GEORGE TOWN: Penang will only engage with those directly impacted by the proposed Penang South Reclamation (PSR) project and not with non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said state Agriculture, Agro-based Industries, Rural Development and Health Committee chairman Dr Afif Bahardin would arrange a meeting with the affected fishermen.
The meeting would take place after the state comes up with a compensation package, which includes ex-gratia payment and an empowerment programme, he said.
Dr Afif is heading the task force to negotiate with fishermen affected by the PSR project, Chow added.
“We will follow through with the due process. Our approach is to deal directly with the stakeholders that are impacted.
“As for the NGOs, they can lend their voices, we will also take note,” he said on the sidelines of the World Seafood Congress 2019 here today.
Present was Deputy Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Sim Tze Tzin and Dr Afif.
Chow was asked to comment on the request by NGO Gerakan Pembela Ummah (Ummah) to have a meeting with the Penang government to discuss the PSR project.
The project would see the creation of three man-made islands off the southwestern tip of the island, measuring about 1,800ha and is to fund the Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP), the state’s solution to the traffic woes.
Ummah held a peaceful protest on Saturday against the PSR project and urged the state to review the PTMP.
Ummah chairman Mohd Akhir Che Mat had also pledged to bring the matter to Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad if the state government is not open to cooperating with them.
Asked if the state would scrap the PSR project, Chow reiterated that it would go ahead since the state had already obtained the necessary approval.
Meanwhile, Dr Afif said he was still working out the formula for the compensation package.
“Once it is finalised, I will discuss with the state government for a final decision,” he said.
Commenting on the matter, Sim said Penang needed to find the right balance between protecting the marine resources and development.
The fishing community has been opposing reclamation since 2015.
Environmentalists opposing the project had argued that it would impact the livelihood of fishermen and the marine ecosystem in the southern part of the island.