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Groups disappointed with start of Penang reclamation project

The Consumers Association of Penang and Sahabat Alam Malaysia appeal to the federal and state governments, citing the effect that the project might have on the fishing community.

Staff Writers
2 minute read
An aerial view of the Penang South Island project off Gurney Drive in Penang.
An aerial view of the Penang South Island project off Gurney Drive in Penang.

The Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) and Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) have repeated their call for a halt to the Penang South Island (PSI) project, preliminary work on which reportedly began today. 

In a statement, the groups appealed to both Putrajaya and the Penang government not to proceed with the reclamation project, citing the effect that it might have on the local fishing community. 

"The legal issues aside, we are appalled that the Madani government is hell-bent on proceeding with the project despite the concerns and objections raised by fishermen including PEN Mutiara, the official fishermen's association, and Persatuan Nelayan Kawasan Selatan Pulau Pinang and all the units of the fishermen villages here," they said.

"The Madani government has professed to act in the interest of ensuring social justice, but ignoring the strenuous objections from the official fishermen's association goes in the wrong direction of good governance and a caring government.

"Please listen to the voices of those who represent the genuine interests of the fisherfolk and not give in to the lobby of private interests who put profits over people, and halt the commencement of works immediately."

Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said in May that the PSI project would continue with the construction of just one of the three artificial islands planned in the waters off Permatang Damar Laut, near Bayan Lepas – a scaledown of some 49%.

"Silicon Island (Island A), covering ​​2,300 acres, will be implemented in two phases within 10 to 15 years for reclamation work, while reclamation work for Island B, covering ​​1,400 acres and Island C (800 acres) will not proceed," he said on May 11.

But CAP and SAM said the move to reduce the project scope had not allayed their concerns or those of the fishing community.

"This project is simply not needed as we have argued time and again that land on the mainland is more than sufficient for any expansion of economic activities," they said.

They also questioned the start of preliminary work on Silicon Island which Chow said had begun today, asking if the state government had obtained planning permission to commence with the project under the Town and Country Planning Act 1976.

"This is a legal requirement which needs to be followed," they added. 

Adding that the fishermen had challenged the green light for the project's environmental impact assessment report, they said no hearing date had yet been fixed. 

"Destroying a vital ecosystem that is bio-diverse and which cannot be replaced is simply unjustifiable and does not make any sense," they said.  

"We once again appeal to the federal government and the prime minister in particular, and the state government not to exacerbate the environmental and social injustice by proceeding with the reclamation project."

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