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PETALING JAYA, June 4:

‎Any project which fails to obtain the free and prior consent of residents at the area where the development is intended to be is in breach of human rights.

The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) stressed that developers of the ‎Kinrara Damansara Expressway (Kidex), a controversial RM2.4 billion mega construction can, therefore, be held liable if it failed to obtain the said consent.

“Any project that involves a community needs the corporation responsible for it to first seek the free and prior consent of the residents.

“This is one of the factors which needs to be looked into,” Suhakam commissioner James Nayagam said.

‎When asked if the project could be brought to a halt should the developers be found to have indeed failed to do so, Nayagam said there were other factors after the consent issue that needed to be checked as well.

“But it is important that they obtain the free and prior consent first and foremost,” Nayagam said during a discussion with Petaling Jaya residents here.

Nayagam then questioned the residents as to whether their consent was asked and the reply was a resounding “no”.

“In that case, we have to do some checks here,” he added.

Vice-chairman of the “Say No to Kidex” committee P. Selva said there was also no prior notice and when necessary documents of the project were demanded from the expressway’s developer, the residents were told the papers were highly classified and those who made it public could go behind bars.

“We were also asked if we were jointly willing to be jailed. This is criminal intimidation already,” Selva exclaimed.

“They said that the expressway is being built for public ease, but how is a tolled expressway any good for the public? This is just wrong!”

Nayagam then assured the residents that Suhakam will also be the facilitator for the residents to meet the stakeholders involved in the project.

“Suhakam will be the official facilitator for these meetings and this will bear some weightage when the times comes … it really will,” he added.

The residents then requested that Suhakam arrange a meeting with Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim, who they say, had been absent from discussions pertaining to the project, since the implementation of Kidex falls under Abdul Khalid’s purview.

“We have written to him on many counts, but while he acknowledged our letters and replied, he has not participated in the meetings,” Selva added.

To this, Nayagam said he needed time to engage with the necessary parties before confirming anything.

“I would also have to start investigating the grouses voiced by the residents.” .

‎The expressway is to start from Bandar Kinrara and cuts through Petaling Jaya, Damansara Kim and Kayu Ara, before ending near Bandar Utama.

The project will also be claiming 3,784 lots along the way, and this is another main concern, alongside the environmental damage the resident are objecting to.

Reports have claimed that for Kidex’s 14.9km length, it is the country’s most expensive highway or skyway, as the elevated structure has been coined, costing a whopping RM148 million per kilometre.

Its developer, Kidex Sdn Bhd, had previously claimed that once the expressway is ready, it will also help to significantly reduce travel time between Damansara and Kinrara, as well as ease traffic congestion.

However, the residents refuted this, claiming that PJ is not affected by increased traffic‎.

Abdul Khalid has also been called upon on several occasions by his own party members to reconsider the project as it is not in tandem with Pakatan Rakyat’s manifesto in its “Buku Jingga”.

Abdul Khalid, however, has placed his feet firmly on the ground in backing the project, saying that it is for the betterment of Klang Valley residents.

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