Penang fishermen claim duped into receiving compensation

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GEORGE TOWN: The DAP-led Penang government has been accused of using tricks to deceive fishermen into receiving compensation for the Seri Tanjung Pinang Phase II (STP2) development project.

A Tanjung Tokong fisherman, Mohd Shariff Abdul, 57, said fishermen in Tanjung Bungah, Tanjung Tokong, Paramount Unit and Persiaran Gurney were disappointed with an invitation to attend a ceremony two weeks before Adilfitri in 2015 which was said to be “saguhati (consolation) payment” when it was actually a compensation payment.

“Who does not want to be given money two weeks before Hari Raya. We thought it was a consolation payment from the developer of the STP2 project,” he said at a press conference organised by Barisan Nasional (BN) here yesterday.

He said, however, based on a letter from the State Economic Planning Unit (Upen) to the executive director of Tanjung Pinang Development Sdn Bhd on Oct 5, 2016, it was compensation payment.

Paramount Unit fisherman S Selvaraju, 60, said the STP2 project which began last year had affected the livelihoods of fishermen in the area due to land reclamation activities, causing a lot of destruction to marine sites.

He said previously, he was able to earn over RM2,000 a month from catching fish, shellfish and crab, but now due to reclamation activities near the area, his income had decreased.

“Now my income is only RM1,000 a month and I am very disappointed with the action of the state government which has failed to help the fishermen in the area badly affected by the STP2 project,” he said.

Penang BN committee member Shaik Hussein Mydin called on the state government to address the problem as proposed in the environmental impact assessment (EIA) report which stipulates a method of compensation.

Meanwhile, in an immediate response, Eastern & Oriental Bhd Development and Construction Management general manager Zawawi Yusop said the group had been having ongoing discussions with the fishermen community within the project vicinity.

He said last year, the company approved an allocation to build a breakwater, jetty, boat moorings and a tool shed as suggested by the Department of Fisheries.

“Upon receiving further demand letters, we also assisted to arrange for several meetings between the fishermen committee and the relevant authorities to address their concerns.

“After several rounds of discussions, we are waiting for confirmation on the various designs of those facilities that should be collectively agreed on by the fishermen before a decision is made to start construction work,” he said.