Seri Tanjung Pinang Phase 2: ‘Report on Penang’s artificial islands much too rosy’

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An article that appeared on fz.com

by Sangeetha Amarthalingam

GEORGE TOWN (March 19): Hidden in the colossal mountain of words in the Detailed Environmental Impact Assessment (DEIA) of the second phase of the Seri Tanjung Pinang (STP2) project are highly disturbing indications of what Penang island is to become.

The DEIA reads: “The natural panorama of the seaview fronting Gurney Drive will be replaced by the built-up islands which would have their own charms attracting different types of visitors or tourists.

“Nonetheless, the creation of the islands would forever alter the map of Penang’s coast.”

The 760-acre reclamation project is being carried out by Tanjung Pinang Development Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of E&O Property Development Berhad, in a bid to complete the 980-acre development, Phase One of which, covering some 220 acres, was reclaimed in 2006.

The DEIA was exhibited between Jan 21 and March 7 but with very little publicity, and most Penangites were not aware that the information about the project was on display for their comments. However, they can be expected to feel the impact of the project if it takes off.

Researchers from Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) and Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) who studied the DEIA found that the “proposed coastal reclamation is not justified and comes at a price of its adverse impact on the environment”.

The president of both groups, SM Mohamed Idris, said environmental impact mainly rose from the loss of coastal resources apart from the adverse effects of accompanying activities such as offshore dredging for fill material off the Perak coast.

“The major aspect of the development is creating two man-made islands where about 33.1 million cubic metres of sand or fill material is required.

“We find that the proposed development is purely for economic purpose without taking into account the environmental and social cost of reclamation.

“The appraisal process to justify the project tends to overstate the benefits and understates the costs, making it appear desirable.

“Besides this, there has been no study on the demand projections for the facilities that would be constructed,” he said.

Referring to the DEIA’s statement of need, he said STP2 was justified in order to relieve growth pressure and land scarcity but it failed to consider all other ongoing projects on Penang island including the reclamation near the Penang bridge and housing projects in other parts of the island.

He pointed out that according to the Penang Structure Plan 2005-2020, a total of 68,344 housing units was required by 2020, of which 30% or 20,503 units were low-cost housing units.

“The DEIA should have included data on the current number of housing units on the island, ongoing housing development projects, and projects that have been given planning permission by the Penang Island Municipal Council (MPPP), before justifying STP2.

“The statement of need must mention the environmental trade-offs associated with the proposed reclamation and whether it would bring positive net benefits to society as a whole.

“What are the environmental costs involved and do they outweigh the expected economic benefits?

“What are the remedial and mitigation costs that have to borne by the government following the adverse impact of this proposed project?” he asked.

The DEIA featuring 18 chapters and an executive summary was prepared by Dr Nik and Associates Sdn Bhd and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM)’s Institut Kajian Perubahan Iklim.

It stated that the STP1 reclamation that covered 240 acres was completed in 2006 while an approval in principle to reclaim the remaining 760 acres for STP2 was obtained in April 2011.

The project to be built over 30 years has been broken up into three parts – Phase 2a (a 5km-extension from STP1 at Tanjung Tokong to Gurney Drive), and 2b and 2c which are islands separated by a 50-metre-wide canal.

In a letter to the Department of the Environment (DOE) outlining its feedback on the DEIA, Mohamed Idris also criticised the potential accretion and erosion ensuing from STP1 that should be studied first because the STP2 was a continuing project.

He said the impact study was necessary particularly after the effects pointed out by the Penang Drainage and Irrigation Department deputy director Mohd Abu Bakar Othman, who said in 2011 that mud was building up along Gurney Drive.

Mohd Abu Bakar had then said this was due to the weak sea current not being able to wash the sediments away.

“He had attributed the problem to the nearby STP1 project which played a part in preventing sediments from flowing away properly.

