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Bukit Dinding
Highest point
Elevation311 m (1,020 ft)
Prominence218 m (715 ft)
Naming
Language of nameMalay
Geography
LocationWangsa Maju, Setiawangsa
StateKuala Lumpur
Parent rangeTitiwangsa Range
Climbing
Easiest routeHike on Tarmac

Bukit Dinding is a forested hill with published height of 291m [1] in Kuala Lumpur sitting in between Setiawangsa and Wangsa Maju. There are variation of heights in different records where according to Google Earth (2022), the height of Bukit Dinding is 302m, [2] but according to Kuala Lumpur Slope Information System (KULSIS), it is 311m.

"Bukit Dinding" [3] in Malay language means "The Wall Hill" - referring to its steep, extreme gradients. The hill also behaves as a "wall" separating 2 suburbs of Wangsa Maju and Setiawangsa. For the locals, this hill is often described as the last remaining green lung between these highly dense suburbs. The hill has close proximity to Highland Tower and Bukit Antarabangsa, which are parts of the main Titiwangsa Range – infamous for their beauty as well as their notorious landslides.

Geology

Bukit Dinding was a hill range encompassing smaller hills including those now known as Bukit Wangsamas, Bukit TM, Bukit Setiawangsa and Bukit Wangsa Kecil before it became the Hawthorden Estate.

The geological formation of Bukit Dinding was mapped as the oldest formation of the Kuala Lumpur area. This formation is called the "Dinding Schist" [4] – is estimated to be 3400m thick, and consists of quartz-mica schist and quartzite with subsidiary actinolite, diopside and epidote schist and schistose conglomerate (Gobbett, 1965). [5] In other words, it means coarse grained metamorphic rock which consists of layers of different minerals and can be split into thin irregular plates – making it unstable.

Ancient Lineaments and Faults existed on the hill range as a watershed to two KL rivers; Sg. Gombak and Sg. Klang. Groundwater used to be captured, stored in these ancient intersection lineaments and then transmitted downhill by linear lineaments to the rivers and faults in the area. The catchment has 2 faults and hot springs near the faults i.e. Setapak hot spring and Wangsa Maju Hot Springs.

In the 1900s, this hill range was converted into partly mining, and a large rubber estate, terraced and irrigated for rubber trees plantation .

Geological academicians recognize the Dinding Schist and the hot springs as geological heritages that are precious and worth preserving.

Biodiversity, Flora and Fauna

The forest consists of both Primary and Secondary vegetation. Being previously part of the Hawthornden Rubber Estate, there are many old rubber trees and their saplings, Acacia, Atrocarpus species (Sukun and Terap), Leucaena species and Alstonia augustifolia (Pulai). [6] The Primary vegetation has yet to be studied and revealed.

The Black Bat Flower is indigenous in Bukit Dinding. It is a species known to be rare in the wild and it cannot be cultivated easily because it can survive only under specific environmental conditions. Black bat flower is listed as endangered plant in many countries.

There are many species of snakes, lizards, civet cats, monkeys and wild boars among the animals that inhabit Bukit Dinding often encroaching the surrounding housing areas.

There are numerous types of bird including the woodpeckers, but mostly these have not been professionally identified.

Activities and attractions

Downhill cycling

Bukit Dinding has become popular among cyclists for its steep drops. The tarmac pathway built for the Telekom Tower is a convenience, enabling shuttled service of bicycles to the peak. At least 5 loops of forest trails have been made by volunteer cycling groups.  

Popular event: Bukit Dinding Downhill (BDDH) Race by Scarfox

On 24–25 February 2018, Bukit Dinding Race 2.0 by Scarfox had attracted over 210 participations from 8 countries including America, France, Singapore and Vietnam.

Within three years, their event participation had increased by twofold.

