Anwar takes Penang fishermen’s complaints to Dr M

PKR president Anwar Ibrahim says the reclamation of the three islands would have a big impact on environmental sustainability and the livelihood of fishermen. (Facebook pic)

GEORGE TOWN: PKR president Anwar Ibrahim said he raised the issue of fishermen protesting against the three-islands reclamation project in Penang during a meeting with the prime minister today.

Taking to Facebook, Anwar said the reclamation of the three islands would have a big impact on environmental sustainability and the livelihood of the fishermen.

He said he had also passed the message to Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad to meet those affected by the reclamation project.

Anwar said besides the reclamation project, he raised a “few problems” involving low and middle-level contractors. He did not elaborate further.

The Penang government plans to reclaim three islands in the waters off its southern coast to finance its RM46 billion Penang Transport Master Plan, which will see roads and LRT being built.

Fishermen have raised concerns over the loss of fishing grounds where the islands would be reclaimed. Those affected protested outside the Parliament yesterday, calling for the project to be cancelled.

Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the wellbeing of the fishermen would be taken care of and the state government is actively engaged with the fishermen’s group, forming a special task force to talk about compensation.

The proposed three reclaimed islands, formally known as Penang South Reclamation, cover nearly 17 sq km, with islands 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 bidder to finance the RM46 billion Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP).

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

The PTMP will be carried out 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.

In an event in Kuala Lumpur later today, Anwar mentioned the project affecting fishermen once more.

“We should consider if this is economically viable. This is being led, to a large extent, by the private sector.

“You must not allow for the feeling of neglect or marginalisation of some segment of the population, like the fishing villages.

“How do we deal with it? We need agencies and political leaders to continue to engage,” he said at Sogo’s 25th Charity and Business Partners’ Appreciation Nite 2019 at Shangri-La hotel Kuala Lumpur.

He said this was not something leaders could just settle by giving compensation.

“You are talking about the entire livelihood and future of these people,” he said.