PETALING JAYA: The Penang government has been told to stop politicising the Tanjung Bungah landslide tragedy and focus on giving the support needed by the victims' families.
“They should also bring to book the culprits responsible for disregarding prevailing regulations and the advice given by the various government departments,” said the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry.
“First, we would like to clarify that the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment was merely stating the facts of the matter with reference to the objection of the permission to commence planning for the project by the Department of Environment (DOE).
“There is no bias expressed or implied in stating that the DOE had rejected the proposal in November 2014.
"The subsequent appeal was also rejected in January 2015, demonstrating consistency in the decision of the Department,” the ministry said in response to a statement by Bukit Bendera MP Zairil Khir Johari.
Zairil, who blamed the ministry for politicising the issue, had said that the DOE’s objection to the Tanjung Bungah project was based on the site’s proximity to a granite quarry. He said DOE did not mention about hill slopes in its objection.
Zairil said that the project was only approved after the opinions of 17 different technical departments, mostly federal government agencies, were taken into account.
The agencies included were the Department of Minerals and Geoscience which is in charge of mining activities, slop safety and quarrying, which falls under the purview of the ministry.
The ministry explained that DOE had taken into account the environmental factors when making a decision with regards to any proposed development.
This was based on the DOE guidelines known as the “Guidelines for Siting and Zoning of Industry and Residential Areas (SZIRA) October 2012."
“Notwithstanding the claims made by Zairil on the stringent standards employed by the Penang state government, the final approval for the development of the apartment blocks was granted by the local authorities under the state government and NOT the federal government.”
The ministry said it was not interested in politicising the issue or was there any deliberate misinformation as suggested by Zairil.
“The unnecessary loss of lives could have been avoided if the state government had adhered to the advice of the relevant agencies and prevailing rules and guidelines.
“Contrary to the allegations made by the same MP, government departments do not practice double standards especially when it comes to public safety.
“We are appalled to note that the MP and the state government are turning this tragedy into a platform to attack Putrajaya and civil servants who are merely doing their jobs."
On Oct 21, tonnes of laterite earth slid down from a cut slope at the Tanjung Bungah construction site at about 8.30am, burying 11 construction workers.
All the bodies have been recovered.