GEORGE TOWN: Some 1,000 fishermen today handed a memorandum to the state government to protest against the proposed Penang South Reclamation (PSR) project.
The memorandum was received by state information officer Zahar Zainul at the state legislative assembly building here.
On July 11, the fishermen handed a similar memorandum to Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Salahuddin Ayub in Parliament.
Penang Fishermen’s Association chairman Nazri Ahmad said they were disappointed with the “arrogance culture” portrayed by the state government.
“We are here to personally meet state leaders to voice our laments to them,” he said.
“We want to tell them personally why we are against the project.
“Instead, we were met by a representative outside the building.
“This is most disappointing. In Parliament, we even managed to meet several Cabinet ministers.”
He said they had spoken out against the reclamation project since 2015, but their concerns had fallen on deaf ears.
“There should be a form of cooperation between the state government and us on this issue, but such cooperation is not in sight,” he added.
Earlier, they gathered at the adjacent Padang Kota Lama field where several fishermen and non-governmental organisations (NGO) took turns to speak up against the project and its impact on the fishermen, fishing industry and environment.
They repeatedly chanted “Tolak Tambak” and “Bantah Tambak” (reject reclamation).
They also held banners that read “Solidariti Bersama Nelayan” (solidarity with fishermen) and “Something fishy is going on down south”.
They were joined by fishermen from Perlis and Perak.
Nazri reiterated that the fishermen were not against development, but were fighting for survival.
“We have heard how the project will have an adverse impact on us, who have been relying on the sea since the time of our forefathers,” he said.
“There is no way we can accept the reclamation.
“As such, we urge everyone to stand united with us in our fight against the massive reclamation project.”
Nazri stressed that the people would not feel its effects now, but in the long run when fishermen were no longer going to sea.
“Today, some 1,000 fishermen are not at sea,” he said.
”So, we don’t know where the fishery products will come from.
“What about when the project begins?
“Fishermen will no longer get to go to sea and the people will no longer get to enjoy fresh seafood.
“This is what we dread and fear.
“We already see the impact of reclamation from other projects, and the impact from the PSR, will be even greater.”
Meanwhile, Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) president Mohideen Abdul Kader urged all Malaysians to reject the reclamation.
“There is no need for such large scale reclamation.
“Penang has seen many reclamations with adverse impact.
“Why should we need to create three islands, about two-thirds the size of Pulau Jerejak?
“If the state needs land, it can go to the mainland.
“There is still a lot of land there which has yet to be fully developed,” he said, adding that the development in the three islands will not benefit locals.”
Penang Forum member Khoo Salma Nasution raised the alarm bell that the reclamation would destroy the food chain.
“There will come a time where we eat mee udang (prawn mee) without the prawns or cucur udang (prawn fritters) without the prawns.
Penaga assemblyman Mohd Yusni Mat Piah said the opposition would support the fishermen’s plight and would speak up against the PSR during the ongoing assembly sitting.
The state government is seeking funding for its Light Rail Transit (LRT) and Pan Island Link (PIL) I projects, both of which are components in the state-initiated RM46 billion Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP), aimed at addressing the state’s worsening traffic woes.
It is expected to fund the massive project through the PSR project, which will see the creation of three man-made islands in the southern part of the island, measuring some 1,800ha.
All three projects have been granted conditional approval by the authorities.
Environmentalists opposed to the PSR project have argued that such a project would adversely impact the livelihood of fishermen and the marine ecosystem in the southern part of the island.
The Penang government is seeking RM10 billion in funding from the Federal Government, and if that is successful, it said it would consider scaling down the project.