BB Plaza tenants to seek PM’s help over MRT works
KUALA LUMPUR, June 23 — Unhappy with the lack of response from the authorities over their fate in the My Rapid Transit (MRT) masterplan, Bukit Bintang Plaza (BB Plaza) tenants have decided to take their fight to the highest authority — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
Their leader, Hassan Saad, told The Malaysian Insider that since the tenants staged their maiden protest on Tuesday, the authorities have only issued statements through the media, instead of consulting with them directly.
“All we want is to be involved in the process. But we are still left out in the dark until today,” he said after some 80 tenants convened their first meeting official meeting yesterday on the matter.
The meeting, held from 3pm to 5.30pm at Capitol Hotel beside BB Plaza, also saw the formation of the Bukit Bintang Plaza Traders’ Association (BBPTA) with 12 appointed to a committee and a projected membership of about 120 traders.
Hassan, who was elected as chairman, said the committee decided today against threatening to hold more protests and to push for roundtable discussions instead.
“We will be sending our memorandum to the Prime Minister himself next Wednesday, June 27, most probably in Parliament.
“We want the PM to help us in this,” he said, expressing the group’s disappointment that neither BB Plaza owner UDA Holdings Bhd nor MRT project owner MRT Corporation have invited them in for discussions.
Hassan said BBPTA would also issue a letter to UDA Holdings seeking a dialogue session and urge the company to invite MRT Corp along for the talks.
“We will not picket again. This will be our solution instead,” he said.
Hassan said the group would reserve its comments on other matters, including The Malaysian Insider’s report yesterday quoting MRT Corp as saying that there would be no need for the eviction of all BB Plaza’s traders.
“For now, we will raise the same matter — that we want to be part of the discussions. As far as we know, even UDA had issued a statement but it was through the media. We are not happy with that,” he said.
Some 50 traders had staged a protest outside the iconic 1970’s-built BB Plaza on Tuesday, demanding the authorities keep them informed on developments in the government’s plans to construct the Klang Valley MRT, Malaysia’s first mass rapid transit system that is meant to increase urban connectivity.
They had expressed worry over the fate of their businesses in the plaza, pointing to reports that they would likely have to be evicted soon to make way for the multibillion ringgit rail project.
Notices have also been sent out to traders operating on the sidewalk outside the mall entrance, demanding that they clear out of the premises by month-end. Preparatory works for theh MRT are expected to kick off at the mall entrance by July 2.
Several options have been toyed with in the media and among the authorities, including the option of selling BBP to tycoon Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary or to MRT Corp, which has said it is not interested.
MRT Corp had earlier also suggested that UDA Holdings redevelop the building, which its chairman Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed has said would likely be too costly for the agency to bear.
BB Plaza houses a majority of Malay businesses while Chinese businessmen run their companies in the adjoining Sungei Wang Plaza and nearby shophouses.