A press conference in Park Royal Hotel in Batu Ferringhi to express concern about a high-rise housing project near a low-density low-rise neighbourhood was disrupted by a rowdy group using rough language this evening.
The press conference was organised by several Batu Ferringhi residents, mainly those who had settled there under the MM2H and Talent Corp schemes. Representatives of the Tanjung Bunga Residents Association were also invited to the press conference.
The aggressive and belligerent intruders claimed somewhat incoherently that the organisers wanted to demolish a Hindu temple. According to one eye-witness, the rowdy group chased everyone out and told them to go back to their own countries. “Ini tanah Malaysia,” they said.
Hotel security contacted the police, who then evicted the intruders. The organisers were unsure of the affiliation of those who disrupted the press conference.
The project in question is Orientside Development.
These are a couple of the high-rise towers the residents are worried about:
The residents were not aware that such a higher-density project would be built so close by when they bought property in the quiet neighbourhood. Several of the residents now want to leave Malaysia while others could follow suit if they can sell their properties. Some may have already gone to Bali or Thailand. Those that have gone back to Europe are unlikely to recommend this place to their friends.
In the Penang Structure Plan, Batu Ferringhi is supposed to be in the “secondary corridor” i.e. low density (15 units per acre); so some are wondering how this higher density project could even be contemplated. The affected residents were told that the new project nearby would be 30 units/acre. Is this correct? Has Batu Ferringhi now become a “primary corridor” – and how did this come about?
The problem is compounded in the absence of the Penang Island Local Plan, which though approved in 2008 has not yet been gazetted. Without a Local Plan in force, most developers are now asking for the maximum density they can get. But can the supporting infrastructure – roads, sewage treatment systems, utilities – cope with the additional load?
One observer felt it was ridiculous to expect the residents to sort this out with the developer; isn’t this the job of the state planner?