Penang govt urged to scrap reclamation project

Penang Fishermen’s Association chairman Nazri Ahmad (centre) during a previous protest against the reclamation work. (File pic)

GEORGE TOWN: Penang fishermen today continued to object to the reclamation activities at the southern part of the island and have demanded that the Pakatan Harapan-led government scrap the project.

Penang Fishermen’s Association chairman Nazri Ahmad was referring to the Penang South Reclamation (PSR) project, which will see the creation of three islands south of the island to finance the RM27 billion Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP).

Under the plan, highways, a light-rail transit line and a monorail line will be built by the state government with the help of project delivery partner SRS Consortium.

Nazri said the fishermen had also previously opposed Barisan Nasional’s Seri Tanjung Pinang (STP) reclamation project as it had a negative impact on their livelihood.

“We are sorry if we had made mistakes last time. It was not our intention. Our intention is to just fight for our rights,” he said in his speech at the association’s 33rd annual general meeting in Batu Maung, earlier today.

Nazri pointed out that in actual fact, they did not oppose the development as the project has already been approved.

“What we are objecting to is how the problems faced by the fishermen affected by the project are being addressed. For instance, only some of the fishermen have received compensation over the loss of livelihood.

“Fishermen in Butterworth, Bagan Ajam and Teluk Ayer Tawar, as well as several areas in Kedah, have yet to receive a single sen in compensation over the development of a highway that was built (during the past BN administration),” he said.

State Agriculture and Agro-based Industries committee chairman Dr Afif Bahardin, who had earlier opened the meeting, said there were ongoing discussions between the state government, together with SRS Consortium, and various stakeholders.

“For now, a few dialogues have been organised, engagements carried out, but at the state level we are still discussing how to move forward with this matter,” he said in a press conference.

The Seberang Jaya assemblyman said the PSR was still being studied, and that the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report was subject to approval by the Federal government.

“It is not as simple as saying that, since both state and federal governments are now led by Pakatan Harapan, then everything is stamped and done. We still need to follow the guidelines and the rules laid out.

“In Penang, we are going to do things correctly, according to the law and the principles of transparency and accountability,” he said.

Afif claimed that some of the experts who had seen the preparation of the EIA report had given feedback that “this is the best report produced compared to other EIA reports in other states”.

“Before this, there had been a lot of debate in the media, but these were more focused on sentiments and emotions, to the point there was no constructive discussion.

“So now, with the media being able to report better and more openly, let us get the facts right. I sit in the exco meetings, and I have seen the report.

“The amount of effort put in, the details and the facts included in the report are very good. Whether it is adequate or not, whether it is according to the guidelines, it is up to the ministry to decide,” he added.

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