Tanjung Bungah landslide: Penang government, council must explain why DoE objection ignored

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The Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP), Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) and the Tanjung Bungah Residents Association (TBRA) are shocked to learn that the Penang state government and the Penang Island City Council have chosen to ignore the objection of the Department of Environment (DoE) for siting the development of the residential project in Lembah Permai, Tanjung Bungah.

The DoE had rejected the application for planning approval after taking into consideration that the development site is located close to a permanent granite quarry and as there was no buffer zone between the apartment project and the quarrying activities nearby, as required by the “Guidelines of Siting and Zoning of Industries and Residential Areas”.

In a statement released by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment on 22 October 2017, it stated that the area is therefore not a safe and peaceful environment for people to live in.

The state government and the city council must explain why they did not abide by recommendations of the DoE.

The One Stop Centre Committee of the city council comprises the mayor and technical agencies such as the DoE, the Public Works Department, the Draingage and Irrigation Department (JPS), the district and land office, etc. The council consults the technical agencies specialised bodies whether there are any objections to development.

The state government and the council in particular must explain the reasons for ignoring the DoE’s recommendation.

The DoE’s objection cannot be treated lightly as it is the department responsible for ensuring environmental safety.

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Given the DoE’s objection, the whole approval process for the project should be deemed not valid for not following the legal processes.

Further, the Penang Structure Plan has also been violated by the state authority and the city council.

According to the Structure Plan which has been gazetted and has legal force, the Tanjung Bungah area is designated as being in the ‘secondary corridor’. The Structure Plan further states that housing projects in the ‘secondary corridor’ cannot exceed 15 units per acre.

How such a housing project was allowed in the first place in violation of the Structure Plan must be investigated.

Clearly, a royal commission of inquiry must address these legal issues, and why the state authorities and the city council did not follow the law, the Structure Plan and the DoE guidelines and objections.

This is not merely a work-site tragedy. It is clearly related to hill land development and processes surrounding planning approvals and violations of the law.

The royal commission of inquiry must be comprehensive to ensure that all authorities responsible are held accountable, including the relevant government authorities from the chief minister to the city council to the developer and contractors responsible.

The DoE too should have been more proactive in taking action when the state government and the local authority ignored its recommendation. This is no small matter.

Furthermore, we urge the state, the city council and the developer to provide adequate compensation to the families of the victims who have perished in the tragedy.

The workers’ families can come to the CAP office for assistance if needed.

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In addition, purchasers of the units in the project should be entitled to full refunds, and the project should be stopped and not be allowed to carry on given the grave safety concerns.

Mohideen Abdul Kader,
Vice president of CAP and SAM council member

Meenakshi Raman
Chairperson of Tanjung Bungah Residents Association

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43 COMMENTS

  1. Why the environmentalists never complain about the quarrying activities at the hills?

    Could hilltop quarrying affect the slope stability at hill bottom?

    • Very good point. Ask ah pek. Ah peks in pg can be older than the quarry but why ah peks are silent on digging and blasting in the hills? Ah pek old and eyesight and ears not good to see and hear?

  2. They say it’s worksite accident
    https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2017/10/25/they-say-its-worksite-accident/

    Even though environment lobbyists, the media, civil organisations and the general public have repeatedly called on the state government to halt all hillslope and reclamation projects on long-term environment and living quality considerations, such pleas have unfortunately been muffled by the calls of developers’ greed.

    It appears that political and economic interests have far overridden safety and environmental considerations. And since politics is taking precedence in this whole matter and that the approval was granted by the political masters, the tragic incident had everything to do with politics!

    So, stop telling people not to politicise things! And please don’t tell us that the landslide was triggered by quarrying activities approved by the previous administration.

    The quarry has been in existence for over half a century and since they knew the hilltop quarry had been there for this long, why approved the project at the foot of it 50 years on?

    The tragedy was most definitely not a “worksite accident” but a consequence of the interplay of power and economic interests.

