THE Consumers Association of Penang and Sahabat Alam Malaysia are relieved to read the clarification by Federal Territories Minister Khalid Abdul Samad that the National Physical Planning Council (NPPC) has not approved the Penang South Reclamation project yet.
We very much welcome the clarification by Minister Khalid that “the council did not give any approval or make any decision on the project; instead, it gave the state government 18 conditions which have been outlined”.
We also appreciate very much that the minister’s statement said that “the state government was also advised to continue engaging with the local community to ensure their needs are given due consideration”.
The Consumers Association of Penang and Sahabat Alam Malaysia, together with other non-governmental organisations, have been very active in analysing the proposed reclamation project as well as other projects like PIL1 (Pan Island Link 1), the undersea tunnel and paired roads, which together form the Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP).
We will continue to be active in making our views known to the state and federal governments and agencies, and to engage with the authorities and the local communities.
We reiterate our view that the reclamation and other projects of the PTMP are very damaging to Penang and Malaysia in the financial, environmental, cultural, heritage and local community aspects.
There are much cheaper, better and environmentally-sound ways of improving transport in Penang instead of the RM46bil project proposed by the state government.
We also cannot understand why the projects are so overpriced, especially at a time when the country is trying to save money.
For example, the PIL1 project is estimated to cost RM8bil for 20km of road, or RM400mil per kilometre. This is far above the RM68mil per kilometre cost of the revised East Coast Rail Link federal project and also above many other highway and road projects in Malaysia. Obviously, the state government’s whole transport plan has to be reviewed from many aspects.
Meanwhile, we urge the chief minister not to make any further statements about the projects.
In recent days he announced the reclamation project had been approved by the NPPC (when it was not); that the Department of Environment (DOE) had approved the Environmental Impact Assessment for the PIL1 project (he later said the EIA contained faulty information about hillslopes due to a computer error); and that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) had closed a corruption probe against the main company involved in the undersea tunnel project.
Surely it is for these agencies to make any announcements and not for the CM to appear to be a spokesperson for the NPPC, the DOE and the MACC. S.M. MOHAMAD IDRIS
& Sahabat Alam Malaysia