The government announced it will be allocating RM150 million in federal funds to develop Tugu Park or Taman Tugu. Another RM500 million will be contributed by Khazanah Nasional Bhd, a government investment arm.
To carry out this project, the government handed over the tract of land that is Tugu Park, valued initially at RM1.2 billion — and now revised to RM2.1 billion.
First and foremost, let’s look at the logic against Tugu Park. First, it isn’t the right time because we are in dire straits. We are not, or at least those involved in this project are not.
Khazanah in its annual performance review for 2015 showed a profit before tax of RM1.18 billion. It has a net worth of RM109 billion. It’s a solid government-linked corporation.
As for the government, I understand that there is anger over multiple issues such as the removal of scholarships, cancellation of hospitals, shrinking the budget for education and even healthcare.
In fact, this was brought up in the public consultation session on Sept 9, 2016, and I’m sure will be brought up continuously by the public.
And personally, I am pissed at these as well. And I’m sure Khazanah is getting flak even though it pays taxes to the government from its various entities and even go further through its Hassanah Foundation.
But why would I blame the government investment arm which has allocated some RM96 million through its foundation to assist in education ventures such as Teach For Malaysia?
Plus, do we really want another privatised healthcare centre? Do you think Johoreans should go up to Kumpulan Perubatan Johor (KPJ) and tell them to give free healthcare at all their centres for their citizens?
The government and Khazanah are embarking on a plan to improve an area less than 15 minutes away from Parliament for public access from all areas with public transport links and even better facilities on top of bolstering a green lung in Kuala Lumpur.
I have concerns when it comes to the Malaysian mindset regarding maintenance. Through their presentation, the operations and maintenance allocation is RM8.15 million until 2026 — 15 per cent of the RM650 million.
I am unsure if this will be enough, even adding on the revenues generated from the park itself through its various soon-to-have facilities. While Khazanah assures that it will manage to issue out such funds, I wouldn’t think it fair for it to do so in perpetuity.
However, my major concern regarding this park is Khazanah’s promise of public access — particularly when it is working with the Ministry of Federal Territories and even Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL). Both of these have a history of treating public property as their own — just look at Dataran Merdeka and the Mayor constantly barring people from entering it.
Regarding this matter, Khazanah is looking at how it can be placed in a trust — meaning it won’t belong to DBKL, or the Federal Territory, or even Khazanah for that matter. It’s a good idea, similar to how foreign nations handle their parks, but it has never been done in Malaysia.
I’ll take Khazanah’s Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar’s word for it.
If Khazanah does manage to return the park to the public for total access through a public trust with proper trustees, then more power to them. It would also set precedence for us to even take back Dataran Merdeka.
Parks are not just recreational, they are also a refuge. New York’s Central Park historically became a camping ground for the homeless during times of recession. Hyde Park in London is a historical gathering point for protests and even has a speaker’s corner to allow everyone to exercise their freedom of speech.
In other words, should this be successful, it’ll be the first time Malaysians were given back their public space to practise their constitutional freedom of speech.