Save Penang Hill 2.0 call goes out as 23,000 sign online petition in six days

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The online petition to save Penang Hill can be found here. 23,000 signatures in six days is impressive by any standards. Expect more people to sign on.

Clearly the Save Penang Hill campaign of 1990 has been forgotten by those who have fantasies of turning Penang Hill into a mini-Genting Highlands complete with cable cars and throngs of visitors. With an express train already carrying more people up the hill, the sound of cash registers on Penang Hill going ka-ching! must seem like music to their ears – never mind the limited carrying capacity of the hill and the many landslides there over the years. And now, two proposed hotels could open the floodgates for even more ‘development’ pressure on the hill.

Does the state government know the size of the footprint for a 200-room hotel? How can we be sure that forest reserves and slopes will be untouched when we have no idea what kind of proposals the government will receive from their ‘request for proposals’. After all, we saw how the Halcrow transport masterplan was altered beyond recognition by SRS Consortium whose extravagant proposal was accepted.

This is the press statement released today:

This press conference by Penang Forum is done jointly with Pertubuhan Pelindung Khazanah Alam (Peka) president Shariffa Sabrina Syed Akil.

Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow’s revelation on 8 November 2018 that plans are afoot to build two large hotels atop Penang Hill has created much worry and antipathy.

As Penang reels from its latest landslide disaster in Bukit Kukus, Penang Forum strongly objects to this plan to build large hotels behind the Convalescent Bungalow (about 200 rooms) and at Coolie Lines (about 100 rooms).

We call on the Penang state government to review and cancel this mega development on Penang Hill for the following reasons:

It will spoil the charm and ambience of Penang Hill

To many people from both far and near, the hill is a recreational space, a place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy the cool climate, greenery of the forest, fresh air and the beauty of colonial bungalows. The memories and heritage of Penang Hill are precious not only to the people of Penang but also to all Malaysians and visitors.

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Building these hotels would mar the historical and cultural landscape and turn Penang Hill into a warmer, overdeveloped and overcrowded resort.

Tremendously strain Penang Hill’s limited resources

Both hotels would have about 300 rooms in total, which would mean when fully occupied, up to 500-600 overnight guests on Penang Hill, not including the staff. This population would strain the hill’s limited resources, supplies and utilities (water supply, electrical supply and sewage).

According to the Penang Hill special area plan (p29, Chapter 2-13), Penang Hill had a population of 949 people in 2010, but with these extra hotels, it would mean an extra 500-600 overnight guests or about 60% more (temporary) residents, immensely straining the hill’s resources.

Concerns over soil erosion and possibility of landslides

It worries us that this announcement of the Penang Hill hotel project comes less than a month after the deadly Bukit Kukus landslide. In the space of one year, between October 2017 and October 2018, 20 lives have been lost as a result of preventable landslides. It is worth reminding ourselves that Penang Hill suffered more than a hundred landslides during the November 2017 storm.

As Penang hill is environmentally sensitive, we are extremely worried that similar tragic incidents could happen during the construction of the proposed hotels, especially since the chief minister, in his statement on 8 November, admitted that the second hotel “will be built on the slope”.

Not climate-smart development

With climate change resulting in more erratic weather and the possibilities of events like the November 2017 storm, which resulted in unprecedented damage to the hill’s slopes and infrastructure, we are extremely worried that this hotel project would be susceptible to the impact of extreme weather, both during and after construction, and add to the risk faced by local residents who live near these two construction areas.

Endangers the flora and fauna of the hill

The chief minister himself said on 8 November that “part of the land is in the forest reserve” and “we wanted to resolve that matter”.

READ MORE:  3D drone video of landslides on Penang Hill REMOVED from YouTube

We are extremely concerned about what this “resolution” would mean, especially if it would result in the cutting of trees and the uprooting of flora and fauna, a good number of which are unique to Penang Hill.

This statement also calls into question the guidelines stated in the Penang Hill special area plan, which (in p93, Chapter 5-3) clearly defines the forest reserve in Penang Hill as “Environmentally Sensitive Area Rank 1”, with “excision of land from forest reserve NOT being supported”.

The chief minister’s statement is also worrying as it contradicts his own statement on World Environment Day on 5 June 2018, when he proudly proclaimed that Penang was the “only state in Malaysia where not a single square inch of forest reserve has been touched” and that “we will not dispute our commitment to protect and preserve our permanent forest reserves” [1].

