Fisherfolk stage protest at sea against Penang land reclamation


A flotilla of about 150 fishing boats with about 500 on board has converged off the coast of Tanjung Tokong to protest against the inadequate compensation for land reclamation off Tanjung Tokong in Penang. The reclamation has jeopardised the livelihoods of the fishing community here and threatens to further undermine food security in the state.

flotilla protest
Photograph: Neil Bennett

A marine police boat was spotted at sea as well.

Online publicity material said the protest was organised by a group caling themselves Jawatankuasa Bertindak Hak-hak Nelayan (Berhak). Local residents believe the fishing settlement in Tanjung Tokong predated the arrival of Francis Light.

One of the fisherfolk at the protest today told a Penang Forum activist that he was reluctant to venture further away from the fishing area as he was unfamiliar with the waters beyond and the obstacles beneath the surface that could damage his nets, making the returns from the catch not worth his while.

He said he has been trying to fish a bit further out from the reclamation area. But even up to 0.5-1 km away from the cordoned site, the waters below are already barren, depending on how far the deposited silt has been dumped by currents – this despite the silt curtain that is supposed to be in place.

Photograph: Dr Kam Suan Pheng, Penang Forum

Massive land reclamation in Penang and elsewhere in Malaysia has been controversial, raising searching questions about the model of development those in power are pursuing in collaboration with high-end property developers. Not least is the question of sustainability of fisheries and food security. And many wonder why the price of fish and other seafood has soared in a state almost surrounded by the sea.

READ MORE:  The CCCC connection in Penang

Well, wonder no more.

Photograph: TH Lim
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  1. Brunei-Singapore joint venture for land-based vertical aquaculture farming.

    The ground breaking ceremony marks the commencement of the construction phase for the establishment of vertical, land-based, bio-secured, high density aquaculture farming in Brunei Darussalam by KR Apollo Sendirian Berhad. With a total investment of over 20 million dollars, KR Apollo’s integrated fisheries project at this site, will realize the production of aquaculture food-fish and aquarium fish from this year onwards.

  2. There were suggestions that Penang fishermen affected by reclamation projects should go out to deeper seas to cari-makan.
    This news is salt fish for thought:
    ‘Foreign fishermen with military training in M’sia waters’

    There is truth to media reports that foreign fishermen who aggressively encroached Malaysian waters last year, had military training, says Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Shahidan Kassim.

    He said the claim was further strengthened by the aggressive approach of the group of 150 boats escorted by a Coast Guard patrol boat, causing them to even brazenly collide with Malaysian enforcement boats.

    “In the report, we obtained information the foreign fishermen were trained by the military,” he added.

    Shahidan was speaking to reporters after launching the establishment of the Malaysian Maritime Volunteer Reserve (PSSMM) and the Malaysian Maritime Cadet Team (PASKAM) in Kuala Perlis today.

    He said the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) had been directed not to compromise with foreign fishermen who intruded Malaysia’s
    territorial waters.

    Shahidan noted that these foreign fishing boats were hardly nabbed by MMEA as compared to fishing boats from Vietnam, Thailand or Indonesia.

    He said the South China Sea off Sabah and Sarawak was popular with foreign fishermen, apart from the waters off Kelantan and Terengganu.

    “To ensure more secure territorial waters, the government has set up PSSMM and PASKAM so that the people can play their role more effectively to assist MMEA in eradicating maritime crimes.

    “In this regard, the authorities are educating local fishermen to help stem encroachment of territorial waters by foreign fishermen.”

    Shahidan said two coastal patrol boats contributed by Japan, and several patrol boats ordered from China would be deployed to boost the country’s sovereignty.

    He said the country’s waters had become the focus of foreign fishermen as it was a rich fishing ground while not many Malaysian fishermen were willing to venture into deep sea fishing.

    – Bernama

    • Mega projects in Johor to give big boost to country’s economy

      Perhaps the fishermen in Penang must see the ‘bigger picture’ and learn from their Johor counterparts?