BDDH 1.0 was held on 25-26 December 2015

BDDH 2.0 was held on 24-25 February 2018 [7]

BDDH 3.0 was held on 2–3 March 2019 [8]

BDDH 4.0 was held on 6–8 March 2020 [9]

BDDH 5.0 is to be held on 4-5 March 2023

Hiking / trail running / jungle trekking

Hikers and trail runners are daily visitors of Bukit Dinding. The number of hikers increased during the Malaysia Movement Control Order (MCO) in 2021. The hill is the only open space getaway and workout opportunity for residents nearby. Using the main trek, every loop would be a good 5KM walk ascending and descending the hill. Those with intentions to train for tougher climb such as Mount Kinabalu, also use Bukit Dinding as their training ground – it is a common benchmark that if one could complete 3 loops of the main trail, he/she has achieved a good level of fitness – ready for their Kinabalu climb.

Popular event: Bukit Dinding Challenge (BDC)

Bukit Dinding Challenge is an annual tournament where participants would compete through 12-hours endurance running from 6.30am - 6.30pm

BDC 1.0: 8 October 2017

BDC 2.0: 3 December 2018

BDC 3.0: 4-5th February 2023

Streams of water

In an interview with Sinar Harian on 20th November 2014, Harun Mohd Amin, president of Pertubuhan Suara Setiawangsa, a local resident association, claimed that until the 1960s, there used to be a waterfall here. It is believed that the waterfall must have been plugged and redirected to drainages. [10]

In recent times, there are multiple small streams of water seen by hikers at all sides of the hill.

History

1870: A Battle Location of the Klang War (1867-1874)

In 1870, the surroundings of Bukit Dinding became the location of one of the battles fought in the Klang War / Selangor Civil War between Raja Abdullah, the administrator of the Klang Valley (led by Tengku Kudin and Yap Ah Loy), and Raja Mahadi, the claimant of that position (led by Syed Mashhor and Chong Chong). The full account of the battle in Bukit Dinding area is quoted here: "Mashhor himself made his way to Chong Chong's camp near Batu Ampat, and suggested an immediate counter-attack, before Ah Loy's men could consolidate their position. Chong Chong agreed with the proposal and that night led a force estimated at about 1,000 men towards Ulu Klang. Mashhor is said to have followed him with an equal force, but advancing by a different route. There is actually only one direct line of approach from Ampang to Ulu Klang, that is up the river valley. It seems probable that Mashhor took this course (he had just retreated along it), while Chong Chong made his way round through the present Gonggang and Hawthornden Estates, to the west of Bukit Dinding. In the meantime Hiu Fatt and Tung Khoon had returned to their improvised camp at Ulu Klang. During the night they were woken by sounds of firearms and shouting, and discovered Mashhor's force in front of their position. They immediately gave orders for a direct attack to be made on the enemy. While it was in progress Chong Chong's men came up from the rear, presumably along the north flank of Bukit Dinding and down the valley of the Sungei Gisir. The Capitan China's men were thus trapped between two larger units of the enemy. Fortunately Ah Loy had decided that evening to re-inforce his troops at Ulu Klang, and had sent Chung Piang out to them with 400 men. These arrived in the middle of the conflict, and presumably in the rear of Chong Chong's encircling force. After a long struggle, in which the Capitans' losses amounted to over 40 killed and 100 wounded, Chong Chong was forced to retreat to his stockade at Ampang, "after sustaining a heavy loss".." [11]

1883: The Gonggang Mines

In 1883, tin mining activities flourished in a place called "Gonggang" located southwest of Bukit Dinding (around Jalan Jelatek - Kampung Datok Keramat - Setiawangsa area today). The mining areas expanded until further upstream of Sungai Bunus (around Wangsa Maju area today). This was conveyed by surveyor Mr. M'Carthy to the Superintendent of Public Works Department, Kuala Lumpur, Mr. H. F. Bellamy, when proposing a continuation of an existing road to connect to the upstream mines. [12] Meanwhile, coffee plantations were being opened on a large scale in the same area, since the 1880s. [13] However up until early 20th century, mining activities continued in the Gonggang area, and along Sungai Klang at the south and east side of Bukit Dinding. [14]

