GEORGE TOWN: The Penang government’s insistence on pursuing Silicon Island will affect the local fishermen’s chances of mounting a challenge to the reclamation project, Parti Rakyat Malaysia (PRM) said.
Penang PRM vice-chairman Ravinder Singh said work on the RM8.5 billion Penang South Island project started last week, and the fishermen’s appeal could possibly be turned down by the department of environment’s (DoE) appeals board as being “academic” due to the ongoing construction.
In 2021, the fishermen’s appeal was granted by DoE and the reclamation project was put off. However, the state government applied to restart work and was given the green light earlier this year.
Ravinder said with the state government claiming to have started work on Sept 1, the second attempt at an appeal could have no effect.
“Thus, it is high-handed and wrong of a government which brags about accountability to try and force the hand of the DoE,” he alleged in a statement.
He wondered if this was in contempt of the legal process.
On Sept 1, Penang obtained final technical approval for the 930ha artificial island set to be built in the waters south of the Penang International Airport runway.
In an immediate reply to Ravinder’s comment, executive councillor Zairil Khir Johari said the state had followed the letter of the law and was transparent throughout the process.
He said that despite the initial setbacks, the state government had respected due process and updated the public every step of the way.
“If we are in contravention of any law, we would not have obtained approvals from the various government agencies, both federal and state.
“This project is for the future economic wellbeing of Penang. Some parties only know how to oppose without offering alternative visions for the livelihood of the people,” he said.