      • Already, Johoreans cannot afford such high-end properties which inevitably leads to higher costs of living, cost of doing business (high rentals) & more repatriation of our Ringgit to foreign shores, what exactly are you talking about a ‘bigger picture’?
        What kind of future is in store for Johoreans?

      • The future of Johoreans is dependant on the economy of Singapore – providing jobs and Singaporeans spending power in JB. Therefore most Johoreans are hardly impacted by the poor economic situation in Malaysia so long as Singapore is thriving.

  3. Man beats up security guard for clamping car
    A security guard was assaulted yesterday at a condominium in Green Lane, George Town for refusing to remove a tyre clamp from a car parked at the visitor’s parking.
    Eye-witnesses told Malaysiakini the assailant struck T Ramaraj’s torso with a bolt cutter which he was using to free his Mercedes Benz.

    Go Money, Can Do Anything!
    Such is the price of Cosmopolitan Penang Frenzied where some Richie think they own the lands & can do anything (samseng)!

  4. Protest by 300 Penang fishing boats against reclamation

    This compensation thing is going to be tacky, contentious & personal as no 2 fishermen are alike.
    As claimed by Penang Fishermen’s Association chairman Nazri Ahmad that the association was not objecting to stop the reclamation project,
    the issue is unhappiness of fishermen with the compensation package offered to those afffected.

    Now, how are the developers to continue paying different amount of compensations as & when problems of fishermen arrive like the winds of Gurney Drive?
    Or are these compensations time-limited or agreed once upon a time?

    I feel the fishermen are actually taken for a ride on the rough seas of compensations & integrity of livelihood claims.
    And maybe the developer sees this as a way to ‘divide’ the fishermen’s stand as some of these poor fishermen are hard-up for any amount of compensation money during hard times. Have you heard of the proverbs: Divide & Rule or to be more precise here – Divide & Confuse?

    • Ha ha. No such protest in Southern Johor where massive reclamation to build condominiums for PRC folks to make Malaysia their second homes?

      • The powerful ones talked nonsense, as though average Malay like me can afford to live in Forest City!

      • Dear Arifin.
        Have you not heard of: Got Money, Can Talk?
        And worse still: Got Money, Can Shut Others Up or Sue!
        And worst of all: Got Money, Can Demand Loyalty!

      • The Sultan said that Forest City’s mixed development project was not targeted at Chinese investors, but for anyone around the world, inclu­ding Johoreans.

        “This project will increase Johor’s land size and sovereignty,” he said in noting that the spill­over effect would include re­venue for the state go­vernment in terms of taxes and about 200,000 job op­­por­­­­tunities.

        The sultan said this in response to a series of comments and blog posts by Mahathir, who had claimed that huge tracts of land around Johor Bahru were being sold to fo­­reigners with no restriction, and there would be mass immigration to take up residence in these new cities.

        Mahathir had raised his concerns based on a Bloomberg report that claimed Forest City would accommodate 700,000 new houses upon its completion.

        This was on top of 60 similar other projects within Iskandar Malaysia around Johor Bahru, which could add another 500,000 houses.

      • 700000 new homes at Forest City meant for rich imported Bangsa Johor?
        The authority must really be out of touch of reality that most Johor folks cannot afford such luxury houses.

      • Dr M responds to royal jab, prepared to face lese majeste charge

        Dr Mahathir Mohamad has penned a letter in response to Johor ruler Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar, who accused the former prime minister of crossing the line with his remarks.

        In an exclusive interview with The Star, the sultan challenged Mahathir to show Johor the big investors from Arab countries, Australia or the United States “instead of China bashing”.

        Mahathir, in a letter published in page 33 of the The Star’s letter section today, said he is not sure if it is true whether the sultan issued a challenge to him, or if the English daily had interpreted the ruler’s remarks as such.

        “But unless HRH (His Royal Highness) denies he is challenging me, I will take the report of The Star as the truth,” he said, adding that he was also in a disadvantaged position.

