Penang Forum has no means to help fisherfolk, says exco man

Fishermen at a protest in Kampung Nelayan, near Teluk Kumbar, Penang, where one of the three islands will be created.

GEORGE TOWN: A state executive councillor from PKR has joined DAP colleagues in criticising the outspoken Penang Forum, asking whether the group has a solution to improve the livelihood of fishermen affected by the state’s development plans.

Dr Afif Bahardin said although the NGO has a right to oppose the Penang South Islands (PSI) project, he does not think it has the “ways and means” to improve the livelihood of the fishermen affected by the reclamation plans.

“Penang Forum can oppose the project, it is their democratic right, but can they find a solution to uplift the livelihood of the fishermen in the area? The government will find a solution that will benefit the community,” he said.

Yesterday, several DAP backbenchers had issued a statement criticising Penang Forum for its statement that Pakatan Harapan does not care for the views of the public because none of its assemblymen had attended an event organised by the group.

At the “Peduli Rakyat” forum on Saturday, 20 NGO representatives gave their views on Penang’s transport plans, reclamation of three islands to the south, the plight of fishermen and other problems facing the state.

The assemblymen, who described Penang Forum as “an unelected entity”, said last-minute invitations to the forum “seem to be more of a publicity stunt in order to trap and tarnish the state government”.

They said the administration had held more engagements with the public on its development plans than any previous state government.

Afif said just because none of the assemblymen attended the event, it did not mean they were not concerned about the welfare of the people.

“It does not mean we don’t listen to their views. We are elected by the people and we work for their interest,” he said.