The ‘super-efficient’ Department of the Environment has hurriedly given a conditional approval for the detailed Environmental Impact Assessment for a massive 891-acre land reclamation project under Seri Tanjung Pinang Phase 2, which has alarmed a string of civil society groups and concerned Penangites.
The conditional approval was granted in a letter dated 10 April 2014. One activist, upon hearing the news, exclaimed, “Surely it must be a joke.”
It was only last month that the period of so-called ‘public display’ of the draft DEIA had ended. The Consumers Association of Penang and Sahabat Alam Malaysia flatly rejected the project. A team of scholars and professionals from the Penang Forum, a coalition of Penang-based civil society groups, studied the three thick volumes of the DEIA and then submitted a 21-page objection letter to the DOE outlining a host of alarming issues and concerns about a month ago.
How on earth was the DOE able to properly assess and address those issues in one month?
Mainstream business analysts had tellingly anticipated that the project would get underway in the second half of the year. It was as if they expected the DOE approval to be a mere formality, never mind that this would be one of the largest land reclamation projects in the country and that the ecological impact of Phase 1 is there for all to see.
But who pays for the dredging of siltation in the future? E & O in the Detailed EIA expects the Penang people to ultimately foot the bill – while E & O keeps the super profits on a land reclamation concession it had very cheaply acquired. WHY should the public foot the bill for dredging?
Who pays for the traffic nightmare and the infrastructure needed to deal with it?
Who pays if the land reclamation goes wrong resulting in a bigger ecological disaster than the current mess and eyesore at Gurney Drive, which no amount of silly mudballs can address?
Who pays for the devastating loss of fisheries and marine biodiversity and higher fish prices? Can you imagine, the DEIA puts the economic value of fisheries at a paltry RM33m-50m.
Who in the federal DOE is responsible for approving this DEIA? Will they be held responsible and accountable and fired if things go wrong?
Unfortunately, we can’t rely on the Penang state government to intervene, as the state itself is a joint developer with a 21.2 per cent interest in the developer Tanjung Pinang Development, with E & O holding the balance. E & O itself is under the grip of Sime Darby, a federal GLC. So the fingerprints of both federal and state interests are all over this project.
With the federal interest via Sime Darby present, don’t expect the state BN opposition to make much noise about the project.
Of course, a chunk of Phase 2 is also part of the land-for-tunnel swap deal, the tunnel being a pet mega project of the state government. So they will want to push this project through.
So the main political parties are mired up to their necks with Big Business interests.
In the end, we are on our own. I am shocked and saddened that it has come to this.
This was the announcement by:
EASTERN & ORIENTAL BERHAD
Description EASTERN & ORIENTAL BERHAD
– APPROVAL FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT, MINISTRY OF NATURAL RESOURCES AND ENVIRONMENT FOR THE DETAILED ENVIRONMENT IMPACT ASSESSMENT STUDY FOR PHASE 2 OF SERI TANJUNG PINANG
We refer to the announcement dated 12 April 2011 in relation to the in-principle approval of the masterplan for Phase 2 of Seri Tanjung Pinang.
The Board of Directors of Eastern & Oriental Berhad (“E&O” or the “Company”) is pleased to announce that Tanjung Pinang Development Sdn Bhd (“TPD”), a subsidiary of E&O, had on 11 April 2014 received the conditional approval letter dated 10 April 2014 (“DEIA Conditional Approval”) from the Department of Environment, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (“DOE”) for the Detailed Environment Impact Assessment (“DEIA”) study and conceptual masterplan submitted by TPD for the proposed reclamation of Phase 2 of Seri Tanjung Pinang at Tanjung Tokong, Penang (“Proposed Project”).
To briefly recapitulate, in 1992, TPD was granted the exclusive right to reclaim and develop land in the district of Tanjong Tokong in the north-east coast of Penang. To date, the Group has reclaimed and is continuing to develop Phase 1 of the project.
The Group through TPD had sought the State Government of Penang’s approval to reclaim the balance concession area and by letter dated 11 April 2011, the Jabatan Perancang Bandar dan Desa, Pulau Pinang, communicated the State’s in-principle approval to the masterplan for the Proposed Project. In our announcement dated 12 April 2011, it was emphasized that many steps remained to be taken and approvals to be obtained before reclamation works can actually commence, not least of all a satisfactory environmental impact assessment study.
THE DEIA CONDITIONAL APPROVAL
The DEIA Conditional Approval is conditional upon the following terms and conditions:-
- It is applicable only to the proposed reclamation of 760 acres (307.60 hectares) of man-made islands and 131 acres (53 hectares) of the Gurney Drive foreshore, and dredging activities at the “flushing channel”;
- The provisions of the Environmental Quality Act, 1974, must always be complied with;
- The Proposed Project must be in line with the project concept stated in the DEIA and is subject to the approval of separate environmental impact assessments by DOE for activities prescribed under the Environmental Quality Order (Prescribed Activities) (Environmental Impact Assessment) 1987;
- The necessary approvals from the State Government and relevant government departments must be obtained before the Proposed Project is implemented;
- The DEIA approval conditions and recommendations of the DEIA Consultant must be incorporated as conditions of tender documents and contractual agreements, to be fulfilled by any contractor/subcontractor involved in the implementation of the Proposed Project;
- The DEIA Conditional Approval is valid for 2 years from the date of issuance; and
- All works to be undertaken in the Proposed Project must further comply with specific work-related requirements and specifications as set out, including reporting obligations under the relevant laws and regulations.
With the DEIA Conditional Approval in hand, the Board of Directors of E&O is of the view that another key milestone has been reached for the Proposed Project.
This announcement is dated 14 April 2014.