The Penang state government has fought off allegations by PKR’s Nurul Izzah Anwar that its reclamation project known as the Penang South Islands (PSI) will burden the people in the state, saying it is in fact more needed now to revive the economy following the impact of the Covid-19 crisis.
Penang exco for infrastructure and transport Zairil Khir Johari also shot back at the Permatang Pauh MP for saying the project would not benefit Penangites.
“Unlike Nurul Izzah, I grew up in Penang, I now work in Penang and I plan to one day retire in Penang.
“As such, I for one certainly want Penang to be able to provide great opportunities not only for me and my contemporaries, but more importantly for our children and their children to come,” Zairil, DAP’s Tanjong Bunga assemblyman, said in response to Nurul Izzah’s call to halt the PSI.
Yesterday, Nurul Izzah, the eldest daughter of Pakatan Harapan chairman Anwar Ibrahim, said the PSI, meant to finance the controversial mega project Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP), should be cancelled as it was not financially viable with lingering concerns over its impact on the environment.
She said the reclamation of land would destroy the livelihoods of fishermen and increase poverty.
“As such I have no choice but to voice this objection publicly in the hope that the reclamation project is terminated and replaced with a truly sustainable economic rejuvenation plan – more in line with the need to build back better and greener in a globally recovering post-pandemic world,” she wrote on her blog yesterday.
Zairil said the allegations were not true, adding that the prolonged pandemic showed the PSI was needed “now more than ever”.
He said the project would attract RM70 billion in foreign direct investment and create over 300,000 jobs in the next 30 years.
He also dismissed concerns over the environment, saying the project had taken into account such matters.
“Rest assured, the three islands are designed to have plenty of public green spaces, with 20% of the land reserved for parks, mangroves, water canals, and wetlands to achieve temperature,” he said.
Zairil said fishermen would also stand to benefit from the project, as besides receiving ex-gratia payments, full-time fishermen would be sent for a “re-skilling programme” in order to be employed during the course of the project.
“With this extra employment, they will have more stable income and financial security through EPF contributions which they currently don’t enjoy,” he said.