Fishermen want compensation in kind, not cash, over 3-islands project

Penang CM Chow Kon Yeow (in red tie) talking to reporters at SMJK Chung Ling, Air Itam, today.

GEORGE TOWN: The Penang government today said fresh talks with fishermen affected by its three-islands project will begin soon.

This follows the green light given to carry out reclamation work by environmental regulators recently.

Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the new talks were part of an earlier plan to meet the fishermen to hear their proposals again after obtaining the necessary federal approvals.

He said this after being asked about a group of 200 Penang and Perak fishermen who are planning to picket outside Parliament in Kuala Lumpur tomorrow to call for the reclamation to be cancelled. Joining them will be several Penang-based NGOs.

Chow said the fresh talks would delve into what the Penang fishermen want but did not detail what the fishermen’s requests were. It is believed that their demands may not be monetary in nature but in kind.

Chow said what the fishermen were asking for was more than what was paid out to fishermen affected by the construction of the second Penang bridge and the Seri Tanjung Pinang reclamation project previously.

He said the Fisheries Development Authority of Malaysia’s (LKIM) official register of fishermen would be used in determining who had the right to receive compensation.

“The fishermen had given us a compensation proposal in May. They also wanted us to abide by the necessary government approvals before starting the project.

“Now that the approval has been granted, the compensation approval can be looked into.

“State executive councillor Dr Afif Bahardin will be heading a task force to speak to the fishermen’s representatives soon,” he said.

Fulfilling 72 conditions for reclamation

Separately, Chow said the 72 conditions imposed by the Department of Environment (DoE) in approving the three-islands project would be revealed after the state government had deliberated on the matter.

He reiterated that complying with the conditions might incur “additional costs”.

As for the proposed sand mining from the coast of Perak to be used to reclaim the three islands, Chow said a separate Environmental Impact Assessment report was required for that. He did not elaborate.

Earlier, he opened SMJK Chung Ling’s International United Nations Camp, which saw schools from China, Thailand and Malaysia participating.

The proposed project to reclaim three islands, formally known as Penang South Reclamation, covers nearly 17 sq km, with islands with an area of 9.3, 4.45, and 3.23 sq km to be reclaimed off the coast of Permatang Damar Laut, near Bayan Lepas.

The reclaimed land will belong to the Penang government but will be auctioned off to the highest bidders to finance the RM46 billion Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP).

The PTMP envisions a series of highways, light rail transit lines and other modes of transport to be built over the next 20 to 30 years.

The PTMP will be pursued by SRS Consortium Sdn Bhd, a joint venture between Gamuda Bhd and Penang real estate development firms Loh Phoy Yen Holdings Sdn Bhd and Ideal Property Development Sdn Bhd.