Residents slam Penang for high-rise projects

Dr-Leong-Yueh-Kwong

GEORGE TOWN: The state government has been urged by Paya Terubong residents to cancel high-rise high-density projects in the area as they will bring more harm than good to the people.

Residents of Paya Terubong especially in Taman Seri Rambai and several civil society groups including the Penang Forum and residents’ associations said several projects had been approved despite being built on a steep gradient.

They questioned the city council’s approval of three 47-storey blocks and one 41-storey block of apartments.

Malaysia Nature Society representative Dr Leong Yueh Kwong expressed fears of a collapse as with Highland Towers in Ampang, Selangor in the 1980s, that killed 48 people.

“We do not want this to happen here, as lives are at stake. No matter what the reports say that it is safe, no impact on the people, it is not true. The people are experiencing nightmares every day,” he said at a press conference here today.

Leong also criticised the state government for not gazetting the updated Penang Island Local Plan that will be used to conduct proper planning in the state.

“Our state does not have proper planning because we do not have the most crucial part which is the local plan,” he said.

Penang Forum representative Kam Suan Pheng said Paya Terubong was one of many locations where many high-rise, high-density projects had been approved by the council despite 40 per cent of the land being Class 3 and Class 4 with slope gradients exceeding 25 per cent.

“Unfortunately, some of the 56 approved developments that were approved on legally protected hills above the 250ft or 25-degree slope gradient are located here in Paya Terubong,” said Kam.

She stressed that the state government must not categorise hill slope developments especially ordinary residential areas and commercial buildings as special projects.

“Special projects must be limited, restricted and only be done if it involves public interest,” she said.

In July 2015, the state government allowed the conversion of land in Bukit Kukus from a low-density zone to a high-density zone for four blocks of housing developments.

Despite the disagreement of residents because of mudslides caused by the project, as well as flooding, illegal rock blasting, as well as the issuance of stop-work orders, the Penang Island City Council went ahead to grant the developer the green light.

Not only had the residents to worry about the grave danger they faced from such developments, they were also worried about the number of illegal construction workers in the area.

The residents’ group said four houses had been burgled over two consecutive nights last month with the children in the houses tied up and the victims suffering losses of more than RM100,000.

“People live in fear as the area is no longer safe due to all these projects. People do not know who lives in the neighbourhood any more as there are too many foreigners.

“Not only that, the roads and alleys are dark and cars cannot pass through as the distance between one building to the other is too near, as close as 10 ft apart. I hope the state government can fix the legal loophole in such developments as we are the ones paying the price,” said Tee Lian Goh, a representative of the Taman Seri Rambai Residents’ Association.

Also present during the press conference were Bukit Gelugor assemblyman Ramkarpal Singh and Paya Terubong assemblyman Yeoh Soon Hin.

Ramkarpal said he had visited the site three months ago and would cooperate with residents to push their concerns to the relevant authorities.

“We will help them get legal help and convey their concerns to the local council,” he said.