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NGO not backing down in protest against luxury project


GEORGE TOWN: CONSTRUCTION has started on the 27-storey luxury project in Jalan Moulmein here, but a non-governmental organisation against the development is not throwing in the towel yet.

The NGO, the Citizens Awareness Chant Group (Chant) is planning to hold a protest and dialogue this Saturday at the Pulau Tikus market next to the project to voice the people's unhappiness to the authorities.

Chant group adviser Yan Lee said if the people, namely Pulau Tikus residents and market patrons, objected strongly enough, the authorities might review the project as there was still ground to make a legal challenge.

The people in the area, he claimed, did not receive any notice to object, pursuant to the Town and Country Planning Act 1976.

He said the people were still wondering why the Penang Island Municipal Council (MPPP) allowed the conversion of the land, where the new high-rise project was being built, from residential to commercial when there were so many houses around it.

"Why did the council allow SOHO (small office, home office) units in this project? The developer, with its commercial title, is entitled to commercial density, but it will also be selling the units for residential purposes.

"Imagine a case where your neighbour opens an office next to your house. Hopefully,  our arguments will be heard and the authorities will look at the project again," he said yesterday.

Lee said Chant would also question why the developer did not have to comply with requirements to set aside land for a surau, an open space, and affordable housing when it was building SOHO units.

Another two issues that would be raise this Saturday are traffic and parking concerns since the new project is on a piece of land previously used as an open parking lot for the market crowd and people working in the area.

The project in Jalan Moulmein is also located just off Jalan Burma, where it is congested daily, especially during rush hours and weekends.

Lee said the people will question the MPPP on why the traffic impact assessment report on the area was not made public.

Although the developer had promised that its new project would also include a public basement car park to replace the old open car park earlier last month, he said the people were still unsure whether the parking issue would be solved.

"The developer can promise that the parking fee for the basement car park will be reasonable.

"But what happens after the building's management is taken over by a management committee? The developer will have no more control over the parking charges," he said.

Car parks, he said, should be run by the MPPP.

It was earlier reported that the project, Moulmein Rise, received objections from NGOs and some locals in Pulau Tikus due to fears that the development would worsen traffic congestion woes there.

Last month, after receiving many criticisms against the project which is being developed by Belleview Group, its managing director Datuk Sonny Ho, said steps were being taken to address the concerns.

Ho said the public basement car park at Moulmein Rise would accommodate 90 cars, just like the old open car park. He also said the parking charges would be reasonable.

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