A newly formed loose network of citizens groups, Penang Citizens’ Awareness Chant, is calling for proper planning and sustainable development to be upheld in the state.
Private citizens and representatives from the following groups and NGOs – Penang Heritage Trust (PHT), Pykett Westland KhawSimBee Residents Group (PRG), Tanjong Bungah Residents Association (TBRA), Consumers Association Penang (CAP), Savoy Gardens Residents Group (SGRG), Pertubuhan Pelindung Khazanah Alam( PEKA), Penang Forum and Green Voters 2.0 Penang – came together for a first discussion on Wednesday, 12 October 2011.
The Penang Citizens’ Awareness Chant group is a coming together of private citizens, NGOs and interested parties who wish to engage the press and media by issuing appeals to the authorities to take appropriate actions to safeguard Penang’s fragile heritage & natural environment.
We have been compelled to act by the seemingly lack of action on the part of authorities against the rampant over development of Penang and the negligence that is allowed to take place. It is time for the authorities to be more vigilant to protect the quality of life for all Penangites and to ensure that our beloved natural environment & heritage is not destroyed.
The Penang Citizens’ Awareness Chant Group has compiled this list, which we are releasing… All items listed below need immediate attention from the authorities. We feel the authorities are duty-bound to act, within their responsibility and we will continue to ‘chant’ this list until action is taken.
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Of most urgent concern is the ongoing:
1. Kek Lok Si car park development, crematorium and columbarium. Pollution of the Ayer Itam Dam from crematorium fall out, and the displacement of Savoy Garden residents. We question how development on this scale can be allowed. This clearing has direct impact on one of our main waterways and on the local natural environment.
2. Pykett Avenue demolition and consequences of overdevelopment in this neighbourhood. The issue of the illegal demolition has not been resolved satisfactorily. We question the illegal demolition that is rampant with no consequences.
3. Unesco WHS demolition of buildings within the zones is still taking place, as well as rampant illegal renovations. We question the lack of enforcement by MPPP on demolitions, illegal renovations and swiftlet farming – which is tantamount to having a chicken coup or chicken farm as your neighbour. The sound of jack hammers ring through George Town at weekends and public holidays. We question why MPPP lacks the ability to investigate and question these renovations. The building codes are clear.
4. sPICE . We question the reasons behind the sale of the 24-acre Pisa complex to S P Setia and request full transparency in this matter.
5. Development density increased to 87 units per acre based on allowable plot ratio of 2.8. We question the rational behind this when there is still no plan for improved infrastructure and traffic management.
6. Penang Local Plan has still not been released for public scrutiny. Where is it?
7. Penang Hill Development. We wish to see transparency with regards to the Crag Hotel Development, the designs planned for the Upper and Lower Stations, and the saga of the now defunct car park development at the Lower Hill Railway station. The Penang Hill Special Area Plan should be released to the public.
8. Penang Turf Club sale of land to Berjaya Land Bhd’s subsidary. To a total of 57 acres located at the Penang Turf Club vicinity. We question the consequences of this development with the increased density of 87 units per acre = 4959. We question the social impact on the current community, infrastructure and traffic in the area.
9. Swiftlet farming in the Unesco WHS and residential areas. The authorities must adopt the 1Garis Panduan and enforce the regulations in this guideline. The authorities must implement the swiftlet farm removal plan from the Unesco WHS in line with the DPM’s statement (2 September 2010) that swiftlet farms would be prohibited and removed form the Unesco WHS within three years. Threats include but not limited to damage to historical building structures and threat to public health. Swiftlet farming is tantamount to having a chicken coup or a chicken farm as your neighbour.
10. George Town Unesco WHS. There is an urgency to get the SAP adopted and approved.
11. Penang Traffic Plan . There is a need for the overall traffic plan to be adopted and approved. Development cannot be allowed to go on without the traffic plan in place.
12. Development audit. An audit of all development projects on Penang island. This is all about accountability. Is there sense in all these development projects if returns are insignificant. Impact on the natural environment around large developments is compromised and if they fail, then there is knock-on effect in home costs, degradation of neighbourhoods etc.
13. Over-development on our northern beaches . There is inadequate infrastructure to support such growth. We question this.
14. Impact of reclamation. Examples are the Gurney mudflats and the area around Queensbay. The ‘growth’ of mudflats in these areas compromise the whole natural and man-made drainage infrastructure of Penang Island. We question the lack of environmental impact reports made public on this issue.
15. The Rifle Club in the Botanical Gardens. The expansion of this club within the Botanic Garden area is questionable and it is no longer appropriate in an area so beloved by the public of Penang.
16. PDC demolition of shophouses at Magazine Road and Sia Boey, and the Prangin market building and parking lot on the Prangin Canal. We ask for transparency and request all plans for this site, which marks the entrance to our Unesco WHS, to be publicly released. We question the legitimacy of PDC to demolish this area of historically significant shop-houses right on the edge of the WHS.
17. ‘Dead End’ traffic and road system on the Northern beaches. We demand accountability on this project and question why this has been abandoned and now totally defunct.
18. Significant historic buildings and sites in danger:
18.1 Tenby School Site and SP Setia- Burma Lane. Planned development ‘V’ Residence. We request transparency in this matter. Plans and traffic and infrastructure reports should be released to the public.
18.2 457 Burma Road-‘Safari’ – also planned for development. We request transparency on this location.
18.3 The Ayer Hitam Estate – earmarked for redevelopment?
The Penang Taxpayers Chant Group will meet at regular intervals in order to specifically engage the press on specific topics within this list. Members of the public and representatives of NGOs will take the time to inform the press on these issues and their consequences. We ask all concerned citizens and NGOs to join us as one voice against the lack of enforcement and engagement shown by the authorities. We wish to compel the State and MPPP to act and with the support of all concerned citizens we can make a change and preserve Penang for our future generations.
Citizens Awareness Chant Group