        “While people can say what they like about me, and I welcome their freedom to say so, I hope that in responding to HRH’s challenge I will not be arrested and jailed without trial.

        “If it is with trial, I welcome the arrest,” he added.

        Mahathir claimed that his statement, which incurred the wrath of Sultan Ismail, was nothing more than repeating a report by Bloomberg with regard to the development projects in Johor.

        “What did Bloomberg say in its report on Nov 22 last year?

        “It said that a China Chinese company will build Forest City in JB, which can accommodate 700,000. It went on to say that planeloads of China Chinese are being flown in to view the man-sized model (with pictures) and they have and will buy most of the properties in Forest City.

        “I doubt if many Johor Malays and Chinese are buying or going to buy these apartments. There just aren’t that many Malaysians to buy all these properties.

        “Bloomberg, in the same report, mentioned 60 other developments similar to Forest City, and these are also being sold to mainland Chinese,” he added.

        ‘Part of Johor now a foreign country’

        Looking back to 1819, Mahathir said when Sultan Ali of Johor did not lease Singapore to the British, the Temenggong signed the lease.

        “And look at Singapore today. A part of Johor is now a foreign country – well developed no doubt, but a foreign country,” he added.

        Mahathir pointed out that there would be more than a million foreigners living in JB Forest City and the 60 other developments.

        While these new places would not become a foreign country, he said, they would have an inordinate percentage of foreign people.

        “If they stay long enough, they will be entitled to become citizens of Malaysia,” he added.

        Mahathir conceded that while he promoted foreign direct investment, it was not about buying land in Malaysia, developing them and selling them to foreigners who will stay here.

        “FDI is about investment in the manufacturing industry. Malaysian companies will construct the buildings and Malaysians will work in the industries. They will acquire skills and start their own manufacturing business.

        “Malaysian contractors are completely capable of building all kinds of buildings and developing land. We don’t need foreigners to do this. Look at Malaysia today. Ninety percent or more of these new buildings and development are by Malaysian companies. Majority of the buyers are Malaysians, and they are the people who stay there.

        “But when foreigners buy land, there is not even an inflow of capital. Much of the money will be borrowed locally. And they can do their business with their own banks,” he added.

        Mahathir said whatever foreign companies earn would be expatriated, and would result in outflow of capital.

        “When the scheme is introduced, wherein you can buy property in China and get one flat or house free in Malaysia, no profit will be made in Malaysia, therefore no taxes will be paid to the Malaysian government,” he added.

        Be transparent, publish all documents

        Mahathir called for all transactions to be made transparent.

        “Publish all documents about the investments, the number of workers, their home countries, the buyers, the banks which finance and all expatriation of funds. Do this honestly. No hiding.

        “So let the truly international Transparency International examine the exposed official documents. Let the people see the documents to prove their genuineness,” he added.

        As for his Looking East policy, which was cited to repudiate his recent remarks, Mahathir said it was not about asking the countries of the East to buy land in Malaysia, develop and sell to the people from these countries.

        “Yes, we have encouraged foreigners to make Malaysia their second home. But their numbers are very small. Looking East is not about mass immigration of hundreds of thousands. It is about Malaysians learning about how these Eastern countries developed themselves,” he added.

        Responding to those who label him as racist, Mahathir said it is easy to accuse him of such, and noted that he had been described as an ultra-Malay as well.

        “This labelling, this demonising actually exposes the lack of credible arguments against what I do or say. It reflects a fundamental lack of basis for the arguments against me.

        “This is a multiracial country. People of different ethnicities, languages, religions, cultures and even economic wellbeing have lived in this country in peace.

        “In many countries, even a slight difference in the interpretation of their common religion has resulted in violent conflicts and wars. But relatively speaking, Malaysia is stable and peaceful.

        “It is stable and peaceful because we accept each other as we are. During my 22 years as PM, there were no significant racial clashes. Differences, yes, but no violence. And the country grew.

