GEORGE TOWN: The proposed Penang South Reclamation project, which is set to affect some 1,500 fishermen, shows that the DAP-led Penang government’s policy fails to take into consideration the people’s interest.
Balik Pulau Umno division chief Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya said the state government should instead have placed other factors as their top priority. He did not elaborate on what the factors were.
“It is obvious that the Penang government is not sensitive to the people’s needs and not capable of good planning.
“If the people’s interest takes centre stage, surely they (the Penang government) will not even consider the reclamation project. However, when they announced the project, it goes to show that they have different goals.
“This is very different from Barisan Nasional’s experience when it governed Penang. We put the interest and future of all as our main goal. As such, this kind of proposal is unheard of,” he said today.
Dr Hilmi, who is also Balik Pulau member of parliament and deputy health minister, urged the state government to be more sensitive in running the state and not to act according to their own “whims and fancies”.
Dr Hilmi, during a “Kenduri Rakyat” in Balik Pulau yesterday, had lamented to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak on how the reclamation project would affect the livelihood of 1,500 fishermen living on the southwestern coast of the island.
Najib yesterday said the Federal Government would not approve the proposed reclamation project if it was not environmentally friendly and would bring about a negative impact to the people.
Dr Hilmi said Umno Balik Pulau and the people in the southwestern part of the island were grateful to the prime minister for his stand on the issue.
“His (Najib’s) commitment and firmness is very meaningful, especially to the fishermen and their families, who depend on the sea to make a living.
“The prime minister himself knows that the zone targeted for reclamation by the Penang government is rich in marine life, and (the proposed reclamation project) will have long-term negative impact,” he added.
He stressed that the people of Balik Pulau were not against development or good planning.
“However, if it will have an adverse impact and ‘throw sand into people’s rice bowls’, there is no reason for such a development to proceed.
“Just imagine the damage the reclamation project could bring to that area. It does not make sense and should not be considered at all,” he said.
The state government proposed the reclamation project, located off the southwestern coast of Penang island, as a means to fund its highly-ambitious Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP).
The 1,821ha of land to be reclaimed would see the creation of three man-made islands.
The RM46 billion PTMP project is proposed as a means to reduce the state’s traffic congestion. It will include a light rail transit (LRT) system, a mass rapid transit (MRT) system, and several highways.
The project’s proposal has been met with objections from several quarters, particularly environmentalists and the fishing community.