People hold signs during a protest against the proposed land acquisition in Bukit Bintang for
MRT project, in Kuala Lumpur, October 12, 2011.
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 12 — Bukit Bintang traders held a protest today urging the government to stick to plans for two Klang Valley Mass Rapid Transit (KVMRT) stations on either end of Jalan Bukit Bintang instead of the current single-station proposal.
Two stations, BB West and BB East, were originally meant to bookend the capital’s premier shopping district but the proposal was later dropped in favour of a single station opposite BB Plaza and Lot 10.
Bukit Bintang Protem Action Committee chairman Datuk Chong Peng Wah said the current BB Central proposal would mean tearing down decades-old shops and displacing businesses that helped make Bukit Bintang a renowned tourist hotspot.
“It’s very dangerous to touch an established tourist place,” he told reporters here after leading the protest with MCA Federal Territories 1 Malaysia Task Force deputy chief Frankie Gan.
“The moment you replace it with something faceless, there is no guarantee (tourists will want to come).”
Chong, 74, said that apart from losses that landowners and traders will suffer, traffic congestion during construction of the station would also irreparably hurt Bukit Bintang’s reputation as a shopping haven for tourists.
“If this area is compromised for the next four or five years, how long do you think it would take to build up that tourist landmark again?” he said.
This was especially worrisome given the current economic downturn, said Chong, who warned the government it risked losing the cache of goodwill built up in recent months if Putrajaya did not listen to the people’s grouses.
He added that the government “must always put the rice bowl of the workers, the businesses first” before considering other aspects of a potentially disruptive project like the KVMRT.
Former project owner Syarikat Prasarana Negara Bhd (SPNB) said in August that 20 lots in Bukit Bintang will be acquired for tunnelling works and an underground station.
SPNB project development director Zulkifli Mohd Yusoff had said the lots along Jalan Bukit Bintang, Jalan Imbi, Jalan Jati, Jalan Inai, Jalan Kamuning, Jalan Kampung and Jalan Utara would be acquired under the Land Acquisition Act 1960.
But he denied claims the government intended to develop prime land in the Golden Triangle to offset the cost of Malaysia’s most ambitious infrastructure project to date, saying the acquisition was to ensure the safety of the tunnel.
The Malaysian Insider understands the lots include two fast-food restaurants, a Porsche showroom, a batik gallery, a private club, offices and residential properties.
Landowners said their properties were not included during the three-month public display of the KVMRT project, which began in February, and that some had yet to receive officialnotices.
Work on the Sungai Buloh-Kajang (SBK) line of the KVMRT is scheduled to begin next month.
The multi-billion ringgit project is expected to be completed in 2016 and will begin operations in January 2017.
The SBK line will cover a distance of 51km, of which 9.5km will be underground. Seven of the 31 stations proposed will also be underground.