Home Coalitions Penang Forum Grave environmental concerns as Penang ushers in 2019

Grave environmental concerns as Penang ushers in 2019

Join us on Telegram and Instagram for the latest.

Khoo Salma Nasution points to issues of concern in Penang as it ushers in the New Year.

As we come to the end of 2018, we note that the Penang environment has gone through annus horribilis two years in a row. Two landslide tragedies took place within the space of one year, resulting in 20 precious lives lost.

A measly RM35,000 fine was imposed for 11 lives lost in the BSG Granito landslide. No one has yet been held accountable for the MBPP Bukit Kukus Paired Road landslide.

The floods of November 2017 were followed by a series of smaller floods, land slips and road slips this year. We are ill-prepared for another major climate event.

The draft Penang Structure Plan displayed this year (2018) is loosening hill development restrictions and showing us a vision of rapacious reclamation with an utter lack of concern for coastal environment, sustainable fisheries and Life Under Water.

The Peel Avenue land, which could have been used for public purpose, has been sold and heritage bungalows demolished. And just this week, the illegal clearing of a football-field size area of mangroves has been discovered.

A 10-km Pulau Betong to Telok Bahang road was announced recently, which will mean the destruction of large areas of mangrove.

In light of the recent tsunami tragedies in Indonesia, the present government’s continued disregard for mangrove tsunami barriers seem completely short-sighted. “Botak Hill” is still botak.
READ MORE: Away from public eye, chainsaw-wielding workers hack through Pulau Jerejak forest

Penang’s future is fraught with man-made environmental threats. The Pan-Island Link (PIL) will severely compromise and/or destroy the two most important parks on Penang island: Sungai Ara Linear Park and Youth Park.

READ MORE:  Banjir melanda Malaysia lebih kerap daripada pengusiran ahli politik 'buruk'

The trees along the entire stretch of Persiaran Kuari into Youth Park will likely be cut down for the feeder road. While we are busy planting small trees and saving some grass circles, there is no honest account of all the mature old-growth trees that will be sacrificed for the various components of the proposed Penang transport masterplan.

Penangites have seen the state’s unrealistic physical development policies that will put undue pressure on our natural environment. We have come to realise that we can no longer rely on politicians to help us with the proliferating environmental issues in the face of over-development, and the state’s lack of understanding on new strategies and new building codes needed to adapt to climate change.

Instead, we, the People of Penang, need to come together to save our state.

This year alone, petitions to save the hills of Penang, stop hill cutting for housing development, and reject damaging highways, have raised a total of almost 150,000 signatures.

They are:

  • Floods and landslide: Stop hill-cutting for housing development (almost 80,000 signatures)
  • Reject PIL/Zenith (20,000 signatures on online and hard copy)
  • Save Penang Hill (almost 45,000 signatures)

The proposed highways and expensive LRT would leave our future generations in debt. We want public funds to be spent on repairing our hills and preventing future flooding, so that Penangites will not become the victims of development.

We warn of the dangers of building 70km of new highway (Zenith and SRS Consortium), most of them through parks, established neighbourhoods and environmentally-sensitive areas.

READ MORE:  Swamped by floods and political arrogance

Instead, we want a masterplan that will prioritise affordable public transport even if it means introducing traffic restrictions and congestion charges: moving people, not cars.

We call upon the people of Penang to wake up and demand development and transport strategies which are not destructive to our environment, and which will not fail our climate commitments or betray the Penang we leave to future generations.

Khoo Salma Nasution is a Penang Forum steering committee member.

Thanks for dropping by! The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

Our voluntary writers work hard to keep these articles free for all to read. But we do need funds to support our struggle for Justice, Freedom and Solidarity. To maintain our editorial independence, we do not carry any advertisements; nor do we accept funding from dubious sources. If everyone reading this was to make a donation, our fundraising target for the year would be achieved within a week. So please consider making a donation to Persatuan Aliran Kesedaran Negara, CIMB Bank account number 8004240948.
Notify of
1 Comment
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x