Penang ‘given a chance’ to meet reclamation rules

The Penang state government proposes to create three artificial islands off the southern coast of Penang Island.

GEORGE TOWN: The ministry of environment and water will give the Penang state government a chance to fulfil all 72 requirements needed to implement the Penang South Reclamation project despite objections from several quarters.

Deputy Environment and Water Minister Ahmad Masrizal Muhammad said the Penang state government must comply with all the conditions and stipulations set out in the Environmental Impact Assessment report before it could proceed with the project.

“Let us give a chance to the state (government) to fulfill all the requirements first and see how it goes. As long as it is able to meet the requirements, there is nothing for the state (government) to be afraid of. That should be the way,” he said today.

“We have to be fair to all parties, to whichever state government, as this is a democratic state,” he said.

The project has met objections from civil society and environmental groups, as well as the fishing communities. The latest objection was from Penang PAS who recently handed over a memorandum to environment minister Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man, who is PAS deputy president.

“For PAS, there is nothing wrong with the party submitting a memorandum of protest following their concern for the people and the environment, this will also create a form of check and balance,” Ahmad Masrizal said.

Penang PAS urged the ministry to cancel the project over concerns of permanent environmental damage as well as its effects on the livelihood of fishermen in Penang and Perak.

Ahmad Masrizal said the ministry was also open to holding discussions between PAS and the Penang state government to clarify the issues and procedures surrounding the project.

“As I said, the ministry is trying to give the Penang state government space and opportunity to meet all of the conditions set out previously, and then we shall see if they have complied with it before taking further action,” he said.

He added that the controversy over the reclamation project for the construction of three artificial islands in southern Penang was not new.

“The only aspect in which the ministry was involved directly in the project was in the context of approving the EIA report. However, there may be some confusion. When we talk about the approval, it should be seen in the context of also fulfilling all 72 requirements,” he said.

The 17-square kilometre PSR project involves the development of three artificial islands of about 1,700-acres at waters off Permatang Damar Laut, near Bayan Lepas.

It is being developed to finance various infrastructure projects under the Penang Transport Master Plan worth RM46 billion.

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