THE STORY OF DASH (6.9.16)

DASH logo (Prolintas website)

Billions of ringgit obviously speaks a lot louder than a group of residents whose lives are impacted by this lawless government.

Michelle Wong

When residents of Damansara Perdana and Mutiara Damansara came together in 2012 to oppose a highway project known as the Damansara-Shah Alam Highway (DASH) that was not openly announced, we knew we would be facing an uphill and arduous battle.

We are after all normal residents without any influence or power. We are not politicians nor the elected representatives for the affected constituency of Bukit Lanjan.

We entrusted the responsibility of governing our beloved city to the government and authorities with some faith that it will be done proper, especially after all the passionate speeches and promises that were made by our ADUN and Selangor Exco of Environment and Green Technology Elizabeth Wong. Together with Subang MP Sivarasa Rasiah, they made passionate pledges to us in 2012, declaring that the DASH highway would not go through their constituency where it was objected.

Both politicians said there was no place for a highway like DASH to come through an already dense housing area like Damansara Perdana and at close proximity to Mutiara Damansara.

Yet no sooner were they re-elected in 2013, the developer would announce progress reports that the highway project had received yet another approval from the Selangor government. Not once did Pakatan Rakyat publicly rebuke the developer or even made studies to be redone and alternatives to be looked into.

When residents confronted Elizabeth Wong about the developer’s announcements in 2015, she tweaked her initial story and told us that the DASH project was approved but it would not be allowed to go through Damansara Perdana because we objected to it and they will see to it that it will end in NKVE.

This same story was presented to Azmin Ali when the residents met him in December 2014, who then subsequently promised that DASH would not go through areas where residents strongly opposed to it.

Despite these repeated assurances, more and more news reports throughout 2015 announced that the project tenders were awarded and that Damansara Perdana and Mutiara Damansara would be part of the highway. The project tenders advertisements were declared illegal by Elizabeth Wong when we met her in October 2015.

By March 2016, Elizabeth Wong pledged via a news report that she would discuss alternative alignments and project progress with residents but never bothered contacting resident groups to make good on her statement to the media. Well, that meeting never took place till today.

Instead, the residents of Damansara Perdana are now faced with the stark reality that the Selangor government had quietly signed off on the land acquisition orders in May 2016 to allow the project to proceed through Damansara Perdana affecting the forced acquisition of the private land of several condo parcels.

Several forest reserves are being de-gazetted to facilitate the construction of DASH, but that is of no concern to the State Exco of Environment and Green Technology. Instead, her idea of ‘green’ is her proudly declaring on her Facebook page that she is testing Tesla cars that would somehow make Selangor greener than all the trees that would be destroyed.

Seeing the Paya Indah Wetlands case, it looks like we are not the only bullied and vicitmised people of the government of Azmin Ali.

Most of all, we would expect that government of Pakatan Rakyat to NOT repeat the issues they have condemned and promised to differ and change from Barisan Nasional, now that they being the current ruling State government for Selangor. This is clearly not the case.

Residents’ and Public Apathy

Four years (almost five) is a long time to fight a cause. It is tiring, and the dwindling presence of residents was apparent to all of us. I have personally sacrificed my own personal time and commitments just for this cause.

In March 2012, there were a thousand of us who marched. But by March 2016, those who were willing to come out to gather and protest numbered at only a couple of hundreds.

Some trusted their ADUN and government to make the right decisions after all the promises they have made. Some gave up, not because the cause did not matter anymore but it is truly an arduous journey for residents who have their own personal commitments and salaried jobs to tend to.

As a group of residents, we tried our best in our own capacity. We did everything we could and we followed the process required to object to this highway but it is difficult indeed to fight a lawless government like Pakatan Rakyat.

To right the wrong, we need to sue the government. But that action too is wrought with personal risk because the developer is allowed to intervene in such lawsuits and could demand millions in compensation. This is something that is impossible for a single person or party to undertake.

This is why we need a trustworthy and genuine people’s representative sitting at the assembly to protect the constituents’ interests.

Sadly, all we can do now is voice our regret; regret that we voted the wrong person and party into office and regret that our fellow residents slowly grew apathetic to the issue and allowed a corrupt government to do as it pleases. Billions of ringgit obviously speaks a lot louder than a group of residents whose lives are impacted by this lawless government.

So take heed of this story as a painful lesson that we residents of Damansara Perdana and Mutiara Damansara learned. Remember, who you voted for and remember that what you allow to happen today, will only continue into the future.

Source: Malaysia Today

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