    The Penang state government still owes the public a genuine explanation and apology.

  3. The developer whose project is in question is also conducting its own post-mortem into the incident.

    Taman Sri Bunga Sdn Bhd director Alfred Chew Peng Boon said a full post-mortem was being conducted with a team of consultants to find out what caused the landslide.

    He said the well-known engineering firm Arup Jururunding Sdn Bhd (Penang), which also has an international presence, had also been appointed to come up with an independent assessment to determine what led to the landslide and to propose short- and long-term safety measures to ensure similar incidents would not recur.

  4. We are now seeing the ‘passing of the ball game’ – from MBPP > site accident > flat land > One Stop Centre Committee > DOE > no EIA required > who else?
    We will wait to see who catches the ball last.
    Now, who controls the ‘STOP’ music button (of this ball game)?
    Ramasamy?

    • See who is also help to pass the ball and tried to shot at the goal post when the referee, linesman and umpire has yet to be established.

      • Typical zoro! Why so scared to admit?
        Afraid your Komtar Dedak will cease for admiting trolling?
        What a waste of life creating useless ‘noise’.

    • I admit ah pek loves to blast without basis and relevant as to why the slope fails? Ah pek loves to blame authority when the work is done by the contractor and supervised by the Engineer. Like bus clash into another bus, why ah pek don’t blame transport minister?

  5. Hello, Penang Deputy Chief Minister II Dr P Ramasamy.
    You still think Penangites owe CAT Gomen a lifelong (more than 9-lives) vote of confidence???
    Quit your knee-jerking or face the inevitable very soon.

    Penang Forum to Ramasamy: Stop putting words in our mouth
    Read more at http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2017/10/24/penang-forum-to-ramasamy-stop-putting-words-in-our-mouth/#gHGdBCgswtPrSb2Z.99

    “We never called for political reform, and we never asked to throw them out,” Dr Lim told The Star.

    Dr Lim, who is a former city councilor, said that people who don’t listen can get voted out.

    “The reality is that politicians are voted in for a period of time to do work and serve the community.

    “If you don’t do the work, we have the right to criticise you. Stop putting words in our mouth,” he said.

    Dr Lim said that any “mature politician” should not “go berserk” at that statement.

    • Why close eyes when Qatar airlines is going to bring more Visitors? Overseas and mainland visitors must queue up to visit penang otherwise billions if visitors will destroy the environment. Follow China style to impose resident certificates and penang lang can have only one child policy? Population explosion like India and if ah pek wants to control, then follow China, Singapore or London to control number of cars. Can write letter to unesco but say nothing as to vast no of overseas and mainland visitors. Tell mainland visitors don’t bring cars over to pg and same with pg lang. Act like singland

  6. This is the first time, I’ve heard of the Penang Front Party and the Malaysian United Party but this is what Penang needs – a party of Penang people for Penang people which is neither for the BN or Pakatan.

    “GEORGE TOWN, Oct 24 — Two different political groups, the Penang Front Party (PFP) and Malaysian United Party (MU), lodged police reports against the Penang state government and the Penang Island City Council (MBPP) over the deadly landslide that killed 11 workers on October 11.”

    https://sg.news.yahoo.com/two-groups-lodge-reports-against-penang-city-council-061200480.html

    “He (Datuk Patrick Ooi) said the campaign slogan would be “Penang for Penang Lang” (Penang for the people of Penang) and that PFP was support neither Barisan Nasional (BN) nor Pakatan Harapan (PH).

    “PFP will focus on the welfare of the people and practise fairness and bring dignity to society,” he said in a press conference today.”

    http://www.thesundaily.my/news/2017/05/18/penang-front-party-revived-appointment-patrick-ooi-advisor

  7. This video has the Tanjung Bungah Residents Association saying that building density regulations under the Penang Master Plan were violated by both the previous BN state government and now the PAKATAN state government.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kvYnu8GtHZw

    So how different from the former BN state government is the present Pakatan state government?

