Reclaimed islands will benefit developers more than people, says group

Sahabat Alam Malaysia members protesting against reclamation projects in the country at the Pantai Jerejak coast.

GEORGE TOWN: An environmental group today rubbished a developer’s vision of Penang rivalling Singapore and Dubai through its three islands reclamation project, saying it will benefit developers more than the people.

Sahabat Alam Malaysia president SM Mohamed Idris said projects on reclaimed land were costly and usually out of reach for most.

He added that it was a waste of time and money reclaiming land, which would also be detrimental to the environment in the long run.

“This is all rubbish talk by developers,” he told reporters at Bayan Lepas here today.

“When you build on reclaimed land, properties will be expensive. And when nobody buys your properties, you lose money and you won’t be able to service your loans.

“The problems are serious and we are going to face big problems. We don’t need to rival Singapore, we can be good ourselves.”

Yesterday, property and infrastructure developer Gamuda envisioned the Penang South Reclamation (PSR) or three islands project south of the island boosting the state’s economy and one day allowing it to rival Singapore’s Marina Bay.

The proposed three islands are to finance the RM4.6 billion Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) which includes rail links, highways and other modes of transport.

Idris said the project was a waste of money as the federal government was already saddled with liabilities reaching RM1 trillion.

He added that it would be “imprudent” for Putrajaya to lend Penang money to kickstart the land reclamation project.

“Getting soft loans, locally or externally, would put us further into debt,” he said.

He also said the PSR would affect fisheries, citing environmental impact studies off the project site showing the wholesale value of fish there estimated at RM42.09 million or 12.4% of the island’s catch in 2015.

“Fish are being wiped out and the fishermen will soon be out of jobs too.

“The chief minister said all projects must stand the ‘test of welfare’ of the people and if they do not, they have to be rethought. We hope he will review the project,” Idris said.