GEORGE TOWN: The failure of the Penang government in protecting the livelihood of the fishermen affected by the Seri Tanjung Pinang 2 (STP2) reclamation project on the island justifies the Federal Government’s withholding of support for the Penang South Reclamation (PSR) project.
Penang Gerakan Padang Kota state constituency coordinator H’ng Khoon Leng said this was because the impact of the proposed PSR project would be worse.
“It would affect not only the southern part of Penang island, but also Seberang Prai and northern Perak.
“As such, it is justifiable that the prime minister would withhold support for the project,” he said today.
On Saturday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had said that the Federal Government would not support the PSR project if fishermen’s livelihood was affected.
This, he said, was because the project was like putting sand into the rice bowl of 1,500 fishermen and their families.
In response, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng claimed that Penang gave out the most compensation in Malaysia to fishermen affected by reclamation, and that reclamation would not greatly affect the fishermen.
H’ng said Lim’s remarks sounded like a desperate sales pitch.
“If the STP2 reclamation off the north coast of Paramount beach, Gurney Drive and Tanjung Tokong is used as a yardstick, his (Lim’s) claim that fishermen are not affected by sea reclamation is misleading.
“The reclamation had caused the near extinction of most fish species there. Even the catfish is gone. In the past, a day’s catch could bring in more than 20kg of crabs. After the reclamation began, that dwindled to 1kg or 2kg.
“It is clear that sea sand had been poured into the rice bowl of these fishermen.”
H’ng said during the exhibition of the Detailed Environmental Impact Assessment between Jan 24, 2014, and Feb 21, 2014, the Tanjung Tokong fishermen had requested for better boats, engines and equipment so that they could fish in open sea as the coastal area would be affected.
However, he said, on July 3, 2015, two weeks before Hari Raya, 152 fishermen were given only consolation payments.
“They were not told that this was the only compensation. Each fisherman was given RM15,000, while 61 fishing crew were given RM2,000 each. RM15,000 is roughly equivalent to only six months’ income.
The state government, H’ng said, had failed to protect and help the fishermen.
H said the type and amount of compensation should be different as the STP2 reclamation was different from the one in Jelutong and for the second bridge.
“I urge the state government to resolve the issue with the fishermen as soon as possible.”