The Penang Hills Watch (PHW) initiative of Penang Forum (PF) has submitted its maiden report on hill-clearing cases in Penang to the state government. The report, submitted on 2 January 2017, covers cases and complaints that PHW has tracked over the past few months.

Last week, Penang Forum, State Executive Councillor for Local Government, Traffic Management and Environment YB Chow Kon Yeow and MBPP Director of Engineering Ir Addnan Mohd Razali discussed details of these cases during a closed-door meeting.

Penang Forum representative Rexy Prakash Chacko said that there are currently 126 documented reports on the PHW page out of which 86 were from the state government’s own records and 40 from the public. Of these, 29 public reports were submitted to the state government as others had been verified independently by the state government.

While the scope of PHW includes the whole of Penang state, all the reports received were from the island and centred on the middle belt of the island’s hills. The report zoned the island into three separate regions. Cases from each region detail the location, its geo tag and a photo of the clearing activity to help in investigations. Cases of hill clearing activity documented include both those for agricultural purposes and hill-slope development.

In its reply to the PHW report, the Penang state government clarified that out of the 29 cases documented by PHW, 14 were legally permitted land works, nine were illegal clearing activities, one was a case of natural slope failure and a further five are under investigation with other relevant departments. The nine cases of illegal clearing have been issued stop work orders or are being followed up by court action.

The cases are as shown in the table below:

Cases

Number

State government action

Approved legal

14

Monitoring

Illegal

9

Stop work order/Court action

Natural slope failure

1

Notice sent

Under investigation

5

Pending

Total

29

Rexy commended the Penang state government’s concern and transparency in responding to the PHW report. He added that the nine cases of illegal clearing which were documented have to be followed closely and if necessary, mitigation action taken to rehabilitate these areas. As for the cases which are legally permitted, it would be good that they adhere strictly to relevant state laws with regard to land work and drainage.

Penang Forum sincerely hopes that in line with the state’s initiative for a “Cleaner and Greener Penang”, the submission of this report and subsequent PHW reports will help the state government track hill-clearing in Penang and enable close cooperation between the state government and civil society in tackling one of Penang’s most troubling issues.

About Penang Hills Watch

Launched in October 2016, Penang Hills Watch (PHW) is a citizens-oriented initiative to provide an information platform for keeping watch on activities affecting the hills of Penang.

The public can view and download the submitted PHW report as well as the response from the state government, at the Penang Hills Watch Facebook page (@PenangHillsWatch) or the Penang Forum website and see them interactively on a map at the Penang Hills Watch page.

Reports of hill-clearing can be submitted via WhatsApp to the PHW hotline at +6011-51274277, via email (pghillswatch@gmail.com) or through its Facebook page (@PenangHillsWatch).

Relevant documents and information

1. Penang Hills Watch Report 2016

2. The state government’s summary of the 29 cases highlighted by PHW:

RUMUSAN LAPORAN TINDAKAN BERKAITAN ADUAN DARI PENANG HILLS WATCH 2016

BIL.

KES ADUAN

BILANGAN

TINDAKAN MBPP

1.

KERJA TANAH ADA KELULUSAN

14

KERJA TANAH DALAM PEMANTAUAN

2.

KERJA TANAH TANPA KELULUSAN MBPP

9

NOTIS BERHENTI KERJA/ TINDAKAN UNDANG-UNDANG

3.

HAKISAN CERUN (SLOPE FAILURE) & TANAH RUNTUH

1

NOTIS KACAUGANGGU/MITIGASI

4.

KERJA TANAH YANG DIJALANKAN DI ATAS TANAH MILIK KERAJAAN

3

SURAT PEMBERITAHUAN/ RUJUK JABATAN BERKAITAN- JKR/DO/PTG

5.

KERJA TANAH – PROJEK MBPP

1

KERJA TANAH DALAM PEMANTAUAN/TINDAKAN MBPP

6.

KERJA-KERJA KUARI

1

BIDANGKUASA PTG

JUMLAH ADUAN

29

3. The state government’s detailed response to the 29 cases

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19 COMMENTS

  1. Singapore’s land-based high-tech fish farm in Brunei.
    Penang government can consider collaborating with Singapore on this.
    http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/local-firms-brunei-fish-farm-to-help-boost-food-security

    In a boost for Singapore’s food security, local company Apollo Aquaculture Group will be setting up a high-tech farm in Brunei in a joint venture.

    Mr Eric Ng, 44, group chief executive officer of Apollo Aquaculture Group, said the vertical fish-farming system will be remotely controlled and monitored from Apollo Aqua- culture’s farm in Singapore.

