GEORGE TOWN: About 100 residents at a fishing village in Tanjung Tokong are demanding answers from the state government over plans to demolish several structures in their village.
They were told by the supervisor of an international school project nearby during a recent meeting that 12 structures in the village had to be demolished.
At a press conference organised by Persatuan Penduduk Kampung Warisan Tanjung Tokong today, the association’s deputy secretary Waifuddin Hamdan said these included the houses of two fishermen, fish ponds, a surau, as well as two houses used as homestays and huts.
The villagers had been staying in the village for nearly 20 years.
“Our ancestors were forced to move here when reclamation work began in Tanjung Tokong in late 2005.”
Waifuddin said the villagers had applied three times for temporary occupation licences (TOL) from 2012 until 2020 to use the government land but received no response.
He said the state government should clarify the status of the village and whether the construction of the international school could justify the plan to demolish the houses in the village.
“Will the government recognise this oldest fishing village in Penang?”
He asked Tanjung Bungah assemblyman Zairil Khir Johari to intervene, claiming he had not visited the village and had only sent his officers.
“We have fishermen who have made this village a tourism hub, with homestays for visitors.
“Some fishermen use their boats to take tourists out to sea as well,” said Syahifah Hawa Zamzuri, the association’s secretary.
Fishermen interviewed hoped they would not be forced to move and live in low-cost apartments.
Waifuddin said they would not have enough space to keep fishing equipment like traps, fishing nets and boat engines.
Kamaruddin Othman, 70, has built a shed next to his house to keep his fishing equipment.
His two sons, Hafizi Kamaruddin and Nizam Kamaruddin, help him with his three fishing boats.
He has been fishing for 60 years and his customers include nearby restaurants.
“Back then, we could get 70-80kg of seafood every day. Now, we are struggling to get even 3kg of seafood.”
He blamed it on the reclamation work done at Gurney Drive, about 4km away.
Zairil, when contacted, said that according to the terms of the agreement between the state government and the international school in 2017, all 78 structures on the beach reserve would have to be cleared, but he had negotiated with them to only demolish 12.
“Out of these 12, only two are houses and the owners will be compensated with low-medium cost houses.
“If you look at the structures, most of them are commercial units like homestays. These were built on state land and they have not paid anything to the state.
“Their TOL applications come within the purview of the state land committee. We must also remember that this is a beach reserve and meant for public use,” he told FMT.
He said the school had requested that the beach be cleared for school activities.