-traceability of land ownership, as well as the issue of the longstanding inheritance property that is complex to be resolved,” Zulkurnain said.

Of the total 121.8ha, Zulkurnain said 32.4ha of the land sit outside the MAS plot, which has a different set of development rules and priority set for KBDC.

The three residential areas are labelled as “Jalan Tun Razak” with 252 units of flats (2.4ha), the “17-storey” with 284 units (0.67ha) and the 5.1ha Kg Sungai Baru area which houses 264 units of flats, as well as 96 units of terraces.

The remaining land plot sits on the Jalan Chow Kit area and the Socso office zone.

“After the new government came in, we are expanding our attention to the flats area, as well as the Kg Sungai Baru sectors, not limiting to the MAS zone only. Some new members representing the area have also come onto board last year,” Zulkurnain said.

He added that KBDC would have to “do away” with the pockets of land at Jalan Chow Kit and the Socso office in Jalan Tun Razak, as they are not highly critical to be developed as detailed in the PITPKB programme.

Working on Non-MAS Area

Zulkurnain said KBDC is pushing for the redevelopment of Kg Sungai Baru housing areas as most of the landowners are easier to be identified.

He acknowledged that it is difficult for the developer to convince the terrace owners, who have been living for almost half of the century to move to condominium units.

“Of the 96 owners, only about eight of them agree to the redevelopment. Although it is going to be a high-rise condominium, they hardly could let go their landed property,” he said.

When we were first established, we were tasked to focus the development of the MAS plot as it is the Malay agriculture reserve land, which covers 80% of the total land area, says Zulkurnain (Pic: Muhd Amin Naharul/TMR)

According to Zulkurnain, although all the flat unit owners in Kg Sungai Baru have agreed to the plan, it only comprises about 50% of the total property area.

The 54-storey condominium project by Suez Domain Sdn Bhd, if materialised, is expected to be the catalyst for the MAS land area resolution. The developer is working to get at least 80% of the total landowners agree to the project.

Currently, houses at Kg Sungai Baru are valued between RM100,000 (flats) and RM300,000 (landed), while each unit of proposed condominium is valued at more than RM1 million.

“I also suggest that the developers work on the other flats area as it is not as complex as the MAS area.

“For instance, seven blocks of flats at Jalan Tun Razak may be the best way to start with as they have no terrace unit, and surely they need the redevelopment to get a better house.

“We only need to settle the strata ownership dispute of about 90 units. Then it should be ready to go to the next phase of redevelopment talks,” Zulkurnain added.

KBDC’s New Board Line-up

Zulkurnain said KBDC has a new set of board line-up with no political appointees to ensure a smoother restructuring and redevelopment plan.

Based on the KBDC Act 2011, the appointment of KBDC chairman must be approved by the prime minister, while other members could be endorsed by the federal territories minister.

After the 14th General Election, then KBDC chairman Datuk Affendi Zahari vacated his post and was succeeded by former auditor-general Tan Sri Ambrin Buang.

“Before this, the appointment was made based on political interest, which must be referred to the government’s party, which is Umno. That is why our previous chairman was appointed from political party lea-ders,” Zulkurnain said.

“However, under the new government, they are trying to do away with a political appointment. As such, Ambrin — a credible bureaucrat was appointed to ensure that our restructuring plan could be carried in a smoother way,” he said.

Apart from Ambrin, KBDC also appointed 10 new faces to be board members, which include Datuk Rosida Jaafar, Datuk Ramli Mahmud and Datuk Seri Dr Sallehuddin Isha.

The Kuala Lumpur mayor quota, which is also part of the KBDC board was filled by Datuk Nor Hisham Ahmad Dahlan, while former SME Bank Malaysia Bhd group MD Datuk Mohd Radzif Mohd Yunus maintains his position in the agency.

“Our advisory board, comprising 15 people who advise the committee on the development plan related to the Malay custom and culture, also does not involve close political associates.

“Only one political activist is appointed. He, however, does not hold any significant position in the party,” Zulkurnain said.

“All the restructuring processes and appointments were made according to the KBDC Act.

“As for the KBDC, we are the agency that executes the policy set by the government and the board members. No changes in our structure so far,” he added.

New Survey and Expectations

Zulkurnain said among the programmes that were discussed and agreed by the new board is to conduct a new thorough survey from Kg Baru residents.

As of last December, Zulkurnain said they have gathered more than 20% of the total of 5,697 survey forms distributed to the MAS landlords, as well as the Kg Sungai Baru houseowners.

“Prior to this, we had only received negative feedback rejecting the redevelopment plan. However, we feel that the sessions were represented by just a handful of them (residents).

“The silent majority may also have their own views, but they just kept quiet. That is why we believe they could voice their opinions better, discreetly through the survey,” Zulkurnain said.

The survey, among others, are aimed to gauge the sentiment of the Malays in loosening up the Kg Baru “MAS” status to allow non-Malay buyers to own properties there.

“After we presented the data to the Federal Territories Ministry, it is up to the government to decide on the next course of action,” he said. The study is expected to be presented before month-end.

He said, depending on the national fiscal capabilities, the government may also opt for land acquisition, which would pass the burden of proof towards the landowners to give evidence that they have the rights of the property.

The move is believed to be the final ultimate solution towards the prolonged ownership tussles and contentious development agreements.

“We have also included this issue in our survey, so we can get better sentiment about it,” he said.