The hotels also conflict with the application of the Unesco Man and Biosphere Reserve for Penang Hill as the planned hotels border the proposed reserve risking the long-term conservation and preservation of Penang Hill’s unique biodiversity.

Disrupts our water catchment

Penang Hill and its forests are an important water catchment supplying a substantial amount of the island’s water needs. The proposed hotel, especially the one near the Convalescent Bungalow, will be on or borders part of slopes that are gazetted as a water catchment area.

Based on the Penang Hill special area plan, “only tourist accommodation such as exclusive accommodation designed to harmonise with the forest setting and of low impact development” (p94, Chapter 5-4) is permitted in a conservation and recreation zone within water catchment areas.

Thus, it is worrying that a hotel with about 200 rooms could be planned for such sensitive water catchment areas. We are extremely worried that any disruption, sedimentation or pollution of our water catchment areas from the construction of these hotels would jeopardise the water supply of a water-stressed state like Penang.

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Disruption of built heritage on Penang Hill

The Convalescent Bungalow is one of the earliest sites where a bungalow was built on Penang Hill, with the first structure being constructed in the early 1800s, while the present bungalow was built in 1890. Convalescent Bungalow is classified as a category two heritage building, and construction of a large hotel with about 200 rooms would possibly not be in harmony with the existing structure and would obstruct its views.

With these reasons, we appeal to the chief minister and the Penang state government to be fully transparent about the project’s details, in accordance with Penang’s principles of compentence, accountability and transparency, and engage in sincere dialogue with all Penangites about this huge development plan.

Penang Hill is not just a tourist site which generates millions of ringgit in revenue, but also Penang’s green lung, water catchment area and the place where many generations of Penangites have sought refuge from the hustle and bustle of the city.

It is worth remembering that 28 years ago, civil society and the general public initiated a successful campaign to Save Penang Hill, and it is no less capable of repeating it today.

The Save Penang Hill! No Large Hotels on Penang Hill! petition which was launched last Thursday, 15 November 2018 by Penang Hills Watch, an initiative of Penang Forum, has so far received more than 20,000 signatures in a less than a week, showing how strongly the general public opposes any form of wanton development on the hill.

Penang Forum is not against sustainable and low impact development of the hill’s infrastructure and fully supports the idea of refurbishing and repurposing some of the old government assets on Penang Hill for reuse as has been stated by Penang Hill Corporation on 16 November 2018.

We appeal to the chief minister to cancel this mega hotel project on the hill for the sake of Penang.

Let’s not sacrifice Penang Hill, our crowning jewel, at the altar of unethical, unsustainable development.

Save my hill; save our hill; save Penang Hill!

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Samuel
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Samuel

Go check up Kee Thuan Chye’s latest book ‘The People’s Victory’, RM49.90 on event leading to PH’s victory in GE14.

V Ramesh
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V Ramesh

Read the last chapter and find out the reasons by it took so long, into late at night the next day, before the King, under constitutional democracy, finally acknowledged Tun M as new PM.

Call Me Handsome
Guest
Call Me Handsome

If the hotel developments can be environmental sustainable personally i have no objection. But you see so many concrete on island with little truly green intiatives like proper planting of trees to provide shades for pedestrians and cyclists. A lot pure rhetorics and too IDEAL to realize. Hehe.

Shriek
Guest
Shriek

Yes, very obvious no trees and foot paths if you look at the heritage area. Those owners are thinking £$¥€¢

Bhaskar
Guest
Bhaskar

Phee Boon Poh clarified:

“I do not understand the hue and cry over the issue as it is not like we are going to build a township on the hill.

“The state is in the process of consolidating its assets on the hill, such as the rest houses and bungalows, which are in a dilapidated condition and restoring them is a priority to maximise their usage.

“At present, there is only one hotel on Penang Hill. So, we are merely trying to give visitors more options,” he said.

Read more at https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2018/11/23/phee-well-hear-ngos-views-on-penang-hill/#RhopkoQ12dSIYZPy.99

penangkia
Guest
penangkia

“Go-ahead for two hotels on Penang Hill
GEORGE TOWN: The state government has in principle allowed the Penang Hill Corporation (PHC) to proceed with its proposed plans to build two hotels on Penang”

That is the headlines…so the projects is spearheaded by Penang Hill Corp..and they were very arrogant to push ahead. who are the BIG shots running the Penang Hill Corp? head must roll..