        “Had I been a racist, my period would have seen turmoil and regression in this country,” he added.
        In his letter, Mahathir also dared The Star to publish his letter in full.

        “I will accept this article being totally blacked-out because we are living in a kleptocratic country where truth is anathema, only to be whispered but never said aloud.

        “I am a Malaysian born in Kedah. Malaysia is my home and the object of my loyalty. If I have to be accused of lese majeste for what I say, so be it,” he added.

      • XiaoBee: The authority must really be out of touch of reality that most Johor folks cannot afford such luxury houses.

        Isn’t it the same story in Penang? Maybe, to you it’s not so!
        I am not sorry to say this: “CAT is truly, insidiously out of touch with Penangites!”

      • Muhyiddin: To me, loyalty is not blind

        PETALING JAYA: Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin (pic) has said that no one should question his loyalty to Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar of Johor.

        The former deputy prime minister said that as a Johorean, it is already a given that he is loyal to both the Sultan and the state of Johor, though there is a caveat.

        “To me, loyalty is not blind. It must hinge on the principle of truth. This is also taught in Islam,” said Muhyiddin in a statement Wednesday.

        He was responding to the challenge by Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Seri Abdul Aziz Kaprawi to declare his loyalty to either the Sultan of Johor or to former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

        The issue, Muhyiddin said, is not of loyalty but of sovereignty and the interest of the Malaysian people.

        He questioned the motives of the Johor government in its sale of land, specifically regarding Forest City, to companies from China, an issue that has been vehemently raised by Dr Mahathir.

        Earlier, in an interview with Sin Chew Daily, Muhyiddin had also accused Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak of inviting mainland Chinese investments into the country, which he claimed was “robbing the rice bowl” of Malaysians.

        His claim drew a backlash from politicians, the business community and netizens.

        In a no-holds barred interview with The Star on Monday, a visibly upset Sultan Ibrahim singled out Dr Mahathir for “putting political interests above Malaysian interests, particularly Johor”.

        “Let me ask him this – Forest City is to be built on reclaimed land and most of these units are condominiums. In simple language, these units are up in the air. They are strata units.

        “I would like to ask Dr Mahathir if these foreign buyers can just take their apartments back home or carry off an inch of the reclaimed land,” Sultan Ibrahim said.

        Muhyiddin, in his statement on Wednesday, said that he knows what foreign investment is and understands its importance to the country, citing his experience in bringing in investment from overseas during his time as international trade and industry minister and later as Johor mentri besar.

        However, he said that foreign investment is not what is happening in Forest City.

        “In actuality, what is happening in Forest City is not foreign investment but the sale of land to foreign companies,” he said.

        His major concern is that the land being sold is freehold and, thus, can be permanently owned by foreign parties.

        Furthermore, he said, the land they are buying is not for investing in productive ventures, but simply to develop and sell.

        “Their workers are made up of foreigners who largely come from China and the building materials are also from China.

        “Furthermore, buyers of the residential units numbering 700,000 units are all largely Chinese nationals.

        “So what are the benefits to the people and the country of Malaysia besides the profits earned by the companies in joint ventures with companies from China?” said Muhyiddin.

        “When the sovereignty of the country is threatened and the interest of the people is threatened, then as a loyal citizen of king and country, it is my responsibility to speak truthfully,” he added.

      • Tunglang: Isn’t it the same story in Penang? Maybe, to you it’s not so!

        You must not forget many Penangites have been working and earningstring Singapore dollar to afford the properties in Penang. Those earning Ringgit can only look in dismay.

      • Loke,
        the type of development in Penang is skewed & manipulated to the present situation whereby these greedy developers are now desperately asking for government relaxation of rules & Bank Negara leniency of bank lending. Which shows one thing:
        these greedy (including property gurus) don’t read the market well but arrogantly built what is not saleable in Penang.
        It can happen anywhere where arrogant greed rules over state gomen plan.