    With underwater sensors to measure parameters like temperature and salinity, the need for manpower is reduced and workers can respond to emergencies quickly, he said.

    Noting that the yearly output of fish is eventually expected to reach 5,000 tonnes per year, Mr Ng said the farm will produce fish for consumption, such as groupers, as well as ornamental fish.

    The joint venture between Apollo Aquaculture and a Bruneian partner – KR Apollo – was announced yesterday at a groundbreaking ceremony at the new farm in Brunei.

    • Our government must emulate Singapore in such venture since the fish stock in the open sea is dwindling due to overfishing. Also unlikely for young generation to take the hazardous career as fishermen.

      Even Australia is having salmon farming in Tasmania. Check YouTube for details.

  2. Are you falling for the Niao Kong’s penchant for playing on emo-fever every time it’s hit by a challenge or a threat?
    The “I Love Penang” campaign will definitely be a hit b’cos there are those ready emo-knee-jerk of Jerks ready to do Niao Kong’s bidding. More than 3 red joss sticks!

    Why not be a more precise, thick faced & truthful campaign with slogans like these:

    “I Love Penang – Desired by Many, Possessed by A Few”

    “I Love Botak-ed Penang”

    “I Love Penang of Tunnels & Flying Highways”

    “I Love Cost-More-Politan Penang”

    “I Love 3+1 Penang Islands”

    “I Love, I Love Not Cleaner + Greener Penang”

    “I Love LGE’s Penang”

    Now, “Heng, Ong, Huat”? What a trite! Everyday’s a Yee Sang?

  3. Penang Forum should be mindful that Umno plans to make Penang a federal territory. Not sure if Penang people could be swayed by BN with promise of restoration of free port with duty free status?

    • Indeed this is a critical matter Penang Forum must look into.
      Penang becoming a FT will mean more damage from BN.
      Prevention is cure.

      • Why dedak like tun lang and engineer remains quiet and supportive to taking over by FT? The minister wants to build more houses.

      • You .. always spin with it. What so grand and pros about federal status? You pay for mayor and minster and yet you have no right to elect the person. You love the federal status because the officers are riding … horses and they can only patrol lake gardens. Dedak is you who really needs to catch up. Why no mention of trams or lrts if pg becomes a federal?

      • Is KL housing really cheaper that Penang? A combined household income of RM8000.00 per month cannot even afford an apartment of 1000 sq ft within FT KL, it can only be in Selangor.

        Since Ku Nan claims to champion the cause of Malays, and if KL homes is so affordable, tell us the proportion of Malays families that can afford reasonable housing within FT KL?

        Readers should not confuse FT KL with Selangor.
        If not Penang islanders can live on mainland for lower housing costs and commute to work to the island daily.

      • The Penang government’s policies had allowed 20,887 affordable housing units to be built since 2008 with another 65,796 units to be built over the next 10 to 15 years.

        State exco member in charge of housing Jagdeep Singh Deo said that in contrast, not a single affordable home under Putrajaya’s PR1MA and PPA1M housing scheme has been built in the state.

        http://m.malaysiakini.com/news/371548

      • Bukit Gelugor MP Ramkarpal Singh has called on FT minister Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor to explain his “Malays neglected in Penang” remark to the police.

      • Bukit Gelugor MP Ramkarpal Singh has called on FT minister Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor to explain his “Malays neglected in Penang” remark to the police.

    • Anil you can raise more fund to sustain your justice blog by offering readers your version of “I Love Penang” on the front of T Shirts, can sell for RM30.
      At the back of the shirts you can print various statements you champion.

      • “I Love Penang” will be a hit to counter the FT move by Umno. The back of the T-shirt can have the “Heng, Ong, Huat” slogan.

    • Let’s be honest:
      CAT came & many Penangites have to emigrate to SP (Kedah) & mainland to make room for the rich + famous. Just ask Kee.
      If Penang is made a FT, CAT has to emigrate (back to Melaka?).

      We don’t have 9-lives to x-periment (any further) after what we have x-perimented with Niao Kong.
      Let the majority Penangites (who cannot afford Cosmopolitan Penang Frenzied) decide the future.
      No need for any donkey ride of drunken sensibilities & high-end worshipping.

    • Ku Nan, why not turn the whole Msia into a FT, then everyone will be better off? We can also save money on elections. This brainless chap has highlighted the fact denying Penang voters the right to vote for their govt is as evil a plan as denying KL voters the right the same right. so instead of turning Penang into yet another useless FT, pls give KLback to us. It will be good riddance to your useless ministry.

