There’s been a lot of politicisation of the motion on land reclamation in Penang while the real issues surrounding the deal are clouded and shrouded in secrecy.
In the first place, we don’t even know for sure how big an area is affected. I am saying this as one report (above) in the Edge Financial Daily on 18 November 2015 said the reclamation would be “over 607ha” (i.e. over 1,500 acres).
But that 607ha figure was the figure reported earlier if the Middle Bank off the east coast of Penang Island is reclaimed.
For southern Penang Island, the figure reported earlier by Bloomberg TV Malaysia was 4,000 acres. Yes, 4,000 acres. And Permatang Damar Laut is in the south, not near Middle Bank. So it could be 4,000 acres – not 1,500 acres.
So, the state government must tell us once and for all – are they planning 4,000 acres for land reclamation in southern Penang Island? Yes or no?
And when exactly was this area signed over to the developer or other firms? I am asking this as the state government is now warning that it would have to pay large ‘compensation’ if the reclamation does not proceed. (Ho-hum, the usual threat to silence critics.) Was this signing over done before 2008 or after 2008?
The state government must also tell us what shape this reclamation will take. Is it normal land reclamation (i.e. without any channel separating it from the rest of the island) – or will it take the shape of Dubai-style articificial islands (like Seri Tanjung Pinang Phase 2 in Tanjung Tokong) to maximise the “sea-view” of high-end property development? And if it is the latter, how many artificial islands will there be?
Why does all this appear to be so hush-hush? This doesn’t sound like CAT. People have been wondering what’s going on for months now.
All this reclamation is part of the
Penang Prime Land Reclamation for Property Development Masterplan Penang Transport Masterplan.
Big bucks are at stake. Mind you, it is not just about public transport, as the state government would have us believe. In fact, public transport accounts for just RM10bn of the lopsided RM27bn transport masterplan prepared by Halcrow. The remaining RM17bn is for highways etc. What kind of sustainable transport masterplan was that?
The other side of the coin is that this whole masterplan ‘swap deal’ thingy is just as much about plenty of high-end property development on reclaimed land, with pockets to be allocated for industrial use and airport expansion. Make no mistake, the developers stand to make big, big bucks – and that’s why the stakes are so high.
The inter-party mudslinging involving Umno-DAP-PKR about who voted for the motion in the state assembly isn’t helpful – it is actually distracting and diverts our attention from the real issues. (That said, elected reps, who represent the people’s interests, have every right to vote according to their conscience on a matter of public interest.)
Yes, we want better public transport – but don’t link that to massive land reclamation without conducting highly competent and independent EIA and other impact studies (as opposed to EIAs prepared by consultants on the payroll of developers).
Both public transport and land reclamation are separate issues which warrant careful independent study; so these two distinct areas should be studied and assessed separately with full prior public consultation and participatory decision-making. They should NOT be intertwined via land-for-infrastructure swap deals.
Who is responsible for getting us into this dilemma by intertwining these two areas via such ill-conceived swap deals? Perhaps, any compensation payable (if at all) should come out of the private pockets of those responsible – and not out of public money.