KUALA LUMPUR: The government will look into the plight of a group of Penang fishermen who staged a protest outside Parliament over the Penang South Reclamation (PSR) project, says Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
"We will look at all their views, and if it is as they said, we will take immediate action," he told reporters at the parliament lobby.
The PSR project involves the development of three man-made islands with a total size of over 1,800ha, with parts of the islands to be put up for sale.
The proceeds from the sales would then be used to fund projects under the Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP), a RM49bil mega project aimed at solving traffic congestion on the state’s island side.
Asked if the government was prepared to accept the memorandum, the Prime Minister said: "If they can give the memorandum, we can read it."
Prior to this, a large group of fishermen from various associations from Penang and Perak staged a protest against the PSR project and the sand mining project in Perak.
In their joint-memorandum, the group expressed disappointment and questioned the speedy approval of PSR's Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) from the Department of Environment (DoE) on July 5 – less than a month after the feedback submissions deadline.
The group said several non-governmental organisations and technical experts had submitted separate feedback letters to the DoE on why the project should proceed.
"Instead of upholding the importance of public participation, the DoE's treatment of the EIA process ignored valid concerns and objections, as if the public does not deserve any explanation," said the memorandum.
The memorandum was submitted to Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister, Datuk Salahuddin Ayub.
It was reported that the Penang state government had assured that it would go through the conditions of approval for the Penang South Reclamation (PSR) project Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report before holding another meeting with the state’s fishermen association.
Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the meeting with the association would discuss the compensation package for the fishermen, which was among the conditions stipulated for approval of the EIA.
On a separate matter, the Prime Minister said it was not proper to threaten any group with violence, even if they disagreed with one's stance or beliefs.
"Well, that is not the proper way to do it.
"If they want to become Buddhist or Syiah, it is their right, so long as they don't spread their teaching to local Muslims who are practising the Sunni school of thought, known as ahli Sunnah Wal Jamaah," he said.
Dr Mahathir was asked to comment on the report that the "Amman Message" seminar organised by the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS), which was scheduled to take place this Saturday (July 13) but was cancelled following a bomb threat received from a Facebook user.
PDRM Corporate Communications head Datuk Asmawati Ahmad said the decision to cancel the seminar was made by the organiser, and not on the advice of the police.
She said the threat was received by the organiser from the Facebook page of "Gerakan Banteras Syiah" on July 6, from Facebook account owner Amirol Md Zain stating, “kita bomb tempat nie” (we’ll bomb this place).
“IAIS deputy chief executive officer Associate Professor Dr Mohamed Azam Mohamed Adil has lodged a police report on Wednesday (July 10).
“Police are conducting an investigation under Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 and Section 507 of the Penal Code,” he said in a statement.