It’s not about ‘compensation’: Creative, colourful fishermen’s protest has changed the dynamics


The fishermen’s march to Parliament on 11 July was something to behold.

No longer could the voices of these folks, often unheard, be ignored.

This was no ordinary protest.

The creative talents – colourful banners, drummers, lively chants and gimmicks (pouring sand into fisherment’s rice basins) – made this demonstration a unique multi-ethnic effort in the new Malaysia. A couple of hundred fishermen, representing the 10,000 fishermen in Penang and Perak, were supported by a cast of artists, NGO activists, environmentalists, youth concerned about climate change – even a troupe of female drummers. So there was no chance for Umno and Pas to use this issue for their own purposes.

The cries of “Penang (and Perak) Tolak Tambak!” have shaken up the establishment and catapulted their cause, backed by tens of thousands in an online petition, to national attention.

The protest has made many ordinary folks pause and reflect on what constitutes real and sustainable development – essential fish supplies or land reclamation to profit big developers and contractors and others backing them. Do we really value a misguided notion of ‘development’ (which, in this case, is short-sighted, unsustainable development) over our long-term food security – think of your affordable local wild fish – and natural heritage?

Early signs are that is has exposed the rifts within Pakatan Harapan and even intra-party divisions over this issue.

Today, Anwar Ibrahim is expected to address hundreds of fishermen, PKR members and others at Teluk Kumbar. He can expect to see first-hand the deep unhappiness among the fishermen there. He will see Penang Tolak Tambak flags and banners blanketing the place around the meeting point.

Ahead of the fishermen’s rally, in what was obviously a propaganda video to counter the growing groundswell against the reclamation, a retired academic was trotted out to say that the present fishing waters to be destroyed by reclamation was an insignificant fisheries zone with hardly any fishermen. Tellingly, the video did not interview any real fisherman who rely on the coastal waters for their livelihoods.

Then came the fishermen’s protest, which has rocked the establishment, unnerved government leaders and given the fishermen, backed by many ordinary people, a new sense of the power of their collective strength.

The Penang state government and others were caught off-guard by the sheer tenacity of the protesters who marched to Parliament. State government leaders responded in the only way they know how how: offering $$$ – saying they were was prepared to seriously negotiate with fishermen over the compensation. That is the only language they know when confronted by public outrage over their outlandish plans that would benefit a group of developers and contractors the most: $$$ and “mitigation measures”.

A classic case of divide-and-rule, carrot and stick. If you come forward, you get some small compensation; if you don’t, you lose your fishing waters, your livelihoods; everything.

As if a price tag could be put on the loss of a priceless fisheries zone, the loss of tranquil coastal waters that provide fresh local wild fish, increasingly scarce, to the local people at affordable prices. Fished sustainably in coastal waters.

But what the project proponents with their slick corporate media propaganda and mainstream media ties didn’t bargain for is a new sense of determination and solidarity among the fishing community in the south.

The way I see it, the fishermen are not about to surrender meekly and lose their livelihoods and way of life. They are unlikely to fall for all the old tricks.

The struggle is far from over.

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Chuah cl

Do you think only the fishermen will be affected by the PSR reclamation? NO! All of us will be paying for much costlier seafood! The supposedly money for Penang traffic masterplan (pump) from this reclamation with result in Debt Trap for generations. Any sensible professional will not propose 1 LRT line and 2 monorail lines ,all not inter connected! So if ptmp goes thru we will have 3 sets of deposit, 3 teams of maintenance crew, 3 sets of spare parts n 3 sets of spare running stocks(in case of breakdowns). How about the 1st n last mile connections? How… Read more »


did i see a greedy seafood lover here….? ya…seafood is heavenly priced, because seafood get you to heaven in no time…..hehe, better switch to vegetarian and save our ocean…hypocrite


Wake up. If LKY think of that, peng land kias will not go down to work there. Look at the lost of productivity and amount of fuel burning in the jam and peng land will contribute 0.5% of global warming. More traffic, increase in accidents and more loss in productivity. If build later, more havoc and more expensive as things are getting more dense. You want to be like HK, NY when they are building another transport system.


The sane thing orso applies to mas and as. Worst if anything happen how to do repairs in the sky. Base on your reasonings, they must have standby parts and maintenance crew.