John Tan
Guest

Not too bad. Considering the time. But Penang people could definitely do with more awareness and interest in this matter than blogging to their friends about their overseas holidays,

Jefri
Guest
Jefri

Most Penang folks are more concern about their financial matters. Sustainable or not the development is not their concern so long as their rice bowl is not affected.

Phang
Guest
Phang

Can have eco-tourism in Penang Hill or not?
What you think, Ms Selma?

Call Me Handsome
Guest
Call Me Handsome

Ms Selma could promote green friendly activities to encourage Dota generation to be more involved in nature events like camping on hills and apprreciating flora fauna. I think her and team energy can be focused on value added activities to guide the youngs rather than to antagonise the administrator without win win outcomes.

Wei
Guest
Wei

how come no protest against The Habitat ? The Habitat run aggressive promotion to attract tourist…hehe..more tourist more foot print but not a squeak from the holy NGOs ?

PenangLang
Guest
PenangLang

Because good project we support, bad one we oppose. Unlike you, “Yes Man” all the way. Please do more research!

Wei
Guest
Wei

good project?..hehe..no matter how your package it , it is still a money making profit oriented business… maybe cash registers on The Habitat going ka-ching sound differently from the hotel, must be like music to the Penang forum’s ears – “never mind the limited carrying capacity of the hill and the many landslides there over the years” …hehe

PenangLang
Guest
PenangLang

Your comments are highly hypocritical. Penang forum do not own any lands but the government do, so who is the one profiting? Not only that, you justify by saying it’s okay to build hotels because other projects are approved yet you are worried about landslides. I’m confused, what is your position? Hehe

tunglang
Guest
tunglang

A self-contradictory mind coupled with hehe mentality is not too different from the inmates of Tanjung Rambutan. What’s more with Komtar Dedak addiction of surreal perception? Not least always gleeful hehe at the expense of others’ safety & suffering.

Wei
Guest
Wei

the last sentence i quoted from article above. get that into your thick skull…

read carefully and you won’t be confused…hehe

Shriek
Guest
Shriek

Who created the traffic jams? Penang gomen only? You ask gomen servants to take bus to service the public? Who talk about sustainability but themselves using cars? Who is hyprocrite? Penang forum uses bus? At the end of the day the gomen has to do something about roads. The gomen is building major highways to by pass certain centres just unlike the past, tunglang has to drive into kampar, tapah town centres to go to kl. Halcrow was never a transport expert although it is well known consultant in civil works. Transport Consultant can get the sum wrong. Eg some… Read more »

tunglang
Guest
tunglang

In the video above, the longish, larger landslide on the right I called it the Devil’s Tongue.
The left one, I called it the Niao Kong’s Tongue.
Any future landslide near the vicinity like the 2 above, I will call it Sin Chow Tongue.

I can’t imagine how the occupants of those bungalows nearer to these 2 Tongues could sleep thro’ during each rain storm. Values of these precarious bungalows to take a dive?

Wei
Guest
Wei

hehe…Penang Hill Corp GM had clarified that no forest will make way for new hotel and for now will only focus on refurbishing the existing building….typical knee jerk and exaggerated reaction from NGOs …

PenangLang
Guest
PenangLang

You should say it’s because of NGO’s pressure. You like authoritarian government?

Wei
Guest
Wei

wow…one day Penang forum issue one statement, the next day PHC buckle? …hehe

penangkia
Guest
penangkia

wau…using such sweet words on Penang Hill Corp GM…must be you employer?

Shriek
Guest
Shriek

Rough words must be your nemeses?

Wei
Guest
Wei

hey,small boy ,it was in the news ,go read it..

penangkia
Guest
penangkia

ya small ciku, are you doing the talking for your BOSS

Stanley Ting
Guest

pathetic – only 23K

tunglang
Guest
tunglang

Destroy or protect Penang Hill?
Nothing is more pathetic (disturbing) than those like CAT Sin Chow who irresponsibly seek out max-profiteering @ the expense of safety of locals & tourists.

