Penang Forum is concerned to hear about extensive ‘redevelopment’ plans for Pulau Jerejak, a prized natural asset and green lung for the state.
It was only in May that Penang state exco member Phee Boon Poh had reportedly assured the public that Pulau Jerejak would be gazetted as a permanent forest reserve.
Tropical Island Resort Sdn Bhd (TIRSB) has reportedly entered into a joint-venture agreement with Q Islands Development Sdn Bhd (QID)to redevelop the Jerejak Rainforest Resort & Spa and the 80 acres of land owned by TIRSB on the 895-acre island. Q Islands Development Sdn Bhd is reportedly a subsidiary of Ideal Property Group.
Ideal Property is currently involved in the RM2.2bn Queens Waterfront project (near Queensbay Mall facing Pulau Jerejak) on a 36.5-acre site (including 25 acres of land presently being reclaimed). Ideal Property also holds a 20 per cent stake in SRS Consortium, which has come up with a RM46bn transport infrastructure proposal for Penang.
TIRSB, a 51:49 joint-venture between UDA Holdings Bhd and PDC, had previously appointed a firm to manage the resort from 2004 until the resort closed in May 2016. Uda will eventually control 100 per cent of TIRSB.
Under the new joint venture agreement with QID, the operations of the resort will be handed over to QID, the subsidiary of Ideal Property. The state government must be accountable and explain how Ideal Property has come into this agreement to ‘redevelop’ Pulau Jerejak.
We take issue with the state Town and Country Planning Department (JPBD) for including several representatives from Ideal Property and Gamuda (both parties in SRS Consortium) in a 27 June planning workshop to review and streamline the draft Penang Island Local Plan. Why were they included? What about public participation in the review process?
The redevelopment masterplan, reportedly approved by the state government, includes luxury hotels, a bridge linking Pulau Jerejak to the main island, 1,200 homes, a marina, a theme park and an 11.5km round-island cycling track.
Given the pledge to gazette the island as a permanent forest reserve, we are shocked to hear about this extensive ‘redevelopment’ for the following reasons:
The public should have been consulted before the agreement for such a mega project was signed. When was this done?
Shouldn’t there be a detailed environmental impact assessment for an area of this magnitude (80 acres)? Where is it? Who carried out the study? Was it put on public display?
Is this development proposal in conformity with the gazetted Penang Structure Plan, which is the legal planning blueprint currently in force? If it is not, it may be challenged in court.
If PDC is exiting the deal, this would be another case of handing over a public asset, part of The Commons, to private interests to reap huge profits. Why are we surrendering such a natural treasure?
In any case, do we really need more luxury hotels and expensive homes in Penang at a time when the high-end property market is slowing and experiencing an oversupply?
Save Pulau Jerejak; preserve it as a green lung for Penang.
Penang Forum steering committee
9 November 2016