NGO wants to know if Penang Hill hotel project will affect forest reserve

There are concerns over projects taking place on Penang Hill. (Bernama pic)

GEORGE TOWN: An NGO today asked if the permanent forest reserve on the top of Penang Hill will be touched as part of a luxury hotel chain’s takeover of a grand colonial bungalow there.

Citizen Awareness Chant Group (Chant) legal adviser Yan Lee said a source at the Land Office had said part of the Convalescent Bungalow land on Penang Hill was marked as part of a permanent forest reserve.

He said if the permanent forest reserve’s boundaries were moved to accommodate the project, it would mean the state Pakatan Harapan government had reneged on a promise not to touch forest reserves.

“We want to ask if this is being done,” Lee asked at a press conference today.

In the state assembly last November, it was revealed that a six-star hotel chain was about to take over the Convalescent Bungalow and the disused Crag Hotel and turn it into a 250 to 300-room eco-friendly resort.

On another matter, Lee said the cable car project connecting Penang Hill and the Botanic Gardens should be done in a transparent manner.

He said Penang Hill Corporation general manager Cheok Lay Leng must address concerns over the traffic spillover near the gardens and the impact that it would have there.

Citizen Awareness Chant Group legal adviser Yan Lee.

The Penang government had said a pre-feasibility study was being conducted to see if a cable car project could take off to connect Penang Hill and the Botanic Gardens.

The project was mooted to take the load off the funicular railway running at maximum capacity, with a RM100 million boost under the 2020 federal budget.

A total of 1.38 million people went up Penang Hill last year.