Stop short-sighted urban planning; improve flood resilience, says TBRA


The Tanjung Bunga Residents’ Association (TBRA) is once again calling for the state to halt all short-sighted and patchy urban planning that continues to cause more flooded homes, uprooted trees, and power cuts, making travel inconvenient.

TBRA wants the state to relook at all its urban and sub-urban development projects to see how it can improve the state’s ability to resist and absorb floods. Flood resilience should be a matter of intense and consistent focus by the government in light of the worsening flood conditions in Penang.

Yesterday’s storm hobbled the city’s infrastructure by nightfall, downing power in a number of areas and blocking roads. This happened despite the best efforts of the state and millions of ringgit invested in flood mitigation projects over the years.

Penangites continue to suffer repeated flooding primarily in low lying areas and are now facing new areas of flooding following developments on and near hill slopes. Residents must consistently struggle to replace lost belongings and pay for repairs to their homes and vehicles.

We therefore urge the state to develop a holistic flood prevention and mitigation initiative and to stop leaving crucial work like this principally in the hands of developers.

Penangites have seen how poor urban planning has resulted in the recent fatal landslide and today’s (5 November) sinkhole that tore up a road in front a new luxury development in Tanjung Bunga.

Both were cut into the hills which are known to be watershed areas.

These two projects had major accidents despite having been developed, approved and monitored by qualified experts.

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By cutting into the hills, developers can claim to build on “flat land”, but even without heavy rain, the build-up pressure of the water most likely caused the landslide on 21 October.

Developers know this risk but profit pressure closes their eyes. Their luck is running out.
These are no longer isolated incidents and the residents of Penang will no longer be silent.

Clearly there has been a failure in hasty and risky development and we hope the state can employ qualified experts to help them draw up a checklist for all dangers surrounding high-rise construction as well as develop a comprehensive flood prevention plan.

Tropical storms are an annual affair, and their impact in the form of economic losses could well be more frequent and greater in the near future.

Penang must be prepared.

Agnes James is vice-chair of the Tanjung Bungah Residents Association.

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  1. An open letter to Penang folk who want their pound of flesh:

    The bottom line for all Penang folk are the following considerations:

    (a) For owners and tenants of these detached/semi-detached houses: “Will you give up your pound of flesh in the face of public demand supported by a willingness to pay?”

    (b) For those not owning or staying in detached/semi-detached houses in low-density neighbourhoods: “Will you fund the local and state government’s acquisition so that you can keep the sea and hills as your pound of flesh?”

  2. Natural Resources and Environment Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said that RM1.04 billion has been spent by the federal government on flood mitigation projects in Penang since 2006. This is less than half the RM2.57 billion approved to be spent by 2020.

    On Tuesday, Prime Minister Najib Razak said RM150 million has been approved for disbursement but Mr Lim clarified that this sum was from last year’s (2016) allocation, adding that no new funds have been channelled by the federal government for 2018 onwards. Penang state has set aside another RM150mil for flood mitigation projects in 2017.

    “We realised that we can’t wait for the federal government,” said Mr Chow Kon Yeow, Penang’s state executive councillor for local government, traffic management and flood mitigation on Wednesday.

    River works, such as reinforcing bunds, are another flood prevention measure. However, these fall under the federal government’s purview.

    “The most effective (flood prevention) is a barrage like what Singapore has, but it’s a very costly project,” Mr Chow said.

  3. DAP’s Teh Lai Heng said stopping hill land and slope development as well as land reclamations projects will cause property on Penang island to become even more expensive.

    The Komtar rep said it was reported in 2012 there was only about 17% of land available on the island for housing and commercial development.

    “If development on hill land and slopes and land reclamation projects are to be stopped, there will be very little land left to develop.

    “Property on the island will become very expensive. Can the people still afford to own property?” he said in his speech to debate the state’s Budget 2018 at the state legislative assembly this afternoon.

      • If cannot afford and cheap places are available elsewhere why pg lang don’t flock there? If rich cannot afford, let there buy. Just like tourists. Not only backpackers in rumah tumpangan but well do ones. Better those come in cruise ships

    • How many properties sold are now occupied? Mr Teh???
      If you claim that properties on Penang Island will become more expensive without hill land + slope development, then the lives of Penangites affected by such development are considered ‘cheap’ vis-a-vis the high risks of such development.
      Is CAT Gomen prepared to compensate all hill land + slope calamities including muddy floods of homes + loss of lives.
      Mr Teh, pls go stay @ the old folks home in Jalan P. Ramlee & wait for the next wave of flood to come & be brave enough to stay put in bed while the flood water continue to rise above 5 feet.
      We don’t have exactly 9 lives like a Komtar cat to fool around with the hills.

    • The property price will come down hard once massive flooding occur frequently due to overdevelopment … in the end even if firesale also no buyer because who would want to buy a property in a flood prone area ?

      Massive flooding needs to happen only once to destroy lifetime worth of works and belongings, if occur more than once can cause massive bankruptcy also .

      So it’s suicidal for the state and the developers to continue to develop nonstop without coming up with effective flood mitigation that can solve frequent flooding in the state because In the end the frequent floods will drive ppl away from the island.

    • Tanjung Bungah folks should not complain too much as it could cause devaluation of their properties due to adverse comments.

      • Is it better for them to suffer in silent which can cause the devaluation of their very own well being ?

    • If want to consider 300mm of rainfall, then pay more. Also more land is required. Many heritage houses may be required and give way. Bridges become long. Again pay more. Pay more, then more will said DAP, developer party and more clearing for larger drain. Agree to pay more?

      • In other word the state and the developers in penang only want to develop but don’t care to make sure proper and effective drainage system come with it . They are the one who caused the overdevelopment that led to frequent floodings , yet want rakyat to pay to solve the problem… is it fair and good governance to do that ?

      • is please go to Iskandar Johor and see that the stretch of beaches facing Singapore are now being reclaimed for condos. Latest being Lido Beach opposite Hospital Besar Aminah by Tropicana.

  4. So quick to approve housing projects in the multitude, but when disasters strike such as this mega or mother of all flooding in Penang, where are the MBPP trucks to clean up the slippery + dangerous mud lying along the roads? Not to mention the thrown away mattresses, furnitures, foodstuffs & rubbish.
    Since Saturday>Sunday of sleepless night, the flood mud is still everywhere.
    My in-laws whose houses were flooded have to clean up the thickly muddied road in front.
    How to wait for MBPP trucks to come when every gingerly step on the thick mud is courting a slippery fall?

    Go to Trengganu Road, you can see truckloads of Malaysian soldiers helping to distribute foodstuffs & aids to the affected victims of Sunday flood. Where art thou, MBPP???

    • Ah pek can’t see giving out food take how long and is a very heavy task? But to clean is tedious and takes a long time. Why not army engineers and trucks come scoop up the dirt?

    • Even in normal times, cleaning drains means that foreigners dump the debris they recover close to the drain. It soon goes back in. There are no supervision because the tuans are too secure. In fact, this applies to major construction projects too. They are rewarded at luxury restaraunts, night clubs, etc.

      • It is a common sight in Malaysian towns/cities where the rubbishes (mostly fallen leaves) collected on roadsides are dumped straight into the adjacent drains.

      • We have roadside hawkers doing their washing beside roadside drains. Yet lim kopi and Ho jiak comes first. Okay in tunglang young ones by cliff but not now when population multiply a few fold.


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