SEVERAL issues in Penang brought assemblymen from both sides of the political divide together in calling for the state government to take action.
Among the most common problems raised by many of the elected representatives were wild boar and monkey attacks and harassment.
Many Penangites living near wooded areas had complained to their assemblymen about wild boars and monkeys destroying their crops or even invading their homes.
“There were 13 complaints on monkeys and wild boars in my constituency this year. We need the Department of Wildlife and National Parks to make a greater effort to control this, ” said Nor Hafizah Othman (BN-Permatang Berangan).
Opposition Leader Datuk Muhamad Yusoff Mohd Noor (BN-Sungai Dua) said there was even a recent death in his constituency caused by a wild boar.
“A youth died recently after the motorcycle he was riding crashed into a wild boar that dashed into the road.
“Many smallholders have complained to me about wild boars or monkeys destroying their crops.
“Perhilitan rangers went but they did not arrive quickly enough. Maybe they are shorthanded?” Muhamad Yusoff asked at the state assembly sitting yesterday.
The other assemblymen who reported similar problems in their areas were Zulkifli Ibrahim (Bersatu-Sungai Acheh), Jason H’ng Mooi Lye (PH-Jawi) and Mohd Tuah Ismail (PH-Pulau Betong).
Mohd Tuah said a woman in his constituency was recently injured in a monkey attack, and he believed that these animals were appearing among people because development had encroached into their habitat.
Mohd Tuah said he was told that in Sungai Burung, a fishing village near Balik Pulau town, a Perhilitan monkey trap placed there was left untended for so long that a monkey caught in it died of starvation.
But in his summing up later, state environment committee chairman Phee Boon Poh told the Hall that Perhilitan had no record of monkeys dying in the traps.
“We have formed a human-wildlife conflict committee comprising various departments and we will draft a management plan on this. We take this seriously, ” Phee said.
An issue that many assemblymen also wanted the government to change its approach was enforcement action against unlicensed roadside traders.
Muhamad Yusoff said he had been giving large umbrellas and tables for folk in his area to set up roadside stalls to sell food.
“Then, enforcers go and confiscate the umbrellas, tables and the food the people were selling.
“Many lost their source of income since the movement control order started.
“We ask that the government be empathetic. Advise roadside traders and help them to be able to trade safely instead of issuing compounds and making their lives worse, ” he said.
Also urging the government not to be so heavy-handed were Mohd Tuah, Gooi Hsiao Leung (PH-Bukit Tengah) and Azrul Mahathir Aziz (PH-Bayan Lepas).
“Seberang Prai City Council allows roadside traders to sell food on takeaway basis, but Penang Island City Council does not. Can we ask MBPP to issue temporary licences for people to earn a living as roadside traders?
“Many are suffering now. Be citizen-friendly. Give them a chance, ” Mohd Tuah said.
Azrul Mahathir asked for both city councils to be lenient with enforcement during the pandemic.
“I hope the councils will listen to the views and appeals of assemblymen before issuing compounds and notices to traders in our constituencies, ” he added.
Another problem that brought assemblymen together is the plight of Penangites involved in the performing arts — singers, dancers and musicians — who can hardly make a living during the MCO.
Chris Lee Chun Kit (PH-Pulau Tikus) and Syerleena Abdul Rashid (PH-Seri Delima) called for theformation of Penang Arts Council and grants to support this group.
During the debate on the state’s budget, Dr Afif Bahardin (Bersatu-Seberang Jaya) said he agreed with Lee and asked that the state create the Tan Sri P. Ramlee Award to honour and reward Penangites who excel in the performing arts.
At one point, Muhamad Yusoff rose to echo the need to help those in the performing arts and Lee said: “Yes, I agree with you. It feels odd for me to agree with the Opposition Leader, but I do”.
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