1888 (October): Opening of Hawthornden Estate

In October 1888, an estate in "Ulu Gonggang", located at Batu 5 Jalan Pahang Kuala Lumpur (north of Gonggang mining areas) was opened by J. A. Toynbee, late manager of Weld's Hill Estate under Messrs. Hill and Rathborne. [15] It is possible that this estate expanded to Batu 6 Jalan Pahang, and named "Hawthornden Estate". It later expanded further to the east/southeast, until eventually covering most of Bukit Dinding. [16]

1965 (September): Development of Part of Hawthornden Estate

In 3rd September 1965, the federal government announced plans for a new township in Wardieburn Estate, which includes a small part of Hawthornden Estate. This was most likely in Taman Bunga Raya area today. It was the earliest development in these areas, which did not expand further inland towards Bukit Dinding until the 1980s. [17]

1983: Hawthornden Estate New Township

In 1983, four rubber plantations went through compulsory government acquisition under the then-young Prime Minister, Tun Mahathir. [18] The land acquisition was exercised to tackle the urbanization problem of that era – squatters and insufficient housing for migration of people from the rural area to Kuala Lumpur:

  • Ladang Hawthornden
  • Ladang Gonggang
  • Ladang Kent
  • Ladang Wardieburn.

All four plantations were then reclassified and rezoned as "residential lands" - these parcels of lands are then sold to developers.

The vast plantation area - then converted to suburbs - was named Wangsa Maju, the shortened version of Titiwangsa Maju.

One of the plantations – Hawthornden Rubber Estate Company, owned by famous Loke Yew [19] – included plots of lands of the BUKIT DINDING we know today. All of the estates were rezoned as residential, including this plots of land on the hill.

On 9th December 1983, the Master Plan for a new township covering most of Hawthornden Estate, known as "Projek Pusat Pertumbuhan Bandar Baru Ladang Hawthornden", was approved. Since then, development started in the area later known as Wangsa Maju, starting with Section 1 (low-cost apartments), followed by Sections 2, 3, and 4 (mid-range apartments), and Section 5 (terrace houses, apartments, and condominiums). In that plan, part of Bukit Dinding (marked as "R-12") was already gazetted as "Residential Area". However it was not developed and remained as a forested part of the hill until today. [20]

The incidents of notorious landslides of Highland Tower (1993) and Bukit Antarabangsa (2008) had halted slope developments throughout the country. Nevertheless, it is remained unknown why the land plots zoning for slopes of Bukit Dinding (and many other hills in the country) was never rezoned until today.

1983-1995: From Gonggang Estate to Setiawangsa

On 22nd September 1981, a Penang-based developer company, Island & Peninsular (I&P) Group Sdn Bhd took over the ownership of Gonggang Estate. [21] By May 1983, the company's proposed layout plan for the 102-hectare Gonggang Estate site was approved. The scheme comprised well over 6,000 residential units, about 150 shophouses as well as a modern shopping and commercial centre. Building work and house sales by progress payments were planned for the end of the year 1983. [22] Throughout the years 1983-1995, Gonggang Estate, including the foothill and mid-hill areas in the west and south-west side of Bukit Dinding, were developed in stages, and later known as "Taman Setiawangsa". The final phase of the development was the highest part of the area, named "Puncak Setiawangsa", which was completed in 1995. [23]

Development Plans for Bukit Dinding

2008 (15th May): Draft of Kuala Lumpur City Plan 2020 (KLCP 2020)

Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur (DBKL) displayed the Draft of Kuala Lumpur City Plan 2020 (KLCP 2020). In the proposed "Environmental Protection Zone" and "Zoning" maps in that draft, most of Bukit Dinding was already planned for residential developments. [24]

2012 (28th December): Puncak Setiawangsa Landslide

On Friday, 28th December 2012, around 10pm, a landslide occurred in Puncak Setiawangsa, the south-west tip of Bukit Dinding. It involved failure of an engineered wall built on a 43-metre high slope in 1989-1991. The catastrophic slope failure was triggered by a rainfall that occurred 2 days prior. In the aftermath of the landslide, a residential house located at the top edge of the slope partly collapsed, and one carriageway of the dual carriageway at the bottom of the slope was closed. [25]

The houses and shop lots at the bottom of the slope were unaffected, but inhabitants of 46 of those houses were temporarily relocated for safety concerns. [26]

