Penang mega project: Public consultation or tokenism?


This was the press conference held on Monday at the CAP office – the first major event held there since the passing of the legendary SM Mohamed Idris.

A Malay version of an online petition against the massive 4,500 acre land reclamation was launched. The petition, endorsed by 45 NGOs, is also available in English, Chinese and Japanese. So far it has collected 23,000 signatures (have you signed yet?), leaving a rival petition in support of the reclamation trailing far, far behind.

Check out the official logo of the Penang Rejects Reclamation campaign, which was also launched on Monday:

People are already complaining about the restrictions when viewing the detailed environmental impact assessment report, which is being displayed for one month – during the fasting month. Some have asked for an extension but the state government is not budging. It said there was an earlier EIA display – but that EIA report was rejected by the Department of Environment, so this version on display can’t be the same one. Why the haste to conclude the display – shouldn’t we be trying to make the report accessible to as many people as possible? Anyway, isn’t the decision whether to extend the display of the EIA up to the federal DoE and not the state government, especially given that it is the project proponent?

Read Ravinder Singh’s account of his experience in trying to view the EIA report on the land reclamation: The Penang govt’s ‘invisible’ transparency and accountability. I know his frustration. I experienced the same problem in looking at the SRS proposal for traffic infrastructure. We were expected to plough through 20 thick volumes that were put up on public display – and we were not allowed to bring our phones in to take photos of the pages; instead we had to hurriedly scribble notes down. And I was a Penang Transport Council member back then. Thank heavens I am no longer in that council. I can tell you from first-hand experience, it was a real farce.

So I am not going to waste my time with the public display of the detailed EIA for the massive reclamation this time. It is a waste of time because you know their minds – politicians and selected contractor and developers in the consortium – are set on it.

So much for public consultation.

Speaking of which, check out Sherry Arstein’s Ladder of Citizens’ Participation:

This is how David Wilcox describes it:

1 Manipulation and 2 Therapy. Both are non participative. The aim is to cure or educate the participants. The proposed plan is best and the job of participation is to achieve public support by public relations.

3 Informing. A most important first step to legitimate participation. But too frequently the emphasis is on a one way flow of information. No channel for feedback.

4 Consultation. Again a legitimate step attitude surveys, neighbourhood meetings and public enquiries. But Arnstein still feels this is just a window dressing ritual.

5 Placation. For example, co-option of hand-picked ‘worthies’ onto committees. It allows citizens to advise or plan ad infinitum but retains for power holders the right to judge the legitimacy or feasibility of the advice.

6 Partnership. Power is in fact redistributed through negotiation between citizens and power holders. Planning and decision-making responsibilities are shared e.g. through joint committees.

7 Delegated power. Citizens holding a clear majority of seats on committees with delegated powers to make decisions. Public now has the power to assure accountability of the programme to them.

8 Citizen Control. Have-nots handle the entire job of planning, policy making and managing a programme e.g. neighbourhood corporation with no intermediaries between it and the source of funds.

In the case of the Penang government’s “public consultations” and “public displays”, I think we are somewhere between levels 2-4 ie close to the bottom of the ladder, tokenism at best. What we have is mostly one-way top-down information, no serious alternatives given, “managed” consultation, ritualistically going through the motions – and lots of state/corporate propaganda and public relations (the latest being a ridiculous “LRT Hunt” – to put more wool over the eyes of unsuspecting Penangites, who are not aware of cheaper, quicker alternatives).

All this, so that they can later say, “We consulted, what.”

But enough of this rubbish. Stand up and be counted. The least you can do is sign the petition.

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All NGOs opposed to this marine-life killing SRS also should rope in Kedah state to opposed as it was advised by Pg state gomen to ban all logging + conserve Pedu Lake rainforest for long term raw water supply sustainability to Penang. If Pg DAP gomen is so concerned about environmental destruction in neighbouring Kedah for altruistic Nature conservation, it should do (more) likewise for its own state. Or is it more concerned about greedy developers’ survival in a climate of near property bubble burst? Or full realisation of Niao Kong’s Legacy (sea tunnel, hill tunnels, Sandiwara botak hills, destructive… Read more »

Milk Tea

Save Penang!


