GEORGE TOWN: A meet-the-people session at the Miami Green Resort Condominium here this morning turned into a “bashing exercise” against incumbent Bukit Bendera member of parliament Zairil Khir Johari.
Disgruntled residents, who are unhappy about a highrise hillslope development in their backyard, lashed out at the DAP representative as he addressed the crowd.
This was after Zeezy Global Sdn Bhd geotechnical consultant Aziz Noor, who was hired by the residents to conduct a peer review of the project’s geotechnical and environmental impact assessment reports, told them about the dangers that they faced if it were to proceed.
Aziz said the authorities should not gamble with the lives and safety of the public.
“I am happy to listen to the views of anyone if it is genuine. In terms of public engagement, the DAP-led Penang government has always been transparent,” said Zairil who was invited by Miami Green Resort Condominium management corporation representative Leslie Leng to address the crowd.
“Also, safety has always been our main concern, and the state government takes safety seriously.
“For this particular project, the planning approval was given by the authorities after the go-ahead was given by all technical departments, which are Federal Government agencies, as it meet the necessary guidelines.”
At this juncture, a resident, Jessica Lee, in her 50s, booed Zairil.
He responded by saying: “I am confident that approval would not have been given if the guidelines were not complied with.”
Lee then asked Zairil why the landslide in Tanjung Bungah had occured last October if this was so.
When he continued to defend the state government’s hillslope development policy, Lee shouted “bullshit”.
“Stop giving reasons. We do not need a ‘wakil pemaju’ (developers’ representative).
“Something definitely went wrong with the project as there was a quarry operation near the site,” Lee shouted at him.
Zairil, however, took it all in his stride and continued to state the position of the DAP-led administration.
He was non-committal when he was pressed to answer whether he would champion the residents’ cause and call for a halt to the highrise hillslope development.
He also did not answer a question from the floor about whether there would be a moratorium on hillslope development.
He was accused of leaving incumbent Tanjung Bungah assemblyman Teh Yee Cheu to fight the environmental issues plaguing the people of the area alone. Teh left DAP after saying he was no longer in sync with the party leadership.
Parti Rakyat Malaysia’s Chua Cheong Wee who is contesting against Zairil for the Tanjung Bungah seat also launched a salvo at Zairil, saying constituents did not need a ‘Yes Man’ to Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.
Zairil then claimed ignorance of the Miami Green Resort Condominium residents’ plight.
He said only assemblymen were given a copy of plans for development projects in their constituencies, not MPs.
Meanwhile, state Barisan Nasional (BN) chairman Teng Chang Yeow, who is also contesting for the seat, pledged to halt all hillslope development projects beyond 76.2m above sea level.
“That (halting of hillslope development) is in the Penang BN manifesto as well as my personal manifesto for Tanjung Bungah.
“We have to put a stop to the rot. The Tanjung Bungah of today is different from the Tanjung Bungah I knew back in 1991.
“We cannot continue to allow Penang’s hills to be opened up for further development.”
Leng said: “We are living in fear. If the project is pushed through, the consequences could be catastrophic.
“Destabilisation of the slopes could happen within a relatively short time as in the case of the Tanjung Bungah landslide or it could manifest over a period of time, like the Highland Tower tragedy.”
The Miami Green Resort Condominium comprises five 29-storey block. There are 1,700 residents living in the 550 units.
The proposed hillslope development comprises two blocks of three-storey service apartments, with 336 units each and a 28-storey block with 197 units of affordable apartments.
The project is on approximately 5ha of land on steep environmentally sensitive hillslopes. About two-thirds of the plot is more than 76.2m above sea level.
Residents have organised three press conferences since last year to highlight their plight and urge the state government to stop hillslope projects for the safety of the people.
Present was Malaysian United Party candidate Lee Zheng Yong.