2014 (September): Development on East Bukit Dinding

The first development project on the eastern side of Bukit Dinding was started by Kerjaya Prospek Property Sdn Bhd around September 2014. Amid opposition from the local residents, the project pressed on and was soft-launched on 12th August 2017, before finally completing in 2020. [27] The aftermath was ongoing flooding from rain and bad drainage system, damaging homes and cars, and wild animals from the hill (especially snakes) escaping into lower homes in affected areas. The affected residents were Kelumpuk Serindit, Keramat AU, and its surroundings. [28]

2017 (12th May): Fissures in Puncak Setiawangsa

The cliff along Jalan 11/55C, Puncak Setiawangsa, Bukit Setiawangsa (the exact same location of the 2012 landslide) appeared to have fissures measuring half-a-metre. [29]

2017 (July): EIA Approval for Projek Wangsa Maju

The Department of Environment approved the Environmental Impact Assessment, EIA Report for "Projek Wangsa Maju", proposed by Nova Pesona Sdn. Bhd., the company which planned to develop a large portion of the west side of Bukit Dinding, marked as "R-12" in Bandar Baru Ladang Hawthornden Master Plan of 1983. The report identifies Bukit Dinding as a sensitive area, and even though the forest and wildlife within were considered "sparse", the project would still cause wildlife encounters particularly among residents in the east side of Bukit Dinding, and would require assistance from Perhilitan to relocate the wildlife to forests such as Ampang Forest Reserve located further to the east. [30]

2018 (30th October): Gazettement of KLCP 2020

Kuala Lumpur City Plan 2020 (KLCP 2020) was finally gazetted on 30th October 2018. However, some of the contents were changed from the previous 2008 draft, without proper engagements with the public. As proposed in the 2008 draft, most of Bukit Dinding was planned for residential development. However, the remaining 70-acre portion of Bukit Dinding previously marked as "Public Open Space" was reduced to 50 acres, and labeled as "Taman Rekreasi Bukit Dinding" in the "Hierarchy Public Parks and Open Space" and "Zoning" maps. [31]

2020 (18th February): Draft of Kuala Lumpur Structure Plan 2040 (PSKL 2040)

In Draft of Kuala Lumpur Structure Plan 2040 (PSKL 2040), the borders of the remaining Bukit Dinding remains unchanged, and labelled as "Neighborhood Park". [32]

Structure Plan & City Plan

Government authorities had approved development of high-rise condominiums and a new township on Bukit Dinding, despite its Environmental Protection Zone (EPZ) status in Kuala Lumpur City Plan 2020. [33] Bukit Dinding is a significant miss-out from the Urban Forest category. Tagged as 'Taman Rekreasi Bukit Dinding' through draft stages of KLCP2020, it is now reduced from 70 acres (KLSP2020 depiction) to 50 acres (KLCP2020 & draft KLSP2040 depiction). Meanwhile reality on the ground is that DBKL has yet to create a public park there throughout the 2000–2020 period – it remains to this day as 'vacant land', with Telekom Malaysia being the only institutional presence on the hill. Despite this lack of attention by DBKL, it has attracted a community of regular users, which grew significantly during the COVID-19 RMCO period.

Opposed Developments of New Residentials

On 28th March 2022, Director of the City Development Department, Zulkurnain Hassan, approved the proposal to build 2 blocks of 26-storey condominiums by Nova Pesona Sdn Bhd, as a continuation to the previous plans, supported by the 2017 EIA report. Local residents believed there were no sufficient notification as required by the law, learning of the development only 6 months later. [34]

On 15 September 2022, a meeting Sesi Komunikasi Strategi Sebelum Pembinaan was called by the developer Nova Pesona Sdn Bhd, attended by 125 persons mostly residents of homes around Bukit Dinding. The developer revealed that DBKL had issued them the Development order dated 28 March 2022, with timelines of earthworks to commence at Q4 2022. The residents had openly opposed to the development stating various concerns; risks of landslide, flood, traffic and compliance concerns.

