GEORGE TOWN: A local-based non-governmental organisation today highlighted that developers in the state were not afraid of the state government.
Chant Citizen Awareness Group, through its adviser Yan Lee, said the developers were not afraid to conduct illegal land clearing and demolition as the fines imposed on them for the offences was too low.
“Hills have been cut, historical buildings have been demolished illegally, but the company would only pay a small fine under the Street, Drainage and Building Act 1974,” he told reporters here today.
Under Section 70A (1) of the Street, Drainage and Buildings Act 1974, the defaulter will face five years’ imprisonment or a maximum fine of RM50,000, or both.
He said the developers did not fear the law because the local council and the state government could not do anything to prevent them.
Yan Lee cited several events of illegal hill clearing, such as on Bukit Kukus in Paya Terubong and the latest one in Teluk Bahang to build a Shaolin martial arts temple, international school, college, four-star hotel and 2,100 residential units.
“In the previous state assembly sitting, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng had announced that there would be drones to monitor hill slopes to prevent illegal hill clearing. What is the status of that now?”
Besides the Street, Drainage and Buildings Act 1974, another law that could be used was under Section 19 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1976, which carries a maximum penalty of RM500,000 and/or imprisonment of not more than two years upon conviction.
He said until now, no offenders had been sent to jail for environmental offences or illegal demolitions.
The group adviser had also submitted a letter to the Penang Institute, which is the state’s think-tank group, to seek its guidance to help the Penang Government tackle illegal land-clearing problems.
“This problem is getting worse and I hope the institute will help protect Penang from illegal land clearing and demolition in future.”