The financing model for the Penang transport masterplan and the very plan itself appears to be fundamentally flawed.
For a start, it is the fishermen of Penang who will have to bear a disproportionate amount of the cost in the form of their very livelihoods.
And secondly, the land-for-transport infrastructure swap deal is fundamentally flawed because it forces Penangites to choose between better public transport and the fishermen’s livelihoods, which will be affected by the massive land reclamation of over 4,000 acres.
Is this the path to sustainable development and a greener Penang? Even before starting, the Penang state government is faced with a serious moral dilemma.
This is a case of the livelihoods of the fisherfolk versus the mega profits that the well connected Gamuda and property development companies stand to reap from the land reclamation and transport infrastructure.
But when mega bucks are at stake, it is not difficult to predict who will prevail.
This is from a Bernama report:
LKIM Supports 1,700 Fishermen, Opposes Reclamation Project At Permatang Damar Laut
GEORGE TOWN, Dec 26 (Bernama) — The Fisheries Development Board (LKIM) on SAturday gave the assurance that the board will do its utmost to prevent any land reclamation activities at the Permatang Damar Laut, Sungai Batu and Teluk Kumbar areas, here.
Its chairman Datuk Irmohizam Ibrahim said the board had vehemently opposed the project proposed by the Penang DAP government, deemed to be non-beneficial to the fishermen there.
He said the proposed reclamation area which covered an area of 809.73 hectares for the development of three artificial islands was believed to be harmful to the ecosystem and thus would jeopardise the livelihood of 1,700 fishermen from Teluk Kumbar, Gertak Sanggul, Sungai Batu and Permatang Damar Laut areas.
“The rationale of the reclamation project, as I see it, is more towards corporatisation and commercialisation, while the welfare of the lower class groups is ignored.
“This is a crucial matter and as LKIM chairman I have to ensure fish source especially fresh fish, is always available. The important thing is we are trying to reduce fish imports and Balik Pulau is among areas in Penang as well as the Melaka Straits, with the most abundant fish supply.
“So, do not destroy the economic resources available as well as the areas in which the fishermen had depended on for their livelihood all these years,” he told reporters after meeting fishermen at Dewan Nelayan Unit Sungai Batu, Teluk Kumbar, near here.
Also present was Balik Pulau MP, who is also Health Deputy Minister, Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya.
Irmohizam said LKIM had built a fishermen market at Teluk Kumbar, Sungai Batu and Pulau Betong areas so that fishermen could sell their catch directly to customers and earn up to RM4 million yearly, and if the project was approved it would affect the fishermen’s sales revenue.
Asked if the federal government would approve the proposed reclamation project, Irmohizam said: “We will continue to oppose it. In my opinion, the voice of the people in this area is more important and they should be heard.”
Meanwhile, Dr Hilmi said the state government’s reasoning on having the reclamation project, to build public transportation system in the areas, was unacceptable and unreasonable.
“The transportation system cost will not be affordable to any state government, including Penang. After its completion, maintenance costs too will be high,” he added.
He said the matter was just a gimmick played up by the state government which would eventually raise public outrage in the state.
“So….when the federal government rejects this proposal they (the state government) will say, we had our development plans but the federal government opposed them…and this will later be a political issue and lead to public outcry in the state,” he said.