Civil society groups in Penang – Penang Forum (of which Aliran is part), the Consumers Association of Penang, Sahabat Alam Malaysia, and residents groups as well as environmental group Peka – turned up in full force at a packed press conference this morning to call for an end to all hill-slope development.
They also called for a wide-ranging royal commission of inquiry that would cover the approval process right from the top – and not simply an inquiry limited to work-site safety.
At the press conference at the CAP office, Penang Forum representatives said its Penang Hills Watch initiative had highlighted 29 cases in its first report to the state government in January 2017. The first of the 29 cases (case number one) was the site of the landslide yesterday. The state government then responded on 26 January that “earthwork is being monitored” at the site.
On 3 April 2017, Penang Hills Watch submitted its second report to the state government listing more cases. The second report also followed up on the 29 cases (including case number one) mentioned in the first report:
Referring to case number one among others, the second report read: “… we hope MBPP inspects and ensures that safety requirements such as providing buffer zones… are adhered to.”
Read the Penang Forum statement: Another call to stop all hill-slope development immediately
Read also the Aliran statement: The price of hill-slope development
Penang Forum also called for the names of all the workers who perished to be published and their status (whether documented, undocumented or stateless), whether they were insured, as well as all the other major players behind this tragedy, including those who had granted approvals for the project and its various stages.
Representatives from the Sungai Ara residents group expressed their worry over another massive hill-slope project in their area which they said exceeded all the thresholds.
Meanwhile, who will take responsibility and resign over this affair? (Yes, that’s what they do in other countries.)
Of course, journalists from many of the BN-controlled media were also present at today’s press conference. Will they report as enthusiastically about environmental problems in the BN-controlled states – like the deforestation in Sarawak, for instance?