Penang, paradise lost…


Here are more telling signs of the worsening environmental situation in Penang. Time we woke up and did something about it.

Blog-reader Steve Oh shares with us what Penang was once like:

Anyone who knows Penang will tell you it is such a beautiful island with an alluring and rare charm that even beguiled Somerset Maugham the novelist, who spent time there. But take a drive along its unique sinuous coastal road round the island and you will see how the poor island has suffered a tortuous existence since development hit the island. It is like Cinderella ill-treated. The Pearl has lost its lustre, and without its blue seas, perhaps greenish at ground level, it has lost its natural appeal.

I inspected a beachside property and was aghast to see several illegal houses built of concrete and zinc roofs that had been there for some time right smack on the beach in front of it. And you can even find illegal food shops on some beaches! You wonder where all the sewage go. There are big open monsoon drains that flow into the sea and you can find some beside those beautiful hotels. Do they seriously want people to swim in the sea? Ask a silly question! Sigh.

Yes, we remember our childhood days on the beaches of Penang. We used to dig for siput at Gurney Drive. They were plentiful and you could play on the sand and the water was typically Penang but not as crystal clear as the sea at Muka Head but still relatively unpolluted.

The rape of Penang’s natural heritage will not stop until Penangites themselves mobilise to stop the rot. The new government has a challenge on its hands but it is a challenge that requires every Penangite to feel a sense of ownership and chip in.

Mut recalls what it was like fishing off the coast of Penang:

Even in the early 80s we could still find nice sandy beaches; for me, the srtongest signal that something was going wrong came when fishing trips yielded worse catches.

During the 80s, you could still get quality table fish even when fishing from the shore. Cast netting for shrimps in the late afternoon was a favourite pastime; it also yielded fresh and tasty fare for the table at dinner. The surrounding waters also had quality table fish like groupers, threadfin salmon (senangin), sembilang, and jenahak from time to time on live shrimp bait. Even trash fish (as it was regarded then) like gelama would be in the region of 300g each; nowadays such a catch would go for RM6-8 per kilo.

Nowadays, the waters are almost dead; fishes are only available in the deeper waters – this is what I gather from the coastal fishermen still plying their back-breaking trade in these waters. In the space of 20 years, this deterioration has continued unabated. There was a time when we could see garbage flowing past the bridge whenever the tide changed; there were also those black plastic bags that indicated this was household garbage collected by the MPPP. Where were they dumped that they could find their way to the sea?

I shudder to think the amount of work needed to put these things right – but we have to start somewhere.

Han2 is worried about the hillslopes:

I just drove up home to Batu Ferringhi from George Town; workers are still working to clean up the landslides and there are three temporary road blocks to control the flow of traffic both ways along the narrow sea-front road.

I wish I can have both the ex-CM Koh Tsu Koon and present CM Lim Guan Eng to give both a piece of my mind. More and more hill slope developments along the coast with 50-60 storey high condominiums located on steep hill slopes. Trees are indiscriminately chopped down.

When will this ever end?

And it flooded again last night reports Dalbinder:

I personally went out with a few friends at 2.00am last night to see the floods and it was scary, guys. I didn’t take pictures as i left my camera at home. Was rushing though but had my handphone to take pics. Yes, I must buy a better camera soon as my current one not so good plus it was at night , no lights – my housing area and a few others areas blackout. My car swam through floods and already many times my Perodua Myvi swam through floods and its okay, touch wood. Saw a couple of Mercedes rosak, haha. The last I kena was during the super saturday when I was stuck in Balik Pulau-Teluk Kumbar- Bayan Lepas Tun Sardon Road…

I’m upset and really worried about the environment these days. I am trying my best to play my part but i realise many Malaysians aren’t cooperating. Bloggers, I believe, should move first by being more environment friendly. What I saw in town was terrible. All roads leading to Penang Road like Jalan Dato Koyah, Transfer Road, Sri Bahari Road – all water as high as my knee… then I came to Green Lane, road after Penang Free School closed as it was flooded; all U-turning. Yes, I saw the Air Itam Road from the flyover and was shocked; Jelutong Expressway was okay… Jalan Terengganu also bad towards the roundabout… many schools were badly flooded. May God bless Penang.

Blogger Lilian too was affected by the floods:

I also would like to know what the Jabatan Pengairan dan Saluran was doing because last night; my area here near the Race Course was flooded. This is the worst flood I have experienced since I moved here seven years ago. The water was as high as half a Kancil. Since 25 August 2008, we have experienced three floods and two motorbikes and a Naza Ria belonging to me have been damaged.

I wonder if the Jabatan Pengairan has done anything since 25 Aug ‘cos the flood has worsened even though the rain is not that heavy. Makes me wonder if the department even exists.

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17 Oct 2008 11.10pm

nkkhoo,agree with you.DAP-led govt.can make different in Penang?As what the condition of the area that have flash flood at the island and mainland of Penang state did not have any improvement after seven month of new state govt. I will show Penangites one good model of the present state govt. dealing with floods at Prai industrial estate’s main road after the flyover of the railway. The flood happen two times a month during high tide,water will overflow the road for 3 to 4 days and is happening for more than a decades. Last few month,this particular area was hit by… Read more »

17 Oct 2008 6.37pm

Cities in America have routine cleaning for underground draisn with powerful vacuum pumps.

We Bolehland is waiting mother nature to do free cleaning service for us. The hefty price we pay for is flash floods for our impotent in administrating our cities.

DAP-led government can make different in Penang? I beg not, they are good in blaming former govornment for flood problem.

Routine cleaning on clogged drains is more cheaper and more effective than mega-millions flood mitigation projects preferred by previous and present state government.

17 Oct 2008 12.52pm

These flood problems have been getting progressively worse over the years. Penangites only have themselves to blame for keeping in office that political eunuch KTK for 18 years.

So stop moaning. You get what you elect.

16 Oct 2008 11.25pm

I experienced the above on the way back from Chulia Street to Gelugor after supper. Just like a scene out of “The day after tomorrow”, the roads were filled with angry rushing water. Poor motorcyclists were being splashed full bodiedly by passing cars. The surprising thing was it took such a short time of heavy downpour to create such a scenario. From Anson Road, I tried turning right to Macalister Road. No good. After a u turn back to Dato Kramat Road, the road was only good until Seh Poh Kiao. A right turn into York Road was also a… Read more »

Adam & The Ants
Adam & The Ants
16 Oct 2008 10.02pm

the whole country for that matter is being raped.
try coming down to Seremban its even worst.
nobody cares.

16 Oct 2008 9.37pm

You can play with man but don’t fool around with mother nature.