Penang South Islands project to go on despite objections, says Penang CM

Penang South Islands project to go on despite objections, says Penang CM
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GEORGE TOWN (June 9): Despite numerous objections from various parties, the Penang government will proceed with the Penang South Islands (PSI) project, formerly known as the Penang South Reclamation (PSR) project.

Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said it is not one or the other, referring to the PSI, the environment issue and fishermen's welfare.

He said the state had been listening and agreed with the concerned parties on the importance of taking climate change into consideration and protecting the welfare of fishermen.

“This is why we are implementing so many mitigation measures, carrying out a socioeconomic plan for the fishermen, and introducing green initiatives for the PSI development — suffice to say that such a massive and comprehensive plan to improve the fishing community has never been done before anywhere in the country.

“We only disagreed on cancelling the project. We do not have to choose between the PSI or the environment and fishermen. Technology and engineering advancements can allow us to build the PSI and preserve the environment and the people at the same time,” he said in a statement here today.

Lately, various parties including Permatang Pauh Member of Parliament (MP) Nurul Izzah Anwar, Kepala Batas MP Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican, Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tunku Jaafar, the Consumers Association of Penang, Sahabat Alam Malaysia, civil society groups including the Penang Forum and fishermen’s groups had objected and called for the project to be cancelled.

However, Chow, who is also the Tanjong MP, said the people should consider the many socio-economic benefits the PSI will bring to Penang that have greater value than monetary returns.

“We never denied that the project will have impact, but we have always shared with the people how we intend to mitigate the impact, create new habitats for marine life, and provide more job and business opportunities for fishermen and other locals,” he said.

He explained that the job creation and economic growth stimulated by domestic and international investments will give financial stability and security to the people, while green initiatives like low-carbon developments and transportation, use of renewable energy, and provision of open spaces will contribute towards improving liveability and public well-being for decades to come.

“We strongly believe we are able to achieve all the above while also being fully compliant with stringent approval conditions imposed by the DoE (Department of Environment). As such, no precedence should be set by the government whereby approval for projects is reversed even though all approval conditions are being met," he said.

Under the PSR project, the state government is proposing to reclaim about 1,821 hectares of the sea to build three islands south of the Penang International Airport towards the east around Permatang Damar Laut to create a land bank that will be utilised to finance the Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) project.