  4. We won’t shelve cable car project, says Penang executive councillor
    https://sg.news.yahoo.com/wont-shelve-cable-car-project-040525142.html

    Still trying to play the blame game in order to push thro’ this cable car project?
    Then don’t sing “Cleaner & Greener Penang” to hoodwink us Penangites.
    We propose a more suitable job for you: Beijing Opera of One Thousand Face Change.

    Pls be more responsible & brave (for UBAH) to be a good politician or councillor!

    • Dedak does not realise federal has even grander plan development like inter hills cable cars in store before losing out.

  5. Don’t kill peace and tranquility for tourist dollars, says SAM
    https://sg.news.yahoo.com/dont-kill-peace-tranquility-tourist-083526552.html

    GEORGE TOWN: The proposed cable car linking Penang Hill, Botanical Gardens and Teluk Bahang should be scrapped at all costs, a leading environmental group says.

    Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) objected to the proposal as it said the plan would have a devastating impact, resulting in a change in the hill’s atmosphere and surroundings.

    The cable car plan, estimated to cost RM325 million, will consist of a line linking the Penang Botanical Gardens and Penang Hill, and another line linking Teluk Bahang in the northwestern part of the island.

    SAM president S.M. Mohamed Idris said the group did not agree with the Tourism and Culture Ministry’s claim that the return on investment (ROI) for the project was justified as there was a need to bring in more tourists.

    He said the current number of visitors to the hill had exceeded its carrying capacity. It was reported that in 2008, more than 200,000 people visited the hill but, now, the number has jumped to 1.6 million.

    “The priority is to conserve Penang’s natural charm and heritage. The tourists that the authorities are trying to attract will be revolted by the destruction caused by maldevelopment and overdevelopment.

    “Hence, SAM reiterates its call to the federal and state governments to scrap the proposed cable car project,” he told the New Straits Times.

    Idris said the owner of the proposed cable car was likely to have commercial interests and high profits as the top priority.

    “Thus, the developer will attempt to maximise the number of people who will use the cable car to earn high profits from the investment.

    “The inherent logic of maximising the number of people who will use the cable car
    will lead to too many people on the hill, thus exceeding its carrying capacity, thereby contributing to severe environmental degradation.”

    To attract more people to use the cable car, there would be increased pressure from the developer to allow more projects on the hill, thus compounding the problem.

    He said there was a limit to the development and the number of visitors that Penang Hill could sustain.

    “A high volume of visitors will not only degrade the environment but will also change its ambience.

    “Peace, quiet and tranquility will give way to a highly commercialised atmosphere.”

    Idris also noted that Penang Hill was an important water catchment area and part of its lush forests comprised protected reserves.

    “Almost half of Penang Hill, or 210.07ha, has been gazetted as a water catchment area (Penang Hill Special Area Plan, 2013).

    “In a fragile hill environment, any attempt to upset the delicate ecological balance is a mistake and the consequences will be costly in the long run,” he said.

    He added that if limited access helped to maintain the functions of the hill as a water catchment area and other special characteristics of Penang Hill, then that constraint need not be seen in a negative light but as having a positive function.

    He said the cable car plan would have an adverse environmental impact as it involved erecting huge pylons and constructing towers and stations that would destroy flora and fauna, and impair forests, hills and valleys.

    He also noted the traffic congestion and parking facilities at the ground stations.

    Idris said the Penang Botanical Gardens was already congested and that Teluk Bahang’s peace and charm would be affected, too.

    “The Botanical Gardens is a unique and valuable place that is a precious treasure to Penang and Penangites. It was described long ago ‘the loveliest place in Malaya’.

    “It is the only or one of the only botanical gardens to be located in the foothills of primary tropical forests, which are the oldest in the world,” he said, noting that thousands visited the Gardens daily to enjoy its natural environment, to exercise and to
    have family and community gatherings.

    By locating the ground station at the Gardens or its vicinity, he said, the cable car would destroy its tranquil atmosphere, natural surroundings and charm as thousands of people converged there.

    Commercial activities, food stalls and retail shops would increase, apart from the large area needed to house the cable car station and its administration, he added.

    “Thus, the proposed cable car will destroy not only the natural environment of Penang Hill but the Botanical Gardens as well, two of the most important components of the heritage of Penang that gave it the name ‘Pearl of the Orient’.”

    Tourism development on Penang Hill, Idris pointed out, was an incongruous development for a natural sanctuary, which required peace and tranquility, not commercialisation, crowds and tourist dollars.

    “As it is, Penang Hill is overrun by tourists. The Botanical Gardens is a valuable and fragile ecosystem that needs to be preserved.

    “We do not need, or want, the cable car and all the innate problems that will follow.”

    © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd

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