    The Malay Mail online reports:-

    “Tanjung Bungah construction site tragedy should not be politicised — Zairil Khir Johari”

    Read more at http://www.themalaymailonline.com/what-you-think/article/tanjung-bungah-construction-site-tragedy-should-not-be-politicised-zairil-k#O4u0bvSKMUhYejm2.99

    Zaril Khir Joharu was quoted as saying: “The Penang state government does not allow any developments on hill land above 76 metres, while national guidelines set 300 metres as the limit.”

    Point taken but why allow development on hill land, especially when the residents and pro-environmental NGOs object?

    How about holding a state-wide referendum on development on hills and abide by the outcome of the referendum either way.

    That’s democracy, isn’t it?

    If the outcome of the referendum is to let Penang be screwed, then so be it. Penang gets screwed by greedy property developers.

    It looks like the property development industry is an important contributor to Malaysa’s and Penang’s GDP.

    Despite all the other much touted productive industries, such as electronics, manufacturing, information and communications technology, multimedia, biotechnology, nanotechnology, agriculture, oil & gas and so forth are unable to being in enough national and state revenue, so they must rely on revenue from construction.

    Very third world, isn’t this?

    • Pg has oil and gas? Without houses, where are tourists coming in millions due to Unesco status going to live? Pg lang younger generation lives in tree Top?

  8. Look how uncomfortable the Penang Local Government Committee Chairman is in this video and how he is trying to pass the buck.

    http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2017/10/24/penang-city-council-lodges-report-chow-state-govt-wants-matter-investigated-and-responsible-parties/

    Land is a state matters come under the jurisdiction of state governments in Malaysia, the Penang state government included.

    The Penang state government under BN was believed to have also allowed construction on hillslopes, ecological and environmental degradation and after the Pakatan victory in 2008, it was believed that the DAP-led Penang state government – a supposedly “democratic socialist” government believed to “stand for the people”, would put a stop to all this.

    However, now it has shown up its true colours – just like Syriza in Greece which held a referendum on whether to accept austerity demanded by the EU, World Bank and other supranational agencies and after about 60% of the people voted no, then caved in to pressure of these supranational agencies and implemented the austerity measures upon the Greek people anyway.

    If Penang were under the BN/Gerakan government right now, I am sure that the DAP would have been down amongst the residents associations and the environmental NGOs condemning all this damaging development and promising to put a stop to it if elected to run Penang.

    Now, nine years into being in the state government of Penang, damaging ‘development’ was allowed to continue and people of Penang have this.

    • Lucky you from border can go and live in development outside the commercial capital. PJ and surrounding was once a jungle and rubber plantation. KL was a cool place and unpolluted. But with PJ and Subang, KL becomes warmer and polluted and congested. Agree should not build houses and people should live live foreign workers in shacks.

  9. Let’s wait for more data.
    Whoever approved the project is nuts.
    Same goes to the bankers and insurers.
    Same goes for the buyers too . Aren’t they nuts for buying a property next to a rock quarry.
    And how are they (developer or whoever ) going to explain to the bereaving families ?

    • Just finished reading Lim GE ‘s statement.
      Not even an apology nor a simple sorry.
      11 human lives are gone.
      I know Lim is a terrible politician but a good administrator (up until now).
      In Japan, S.Korea and even in Taiwan their administrators would be making tonnes of apologies .And many of them offer to resign even when they are not involved or at fault.
      In Malaysia , our politicians (both BN and Pakatan) will come up with a thousand and one reasons to save their skin.

      Not asking nor demanding he to resign but at least a humble apology first.
      There is absolutely no need to ‘taichi” legality issue between DoE & EIA .
      Umno is as usual the ‘bangang” type, is DAP also as “bangang’ as Umno now?
      *My BM is not too good, me thinks “bangang” is similar to stubbornly stupid”

      • A Samurai would perform seppuku (a.k.a. harakiri).

        Don’t expect Malaysian politicians to be as honourable.