Cant read and understand water is essential to life? Protection of water catchment is essential. Even singland complain water catchment in southern state is not well protected.

Mr Local

Want no logging in Kedah then Penang people better pay Kedah more for water!


Tung land, why group of NGOs did not sent petitions to kedah gomen over activities in the water catchment?


Don’t shriek like a dunggu. Here’s an update for you: SAM, CAP welcome Kedah’s decision to immediately revoke logging licences in Ulu Muda GEORGE TOWN: Two non-governmental organisations (NGO) have given the thumbs up to Kedah government’s decision to immediately revoke logging licences in Ulu Muda. Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) and the Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP), in lauding Land, Water and Natural Resources Minister Dr Xavier Jayakumar’s statement on the matter, also noted that the Federal Government would compensate Kedah for its loss of revenue. SAM and CAP president S.M. Mohamed Idris said there were funds available internationally… Read more »


You are the real duggu Abd guillable. Why you do not shriek louder and protest xavier for giving $$$ to kedah and none to peng land? How come peng land gets tin kosOng even they contribute more taxes to federal gomen? Go and shriek louder.


You are again spinning to detract from a contentious issue.
Penang state gomen knew it couldn’t demand Kedah to do this & that. It had to give an incentive & that was fair & square.
The crux of the argument is if Pg Gomen is so concerned about environment degradation in a neighbouring state which could threaten its raw water supply, it should also / more so do likewise for its own environment protection, which it has not done at all against more sea reclamation. Now, do you understand???


why … the petition is in Japanese?? hehe…very likely 90% of the 23k signatories are not even Penangites ..

Kenny Lau

Please don’t question our sincerity. I signed it and i am Penangite. I invited my friends and they all signed it as well. WE ALL REJECT THIS PROJECT !!!!


if the petition is believable, does that imply that the rest of the Penang population of 99.99% who did not sign the petition support the project ?

Milk Tea

We know you live in Komtar. Extremely dirty and smelly area. Never been there for years!


Komtar dirty and smelly courtesy of Gelakan……thank God Penangites sent them to thrash bin early…


So kau beh kau Bu as you prove other parts of peng LANd is clean and pleasent living.


So you still been other paRTS of peng land. They are still clean inspite of development works and hill cutting. So you kau beh kau Bu over clean areas and quiet Iver dirry area like komtar?


Don’t you obviously think it’s very shameful + self-contradictory that the seat of CM is in Komtar which is still dirty & smelly? And proudly wants to continue legacy of Niao Kong’s Cosmopolitan Penang, CoastMudPolitan Gurney Drive & Cleaner, Greener, Safer Penang!
And my businessman friend told me the CM never walk around Level 2 & 3 to check how’s business… People centric gomen???


You want the cm to do the round the island tour? Or you want cm to be security guard ronda Ronda whole of komtar. Your business friend running 7~11.?


BM and seberang orso part of penang.


Those from seberang, BM etc orso Peng Landers.


The next sensible approach is to ‘big-march’ to Putrajaya to meet PM Mahathir during the coming school holiday. JUST-DO-IT-NOW before CM Chow’s bulldozer rams thro’ Monstrous PTMP!


Tung land, I hear it thousands of times but no action. Take the lead rather quak quak.


Orso next sense is to do it and not just talk talk. Everyone can’t talk but not do


Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow will be attending a United Nations event to learn from experts on how the state can improve further economically, environmentally and sustainably, said his press secretary Yap Lee Ying.

She added that according to Chow, the state can also develop further by looking ahead and making bold decisions for future generation.

Chow will be representing Penang at the first session of the United Nations Habitat Assembly of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat A) in Nairobi, Kenya, from May 24 to 29.


NGOs never have the numbers for ‘ BIG march’ ,Tu lang still day dreaming….hehe