No federal approval yet for Penang reclamation, says minister

Penang’s 1,500 coastal fishermen say the reclamation project will rob them of their fishing grounds and livelihood.

GEORGE TOWN: The federal government has not made any decision on a proposal reclamation project to create three man-made islands off Penang island, according to Agriculture and Agro-Based Industries Minister Salahuddin Ayub.

He told reporters here that the federal government was still waiting for reports and feedback on the Penang state government’s proposal.

He said the proposal was brought before the National Physical Planning Council meeting less than two months ago which he had attended.

‘’The meeting was chaired by Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and we are awaiting reports from all the related quarters, then only will the government decide. We have heard the views of all quarters who were given the opportunity to table their reports in the meeting.”

He said the interests of the fishermen and all quarters would be taken into account by the government before any decision was made.

Salahuddin was here to open the annual meeting of the Penang Fishermen’s Association. The association has appealed to the government to reconsider the reclamation project by taking into account the major impact on the fishermen.

The NPPC had previously set 18 conditions on the project which the state government must comply with.

The reclamation of the three islands covers 1,800 hectares, and is part of the RM46 billion Penang Transport Master Plan, which calls for the construction of several highways and an LRT line.

Fishermen have protested against the loss of their rich fishing grounds off the south coast. More than 1,500 coastal fishermen make their living from the sea in the area.

The association’s chairman, Nazri Ahmad, said that fishermen in Penang were adamant in their stand and protested vehemently against the reclamation project.

“We also don’t know about our fate and the rehabilitation plans following this project. We urge the government to take into account our voice and our welfare before making any decision on the project,’’ he added.