Shriek
Guest
Shriek

Then limit the number of tourists going up the hills like those historical or scenic places in China. Penang forum good is opposing but never offer suggestion.
BTW, many of my comments never get published. Under moderation and after few days terminated. This called river of justice?

Shriek
Guest
Shriek

Why not you oppose the expansion of peng land air port or better still relocate far away so less people will come and less peng lang will leave the island?

Wei
Guest
Wei

hehe…maybe penang forum gang can merge with gagasan kuasa tiga suku to destroy DAP….marriage of convenience…what think you?

Norman
Guest
Norman

Are you refering to Ragvinder Singh Jess aka Raggie Jessy who is forming a “third force alliance” G3?

https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2018/11/22/guan-eng-calls-for-stern-action-against-g3-for-false-racial-accusations/#iWtSkDwvwohtHAV8.99

tunglang
Guest
tunglang

When hehe or shriek trolling turns desperate with no substance, anything goes including quoting G3. Such amateurish spinning is also another facet of creating tension & falsehood.
We should be discerning of these trolls of GONGO out to disrupt Pg Forum’s good efforts. It’s good to confront them & expose their dirty intentions.

Shriek
Guest
Shriek

If you have substance, why don’t go to macc. Just to show yourself kiasi, worse cat than the paper tiger and Penang CAT

Shriek
Guest
Shriek

You only know how to kau beh kau bu jumping up and down like dude. No substance. Look at this comments here. No substance.

V Ramesh
Guest
V Ramesh

Raggie Jessy is the new menace taking over the place of Jamal, Ali Tinju? G3 should tell Malays that ICERD is an UN initiative, not from DAP.

Norman
Guest
Norman

Malaysians should be wary of those who use divisive tactics to grab power at the expense of unity and harmony.

https://www.thestar.com.my/opinion/columnists/one-mans-meat/2018/11/24/the-bogeyman-isnt-our-enemy/eyEM1lePIokcvPkorLH.99

Bhaskar
Guest
Bhaskar

3R is the weapon of choice of Umno – Royalty, Race, Religion.
Umno will continue to stir it and PDRM must be brave to arrest the culprits.

Jefri
Guest
Jefri

True. As a Muslim I am deeply ashamed by the behaviour of Edi Rejang towards the beer promoter. Good to see DAP trying to assist him but he went AWOL although many are trying to find job for him.

PenangLang
Guest
PenangLang

Penang forum destroy DAP? You must be out of your mind buddy.

Wei
Guest
Wei

both are NGOs, both are good at spinning, both are loud, both want DAP out of the government, they make good buddies. they should hold hand i mean hold rally together..that would be a beautiful sight..

penangkia
Guest
penangkia

we all love our Penang and CM…we are here to support save Penang Hill and not to politicised the issue like you “wei” said. You must be the troll journalist…? Who is your real boss? … Now we know the real reasons you are creating troubles in this forum. Shame on you “wei”. Click to Edit –  <p>we all love our Penang and CM&#8230;we are here to support save Penang Hill and not to politicised the issue like you &#8220;wei&#8221; said. You must be the troll journalist…? Who is your real boss? … Now we know the real reasons you are… Read more »

tunglang
Guest
tunglang

To falsely mention “destroy DAP” is to create hatred of Pg Forum not unlike a religious bigot party which likened DAP to Israel’s “destroy the Palestinians”. This insidious GONGO tongue is full of lies, contrives & speaks no respect of civilised discourse but hehe bent on creating hatred by spinning, lying & quoting rubbish.

Jefri
Guest
Jefri

Wonder why Umno and its NGOs are not helping those affected by Arab’s indiscriminate bombing of Yemen, causing great sufferings, death and famine especially among the innocent children. Do not just blame the Yahudi people when the Arabs are equally cruel like animals killing fellow Muslims.

Wei
Guest
Wei

99% of so called NGOs are driven either by dedak or by ego….bunch of pretender with no shame..

penangkia
Guest
penangkia

well small ciku..where is your trademark of “hehehe”? so marah?

tunglang
Guest
tunglang

Pls try harder, otherwise you are no better than Shriek!

Shriek
Guest
Shriek

Penang forum out of mind. If Penang forum boasted of 23k signed in why not 23k sign in not to use private transport. Instantly Penang is free from about 10k cars on the road. Rapid can put more buses, more frequent and cost will be lowered. The 23k take public transport will help the lower income.