Sounds like the original two LRT lines and the monorail in the Klang Valley. At first, they were built and operated by different private consortia and passengers on the Putra Line had to exit at Masjid Jamek station, enter the STAR line LRT station, buy a new ticket and travel. Ditto with transfer between the Putra LRT line at KL Sentral and the monorial station on Jalan Tun Sambanthan which was a bit of a walk away. Now that they are all operated by Prasrana, ease of interconnectivity has been improved a bit, with long walkways between stations and transfer… Read more »


Why not the state government hold a Penang island wide referendum, accept the result and abide by it.


It’s good that the fishermen and their supporters of different ethnicities stood up to this reclamation project to defend their livelihoods against the self-interested developers.

Solidarity with and victory to the fishermen and people of Penang.


When motorists, those taking buses orso cone out and demand for better roads and transport. Ban cars from wilayah and Selangor from crossing the Penang bridge to reduce the road congestion?


Well, where are the counter protests by motorists and bus users in favour of the reclamation and the PIL?

If there are people who feel this way, then speak up or forever keep their peace.


what a load of crab, you mean the fisherman not “self-interested”? the tree hugger not “self-interested” ?


Oh yes. It’s a conflict of interest between parties with contradictory interests, or what’s called a class contradiction.

On one side are people struggling to survive and defend their livelihood and on the other are capitalists out to make money and get even richer.

I’m with the people – well the fishermen in this case.


Why discriminate? Your traits? Reclamation in johor, you bodek because of biggie shot is over there. But in Penang alot of noise because you are like PASs wants to bully other race party.


No Money, No Talk.
Wanna Talk, Sell Your Souls. Even Your Mothers!
The Mother of Penang’s south coastal haven of perpetual wild fishes is not for selling to or bargain by greedy idiots who have no qualms to sell their own mothers!

Anwar Ibrahim. Today is your day to prove to all Malaysians that Malaysia Baru is all about the people’s future & not about making more money by a few in cohort with those in power. Karma is watching.


The land reclamation seems senseless. What would be the cost of reclaimed land for a factory, business of house? Why would anyone want to set up shop there, instead of in Prai or Kedah? This is not just a matter of “more expensive fish”. It will be poisoned – by the many drains bringing uncontrolled effluents. In fact the ENTIRE SEA is already poisoned. Even the Orang Asli in the interior are dying from manganese poisoning – called “measles”. Wow! This is Bolehland “development”. So what are you going to do? Buy bottled water? Wear a dust mast to protect… Read more »


As tulang to shift to mainland. He will said what a madness same with NGOs. In peng land TuLang like Cindy lauper. Men orso can have fun otherwise so bored without any news. Only can have malau as friends alto play around.


Penang Tolak Tambak goes to Parliament, 11 July 2019

On 11 July, about 400 people attended Penang Tolak Tambak’s protest in Parliament. It is the first time in history that Malaysian fishermen — 120 from Penang and 80 from Perak — marched to Parliament. The Sungai Tiram mosque sent 1 bus in solidarity with the nelayan (fishermen) and 1 bus of people, mostly NGOs from Penang and Taiping, joined the march.
Here is the news coverage:

Gabby Benson

Seafood so expensive. Sotong almost RM30 a kilo. Why so? Too much plastic dumping killing off marine life.

Btw condos in Penang fire sale on the way. Those who got trapped dont blame sotong too expensive.


From Singapore farms to Michelin restaurants:

Could learn here, less dependance on foid import.


good that that someone who can’t wait to be pm to also look at the state of traffic gridlock in Penang, maybe give an address on how to finance them as well perhaps…hehe


If only the fishermen could be more creative in having better technics to ensure bigger haul of fish with each outing to the open sea, away from the neighbouring waters!


Why not you become a deep sea fisherman in Indian Ocean? Set an example by the DAPCAT gomen sponsoring you a bigger boat than any in Penang!


Talk big. Why not stop using cars and walk or bike so that the air will be cleaner, globe cooler and less heated up. Cat gomen no need to think about pmtp. Pmtp is result of you using cars especially 4wds.


You always think of gomen help? Dr M told you to look east like japs hunting whales…?


What had happened to the Malaysia International Tuna Port at Batu Maung?

Deep sea tuna fishing?


2 news items in recent days.. fish bomb…..tourist diver killed by fish bomb….greed is everywhere , not only among the rich….it is also within the so called “weak” community, the bombastic fisherman, it is also within NGOs who are so greedy that they force everybody to succumb to their argument as if everybody else is either evil or dumb.. layoff…..UEM is laying off 200 employee..both Singapore and south korea has also just reported contraction in their economy…more layoff will be imminent.great news now these workers can go ask for jobs from the loud mouth NGOs….see if they can feed them… Read more »