      • Now everyone is trying to use hillslopes to blame the approving authorities. But is the contractor follow the construction safety. Or the central gomen is still backwards? In other countries, professional engineer has to check and approve all temporary works just like scaffolding. Some bldg department even request excavation plan approval. From pic, it is already a 3 steep slope. But the contractor is cutting another slope for basement construction making a total of 4 steep slopes. Unlike normal slope, the slopes could be steeper as if it is temporary.
        Safety is often overlooked just like bus accidents in federal highway projects.

    • Don’t be so dumb. BN supporters are not as dumb as you are. We don’t have blame DAP SOP unlike yours. I hear you all Pakatoons have a choice of 4 templates. A. BlameBN B. BlameNajib C. BlameUMNO D. BlamePAS

  10. Q. to CAT Gomen in the holy name of Transparency:
    ARE THERE ANY OTHER PROJECT IN PENANG OBJECTED BY DOE but CAT approved it to go ahead, already in construction or completed & occupied by living residents.
    Please let the cats out of the Komtar Bag in the name of C.A.T. + proclaimed safety of Penangites.

    This is nothing to call for more rational, intellectual or humanist common sense.
    Anil, pls get to this uncertainty (of more of such DOE objected projects in Penang) which many of us are kept in the dark & may be living dangerously in one.
    There should be a law to punish state gomen for bluffing the people.

      • You obsessively love DAP too much not to differentiate what is disaster due to obvious reasons from responsible governance.
        I pity you if in future, any landslide disaster due to development befalls your loved ones.
        Pray to Deity for 9-lives to continue your luck (9 times) with Tokong.
        Btw, why the obvious change of entity from zoro to Shriek? Hard luck?

      • You are also obess and obese with umno. Laymen not understanding mechanics of failure will blame politics. Can you explain why slope fails? Ah pek cannot see slope can fail in low land. As long as there is a difference in ground level, slope can fail. Let geotech engineers do a back calculation.
        Again ah pek cannot bring facts and rubbish and calling names trying to blow water.

  11. DoE has only been given a small mandate and power to monitor hill slope development projects plus varify the over all situation subsequently come up with a proposal normally after some civil works has been done by the designated developer. Most housing developers will on consider the binding agreement with local council authority rather then with others especially DoE.

  12. As usual the State government starts to taichi this issue. Never admiting their mistakes of poor governance. So greedy of them to allow 50 stories block next to an unstable hillslope w/ a quarry. Wht more to this Crony-centric CAT regime. To their macais anything against BN is “Saving Malaysia” and anyone against Tokong co is ” termakan dedak”.
    NGO semua Najib dah beli!

    • As usual Penang lang will show anger, write poems, cry and #pray4whatever and scold DAP, then give LGE his second (or third) decade in office.
      Remember the dog massacre and the cancer factory. All forgiven by the Penanglang. Benci sangat Mahdey in the past but #forgivenforget and now #lovelovelove Madey.
      Fat chance Penanglang will let UMNO or PAS win.
      How to Save Penang? Save it from the Penanglang.

    • The landslide tragedy must be investigated thoroughly. Before the investigation report is submitted, do not jump into conclusion; and point fingers, hoping to capitalise the tragedy and score political points.

    • You are sure the hillslope is unstable but geology department said otherwise dealing with the quarry for half a century? MCA can build Tarc closer to quarry without problem

  13. The Penang Govt needs to clarify the following now:

    1) Is it true that the local council’s town planning committee had initially rejected the application?

    2) Is it true that the State Planning Committee then over-ruled the rejection and approved the project.

    3) Is the project approval based on a “special project” basis?

    4) Will the Penang Government release the minutes of the State Planning Committee meeting where this project was approved?

    • No accountability Jennifer Mourin. Just go to one end of Jalan Gajah which has access thru a very old kampung there and smack behind these kampung houses there is a 30 storey apt. Where got buffer or anything and these poor folks living there. Anyone can go and take a look!!

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