KUALA LUMPUR, May 24 (Bernama) — Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said today a report on the landslide tragedy in Hulu Langat would be submitted to the Cabinet to draw up guidelines on development on agricultural land and hillslopes.
The prime minister said occupants of houses and buildings located near hillslopes were exposed to the risk of landslides and many structures on agricultural land did not adhere to guidelines.
“The Cabinet will get a full report of the tragedy and will set suitable guidelines based on the report and recommendations,” he told reporters after visiting the site of the landslide which hit an orphanage, Rumah Anak-anak Yatim dan Anak-anak Hidayah Madrasah Al-Taqwa.
Last Saturday’s landslide trapped 25 people in the rubble. Nine of them were rescued but the 16 others were killed.
Najib, who was accompanied by his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, went directly to the landslide site upon his return from the United States following a working visit which also took him to Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Kingdom.
Najib also called for an examination of all houses and other structures erected on agricultural land to ascertain the risk they faced from landslides.
The National Land Code permitted the construction of houses on agricultural land but they must be built in accordance with the guidelines, he said.
Asked whether the government would take more stern action against landowners who were reluctant to move despite their land being classified as risky, Najib said it was a question of choice.
“Maybe their land is most valuable and is the only property that they own. So long as there is no disaster, they are not prepared to do anything to adhere to the guidelines,” he said.
Najib said landowners should be prepared to sacrifice a little, but unfortunately many of them were not willing to do so.
“The landowners have to make a choice once a notice is issued. They should adhere to the notice or they will be exposing themselves to the risk of losing lives,” he said.
Najib also said that there were regulations pertaining to construction of houses on hillslopes which should be adhered to.
Asked whether the government planned to establish a special agency on hillslope management in the country, the prime minister said it would depend on the report on the tragedy and related recommendations.
Hong Kong has established a special entity on hillslope management which channels information pertaining to hillslopes in the territory.
The agency also disseminated landslide warning messages, personal safety measures and emergency services and set essential guides and information on slope maintenance and slope improvement works.
Najib also said that there were enforcement weaknesses, especially on the part of the local authorities to inform the people of the risk of landslides.
There had been minor soil movements in the area, the signs indicative of a landslide, he said.
“Based on satellite images, there had been landslips near the building, with the earth displaced equivalent to 30 lorry loads, besides tilting trees and cracks on the building,” he said.
It had been reported that extraordinary heavy rain over three days weakened the soil structure and led to the landslide which hit the orphanage.
A briefing by Public Works Department Hillslope Engineering Senior Director Datuk Ashaari Mohamad yesterday revealed that the area received 29mm of rainfall on Thursday, 41mm on Friday and 80mm on Saturday, the day of the landslide.
Also present during Najib’s visit to the site were Puan Sri Norainee Abdul Rahman, wife of the deputy prime minister, Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Noh Omar and Works Minister Datuk Seri Shaziman Mansor.
Source : Bernama