On 22 September 2022, DBKL warned developer Nova Pesona against starting work on Bukit Dinding despite of their Development Order, until discussion with residents be finalized. [35] DBKL reiterated that no work should be carried out until residents were fully-informed about the development, which had seen huge opposition from residents in the area over safety concerns.

Between 15 and 17 October 2022, four resident associations have lodged police report against the Developer Nova Pesona Sdn Bhd. feeling threatened by the purported development. [36]

During the FoBD Townhall, 5 Candidates of P118 Setiawangsa pledged against the development of Bukit Dinding

On 16 November 2022, during the Townhall event by Friends of Bukit Dinding, five out six election candidates for P118 Setiawangsa showed up, which included incumbent MP Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad (Pakatan Harapan), Nurul Fadzilah Kamaluddin (Perikatan Nasional) and Bibi Sunita Sakandar Khan (Pejuang) have signed the pledge to protect Bukit Dinding. [37]


On 14 December 2022, a judicial review was filed by four residential associations and an NGO against DBKL, for granting the Development Order to the Developer (Nova Pesona Sdn Bhd), to construct 2 blocks of high rise condominiums on part of Bukit Dinding. On 20 July 2023, the High Court granted the plaintiffs the Leave to file the Judicial review against the decision of DBKL and have also granted a Stay Order pending the disposal of this suit.

List of Developers / Land Owners of Plots on Bukit Dinding

1. Developer: Kerjaya Prospek Property Sdn Bhd

  • Affected Residents: Kelumpuk Serindit, Keramat AU and surrounding
  • Status: Kaleidoscope Condominium - completed in year 2020
  • Description: In year 2014, the affected residents had actively protested and objected against the development - but to no avail.
  • Aftermath: Ongoing flooding from rain and bad drainage system. Flood water damaged homes and cars. Wild animals from the hill (especially snakes) escaping into lower homes in affected areas.

2. Developer: Memang Jati Sdn Bhd

  • Affected Residents: Bukit Wangsamas, Seksyen 5 Wangsa Maju, Puncak Setiawangsa
  • Status: Ongoing project (2023)
  • Description: In May 2023, when questioned of EIA fulfilment, the Department of Environment confirmed that they had not been consulted by DBKL of the project. Following the confirmation, a meeting was held between the residents and DBKL, where the residents made an official complaint.

3. Developer: Nova Pesona Sdn Bhd 

  • Land Area: 130 acres
  • To be Affected Residents: Seksyen 5 Wangsa Maju, Fairview International School, Sri Kenangan Condominium and surrounding
  • Status: DBKL Development Order (D.O.) has been obtained on 28 March 2022, but works put on hold. New EIA requirement by the DOE due to outdated data .

4. Developer: Harmony Properties Sdn Bhd

  • Land Area: 33 acres
  • To be Affected Residents: vs Kelumpuk Kenari A, Kelumpuk Kuang C, part of Keramat AU towards Hulu Kelang
  • Status: Unknown

5. Developer: Grene Heights Sdn Bhd

  • Land Area: 56 acres
  • To be Affected Residents: Taman Setiawangsa and surrounding
  • Status: Unknown.

6. Developer: MCL Properties Sdn Bhd

  • Land Area: 5 acres
  • To be Affected Residents: Bukit Wangsamas, Taman Setiawangsa and surrounding
  • Status: Unknown

References

[38]

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  5. ^ "THE PALAEOZOIC SEDIMENTARY ROCKS OF PENINSULAR MALAYSIA - STRATIGRAPHY AND CORRELATION". Workshop on Stratigraphic Correlation of Thailand and Malaysia.
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  7. ^ "Bukit Dinding Race 2.0 by Scarfox results". AGS Holeshot Bicycle. 26 February 2018.
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  22. ^ "Island & Peninsular to buy third piece of land". BUSINESS TIMES. 26 May 1983. p. 12.
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  27. ^ "Cemented by decades of love". Tan Ai Leng @ EdgeProp / The Edge Malaysia. 25 August 2017.
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  29. ^ "Setiawangsa residents fear repeat of 2012 landslide". The Sun Daily. 14 May 2017.
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