      • Iskandar is all about building frenzy to enrich the already rich and powerful.
        We do not need those excuses as recently published in The Star.
        Selling land to PRC and build homes for foreigners – new breed of Bangsa Johor soon?

      • And soon, more capital outflow to PRC.
        And soon, Malaysian Tanah becomes commodities to sell or gamble like Ringgit.
        No need to take purchased Malaysian tanah-tanah + homes back to China!

      • Remember our Sejarah how the then Johor gave away Singapore to the British?

        Deja vu once again, now giving up freehold land in Iskandar to PRC chinese?

      • Better don’t sing the phrase “Tanah Air Cinta Ku”.
        It is meaningless to those who only see foreigners as Gods of Wealth….

      • Forest City logo is on the jersey of JDT football team – big sponsor to allow big spending on players.

      • So, Johor is courting big corporations to sponsor its football clubs, & what else?
        Corporate tango with blind eyes to adverse issues affecting the state?
        Like affordable housing, rising prices of food, rising crimes, etc.
        What a model state!

  5. After the slippery Cosmopolitan Penang Frenzied has fulfilled its slippery recalcitrance, Penangites will face these prospects:
    bo hu, bo he, bo Koay Kow, bo tau-te (pomfret), bo ikan kembung, bo chim, bo ham, bo jiu-hu.

    Only the rich & famous can afford imported Thai seafood & Japanese sushi seafood & American Salmon while ordinary Penangites will make do with kiam-hu.
    Enjoying seafood will just be fond memories of dining @ Teluk Bahang End of the World Seafood Restaurant or Paya Terubong’s famous Ah Chooi Seafood Restaurant.

    But some fat CATs will dine & wine with famous developers at the highest restaurant @ Komtar Tower or at the high class seafront restaurant @ The Gurney Wharf.

    Even the sight of a fisherman’s boat will be as rare as seeing a Loch Ness.

    Ikan Panggan business will never be feasible as a low-cost start up.
    Only the Richie can run them with imported seafood & cheapo labor from Thailand or Acheh.

    Now you know why CATs don’t like the sea. But still love seafood at all costs (to Penangites & fisher folks)!

    • Kiam Hoo (salted fish) these days not cheap anymore. Also too much of it sodium content can cause cancer.
      Some say no worry as developers after no more to reclaim will be very creative to feed the need of fishes by turning into caged fish farmers.
      If Boon Siew Motors can become Boon Siew Developer (BSG), E&O Properties can next becoming E&O Fisheries importing fishes from elsewhere to feed Penang-langs.

      • Of course the type of Kiam Hu manufac by any corporation as per your halo-suggestion may most likely be full of chem-sodium,
        where got time + patience (of local fishermen) + moral concern (of CAP) for health to mass manufac E&O! Kiam Hu like Speedy Gonzales (as per brick & mortar building frenzy). Also, not cheap as these are GST added by halo-corporations!
        If no more land to reclaim, can take some time to answer environment horrors in the making & be prepared for law suits by Penangites!
        No need to be creative!

  6. Must listen to the people !

    Otherwise, those negatively affected must be very well compensated.

    Isn’t this what Social Democracy is all about ?

    • Compensations to fisher folks, no matter how well paid will never solve our food security problem in the future nor affordability of seafood for locals.
      A holisitic approach (of socio-economic-environmental-cultural) to development is still the way forward, sans all these unbelievable greed & recalcitrant + arrogant habits of corporate-political tango.
      If any vote is worth fishing by any sincere & caring politician, it is by way of putting the people’s interest first & foremost above any corporation.
      Don’t give the … excuse of job creation when the very recalcitrant act will extinct other existing jobs. Even a 9-lives politician won’t make it to 2.

    • why one sided? orang asli and asal for thousand times have their planting and hunting ground taken by loggers and oil palm planters and yet pg forum, tun lsng amd pua has keep s lip seal on their predictment!! big bully.


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