Know your council’s powers, functions well, Lo told

Tan showing the newspaper article.

By Karen Bong

KUCHING, Jan 18: Padawan Municipal Council (MPP) is responsible to exercise their authority according to the Ordinances and any other written laws, reminded former Stampin MP Julian Tan.

Tan was referring to MPP chairman Lo Khere Chiang’s response to a dispute involving a house owner and a developer cum owner of the land behind the house over a retention wall made of oil drums. Lo’s response was published in a local English daily on Jan 16.

Lo was quoted as saying that MPP had no jurisdiction over land where no buildings have been built and advised the complainant to seek legal advice as the landowner did not submit any development plans on the land to the Land and Survey Department before building the retention wall and earth filling.

The retaining wall is made of oil drums. It spans over 134m in length and reached the height of 12 feet (3.8m) from the ground level where the complainant’s house is sited at Jalan Sungai Moyan, Batu Kawa, here.

“We are utterly shocked with the answers given by Lo. I want to remind him to check the MPP website about the council’s powers and functions as provided under Local Authorities Ordinances 1996 (Chapter 20),” Tan told a press conference at DAP Headquarters here today.

“The council is bound by other Ordinances, Regulations, Acts and By-Laws, including Building Ordinance, 1994.”

Under Chapter 8 of the Building Ordinance 1994, Tan said Section 12 provides the definition of ‘earthworks’ to include any act of excavation, levelling, filling with material on any land, or the removal or transport of rock materials therefrom or any act (including piling and foundation works carried out during construction) which alters in any manner the topography, contour, level or features of any land’.

“Section 8A (1)(a) indicates that no person shall commence or carry out or permit to be commenced or carried out any earthworks without having first submitted to the local authority plans and specifications in respect of the earthworks and obtained the approval of the local authority thereto.”

Tan also referred to Section 8A (2), which provides that where earthworks are to be commenced or carried out for the purpose of the construction of any building, street, drain, sewer, or embankment, or for the laying of any cable or pipe, or for the purpose of any other construction or work whatsoever, the plans and specifications relating to such construction or work required to be submitted under this Ordinance or any by-laws made thereunder shall be submitted to the local authority at the same time as the plans and specifications in respect of the earthworks.

“Isn’t it surprising that Lo even mentioned that the landowner did not submit any development plans to the Land and Survey Department. Then what is stopping MPP from taking action immediately in view of the safety of the residents staying nearby?”

Furthermore, Tan added that it did not require an expert to point out the danger of using oil drums as a retaining wall.

“Ironically, SUPP president Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian is the Minister of Local Government and Housing, in which the Land and Survey Department is under its purview. So what is stopping them to carry out the enforcement immediately?.

“This is just excuses to cover his (Lo) neglect on the interests of the residents.”

This case, Tan added, was a clear example of how SUPP, as a local party, failed to protect the interests of Sarawakians.

“Act now for the sake of the safety of the people affected by the development.”

It is understood that the complainant had approached Lo for help in July last year as he was worried that the substandard retaining wall might collapse and cause injuries and other losses. However, when he did not get any assistance from MPP, he decided to turn to DAP for help. — DayakDaily