Land clearing ruining Penang island, says Gerakan

KUALA LUMPUR: Penang’s failure to monitor extensive land clearing projects has led to severe environmental problems, claims Gerakan.

Party vice-president Datuk Dr Dominic Lau Hoe Chai said more than 30 plots of green land on the island were being cleared to make way for development.

He claimed that seven areas were badly affected – namely the land near Titi Kerawang Waterfalls, Bukit Elvira, Teluk Bahang dam, Teluk Kumbar, Sungai Ara Hills, Bukit Sungai Pinang and Bukit Kukus.

“It is obvious from some of the pictures we managed to obtain that the clearing was extensive with most purportedly done to create residential areas,” he told a press conference here yesterday.

Dr Lau said this was acknowledged by DAP’s own leaders, such as Kepong MP Dr Tan Seng Giaw, who in a Facebook post on Sunday, stated that the coast of Penang island was changing.

“Balik Pulau is less green. The population of 850,000 require houses and employment.

“The priority is to preserve the forest and greenery,” Dr Tan further wrote.

In 2014, DAP’s Tanjung Bungah assemblyman Teh Yee Cheu alleged that illegal hill clearing was taking place in Bukit Kukus.

Dr Lau urged Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and the Penang government to explain the alleged extensive land clearing activities.

“People say that Gerakan is making a political attack against the DAP, what with an impending general election and the fact that we are the Opposition in Penang.

“But this is not about politics. These are facts.

“They (DAP) said before that they wanted to protect the environment, but they did not keep to their promise,” he said.

Dr Lau also claimed that foreign direct investments (FDIs) in Penang dropped drastically between 2010 and 2013.

“FDIs fell 82% in Penang during that time, according to the Malaysian Investment Development Authority.

“Also, since 2015, several factories and companies based in Penang island have moved out, seeking other places for business,” he said.