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End the Samy Vellu farce and get the Cabinet out of the way emulate South Korean and Singapore examples to establish independent inquiries into construction disasters and prosecute defaulting parties regardless of cronies or proxies

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Media Statement (3)       
by Lim Kit Siang  
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(Parliament, Friday) : Yesterday was the opening of the RM290 million largest court complex in the world in Jalan Duta, Kuala Lumpur marked by more mishaps, after the ceiling collapse in the secretarial room of Civil High Court judge Datuk Abdul Malik on Monday. 

Firstly, cracks measuring more than three metres appeared on the fourth floor corridors opposite Magistrate Four. 

Then one of the lifts broke down, trapping eight passengers for about half an hour. 

Car parking is going to be a nightmare for lawyers and the justice-seeking  public who have to go to the Jalan Duta Court Complex, which would house 77 courts comprising 26 magistrate's courts, 21 Sessions Courts and 30 High Courts. The RM290 million Court Complex in Jalan Duta is clearly most unfriendly to the justice-seeking public. 

Works Minister Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu has said that his Ministry will assemble a team of experts to investigate the faults at the court complex in Jalan Duta, the Immigration Headquarters building in Putrajaya and the Entrepreneur and Co-operative Development Ministry building, also in Putrajaya. 

He said the team would deliver a preliminary report on Monday for him to present to the Prime Minister at the cabinet meeting on Wednesday where further details, including repair costs, would be discussed. 

I say: End the Samy Vellu farce and get Cabinet out of the way emulate South Korean and Singapore examples to establish independent inquiries into construction disasters and prosecute defaulting parties regardless of cronies or proxies! 

In the Sampoong Department store collapse in Seoul, South Korea in June 29, 1995 as a result of structural failure, causing 501 deaths with 937 injured, the chairman of the building was charged for negligence and received a prison sentence of ten and a half years. His son, the store's president, executives of the store and the construction company, were also jailed. Several city officials who were bribed to close an eye on the sub-standard construction were also imprisoned.

In the Nicoll Highway collapse in Singapore in April 2004, the collapse of a tunnel being constructed for use by MRT trains killed four people and injured three.  

A committee of inquiry found main contractor Nishimatsu Construction Company and its officers as well as Land Transport Authority officers responsible for the collapse. Several other officers and subcontractors were reprimanded and issued warnings in connection with the accident. 

Four men are facing criminal charges in the wake of the Nicoll Highway collapse, including the former project director of the Circle MRT Line, who had monitored the excavation and design work in his other capacity as the Qualified Person on the site.  

I believe that if the same stringent standards are followed in Malaysia, learning from the lessons of South Korea and Singapore, collapse of public buildings will become a rare event instead of becoming a weekly scandal in the past month.

(4/5/2007)  


* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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