“Mohd Abu Bakar said this after a two-year Integrated Shoreline Management Plan study in 2010,” said Mohamed Idris.

He added that apparent erosion currently happening along the Batu Ferringhi coast must be studied in order to determine its cause.

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moot

Where is the assessment about consequences of global warming. It is CONFIRM that sea level rising already reduce the size of Maldives. I don’t think E&O going to spend that much of money compare to the palm Island in Abu Dhabi that raise 10 feet above the current sea level. And not to forget, the vast landscape need millions liters of water to build, and need tens of thousands metric tons of water to survive daily. And what happens to Sanitation ? Discharge all waste into the sea directly? ECONOMY purpose? Wait, where is the TRUE OPPORTUNITIES COST? The sewage… Read more »

Ed

Commenting as an observer and reading the comments on Malaysiakini, I would say most of the opposition supporters there deride the environmentalist sentiments present on this site and labeling the NGOs opposing the project troublemakers or BN supporters. The consensus among the commentators there seem to indicate cosmopolitan Penang under LGE is the new way forward, unfortunately. Penang’s rustic charm may soon be overtaken by rows of condos and luxury housing across the island unless you vote out LGE (not DAP specifically), which isn’t going to happen anytime soon. Reclaimed islands in Singapore typically requires a decade for the soil… Read more »

henson

Ed Most older generation Penangites appreciate the RM100 token from Penang Gomen. Typically these people yearn for free stuffs (can witness long q for free goodies at sPICE whenever there is home decor expo for example) whether they are practical or. Free Free Free satisfy satisfy the inner ego. So BN (with free food free concert) and Pakatan Penang (free RM100 for seniors or RM for new borns etc) are the strategies to win their hearts tht could translate to vote (vote buying ?). So the Richie Rich Capitalists cum Politikus can influence such public to trade their ignorance for… Read more »

ktwong87

One would hope that Guan Eng, chief minister appointed by DAP-Pakatan Rakyat, has a more listening ear to the wishes and fears of his people.

However, it appears that such may not be the case.

Has his head grown too big? Is he, and DAP-Pakatan, banking on the people remaining anti-UMNO-BN?

If so, Guan Eng, DAP and Pakatan may in in for a very nasty surprise. I would hope not, but UMNO-BN may be able to gain from Guan Eng-DAP-Pakatan’s folly.

henson

ktwong87 Pre 308 Penangites yearn for development like Klang Valley had witnessed. Now with lifestyle condo-shopping mall-franchised”aircon”food, some young generation may love them BUT upon maturity they realize they cannot sustain such yearnings when barang naik hurt their pockets. Condo-house mass buying club cum speculators + who strike rich may not agree BUT people on the street now may in catch 22 situation wondering whether Penang island is reserved for the richie rich. Now we shall see mainland Penang beginning to experience the condo lifestyle development. is it LGE’s who mastermind such transformasi or reformasi of Penang landscape ??? we… Read more »

tunglang

Never mind once beautiful Pulo Pinaom will one day look like rocky island Alcatraz! Never mind once free-mingling neighbourhood will resemble the jailhouses of locked for safety Alcatraz. Never mind once Green & Clean Pulo Pinaom will be carpeted with plastic grass for golfing on Penang Alcatraz. Never mind once loveable Gurney Drive with emerald sea view will be renamed Coast-Mud-Politan Drive with artificial view of rocky islands ala Alcatraz inhabited by locked-in souls one can only see once in a while. And never mind no more Koay Kau (grouper fish), one can buy artificial made-in-China Koay Kau imported by… Read more »

henson

Gated richie rich community at Sri Tanjung Penang island – The Alcatraz of Penang ???

tunglang

Gated lifestyle of the richie & famous is akin to creating own ‘imprisonment’ for fear of the outsiders & possible crimes lurking in the dark recesses of one’s own imagination.
Kia Si, Kia Su, Kia Liao, Kia Lang! This is not the Penang of 3 decades ago.