Taking the slum out of Kg Baru
IF Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim did indeed come up with a plan 15 years ago to redevelop Kampung Baru without the Malays losing ownership of any of the land, the Federal government should revisit Khalid's work.
The recent proposal by the Federal Territories and Urban Wellbeing Ministry to jointly redevelop this Malay Settlement with non-Malay parties on a 60:40 basis didn't go down too well with the residents and Raja Nong Chik Raja Zainal Abidin, the Minister concerned, has conceded that he is more than happy with 100 per cent.
Khalid and Raja Nong Chik are political foes but there are times when partisan politics should be put on the back-burner. After all, when Khalid did the proposal for the Federal government 15 years ago, he wasn't a politician and PKR wasn't even born yet.
Khalid was head of the Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB), the BN-led Federal government's biggest investment arm back then. Now, even though he is with the Opposition, Khalid still believes that Kampung Baru should remain 100 per cent in Malay hands. Well and good. Who's to argue with that?
In this age when Bumiputra-Malays' 30 per cent equity share — as conceived under the NEP, now the New Economic Model — is often questioned and sometimes ridiculed, an Opposition leader's advocacy for 100 per cent should be welcomed. Let's hope Khalid will be consistent when it comes to affairs affecting his own State, Selangor.
Kampung Baru's redevelopment is crucial to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak. Politically, he would succeed in doing what his predecessors tried but failed to do (Khalid's "plan" was hatched when Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was PM and Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was his deputy).
Economically, the tenders and contracts will benefit businesses and provide jobs. Socially, and this, thanks to Khalid Ibrahim's support, too, the Malays will have the chance to own 100 per cent of a slice of KL that is as developed as the rest of the city.
The important thing to do now is to get the residents to agree to the redevelopment plans. Raja Nong Chik seems to have made great strides here. At his last meeting with the residents' representatives, the idea of creating a holdings company to oversee the development was adopted.
We can expect him to use the same formula applied to Kampung Kerinchi, another Malay settlement in KL, which will be redeveloped to add value to its assets. To date, only 18 out of the 500-odd families in Kampung Kerinchi are against the redevelopment plans.
Next step. Perhaps Naza-TTDI should be persuaded to relocate its proposed taller-than-KLCC building from Matrade to Kampung Baru? Naza, one of NEP's success stories, had its roots in Kampung Baru itself.
One big believer in the proposed Kampung Baru redevelopment is Datuk Mohd Radzif Mohd Yunus. If you were following the hostile bid to take over the Institut Jantung Negara (IJN) by certain parties back in 2008, you may remember that Mohd Radzif was the CEO then. This 52-year-old low-profiled operator was not keen on the takeover.
(So were a group of influential bloggers who initiated a "Save IJN" campaign to thwart the attempt).
The National Heart Institute was set up by Dr Mahathir to cater to all. The takeover would have turned IJN into a specialist centre for only those who can afford to pay.
Mohd Radzif is a product of this slum called Kampung Baru. He also believes it is time the government redevelop the land with residents.
If the idea of the corporation had come earlier, Mohd Radzif told friends he would have happily volunteered to be part of it.
But come next Thursday, on July 1, the former IJN CEO, whose sister and mother still live in Kampung Baru, takes over SME Bank as its new managing director. The bank's headquarters, incidentally, is at the fringe of Kampung Baru.
Ahirudin Attan is group editorial adviser for The Malay Mail, Bernama TV and The Malaysian Reserve. He blogs at rockybru.com.my.