What’s going on here. Last night I wrote that I could not understand how Mahathir could go along with the massive reclamation off the southern coast of Penang Island – especially as the reclamation would cover an area larger than Forest City in Johor, which he was dead against.
Well there is hope yet. Today, Khalid Samad announced that the National Physical Planning Council had not yet made any decision; it just gave some advice to the Penang government, including the need for greater consultation with the local community.
Let’s not forget that the plight of the fishermen could be easily used by Umno and Pas and turned into a hot national issue of local communities losing their livelihoods in the name of misguided “development”.
So why did the Penang state government jump the gun by saying that approval has been given? Was it trying to preempt or ‘mould’ the council’s decision and exert pressure?
Anyway, we are grateful to Mahathir, the federal government, the National Physical Planning Council and Khalid Samad for “staying” its decision and asking for more consultation (of the real kind) instead. This news suggests there are deep misgivings or divisions within the cabinet about this unsustainable project.
And well done to all those concerned Penang residents who spoke out against the massive reclamation plan. You do make a difference.
The battle to save the soul of Penang has only just begun.