Monday, May 17, 2021

Govt urged to save 120-year-old KL school

Urban planning expert Derek Fernandez suggests that Convent Bukit Nanas be made a national heritage site in order to ensure its survival.

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An urban planning expert has urged Putrajaya to intervene in the Convent Bukit Nanas issue ahead of a hearing for the school’s judicial review application to challenge the government’s decision not to extend its land lease beyond the Sept 6 expiry date this year.

Derek Fernandez also suggested that the all-girls school in Kuala Lumpur, established in 1899, be listed as a national heritage site under the National Heritage Act 2005.

“From a planning perspective, the school is zoned under the KL City Plan 2020 within the development plan under the Federal Territory Planning Act 1982 as a public facility and a heritage zone,” he said, adding that it had provided an education for tens of thousands of women in the country.

The Kuala Lumpur High Court is scheduled to hear the school’s judicial review application on the matter today.

Fernandez said the protection of urban schools and public facilities was critical to justify the high development plot ratios being given in the city, in order to boost the development of a strong residential community in the city centre.

He said this was necessary to support the city’s economic activities and to ensure sustainable development.

“Sadly, many city schools are often the target of ‘predatory vultures’ who view this as a cheap source of land for high intensity development, leading to many such plots of land being developed with no good supporting infrastructure for education in the nearby vicinity.”

In a statement, he urged the government to immediately intervene and extend the lease for Convent Bukit Nanas, said to be one of the oldest schools in the country.

“It has now become popular for all sides of the political divide to ‘champion’ women’s rights in society as it creates good voter optics.

“However, it remains to be seen how many leaders will actually rise to the occasion when it matters the most, and protect Convent Bukit Nanas and get the lease extended for an institution that has protected and enhanced women’s basic rights to education for more than 120 years.”

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