Batu Ferringhi Beach blues


This is the Batu Ferringhi Beach we know and love, and we should do everything in our power to protect it and the rest of our coastline from pollution and nasty effluents.

Thanks to blog visitor Syerleena Abdul Rashid for the photos.

It is good that we see the positive images of the beach; so that we know why we need to preserve the place.

As we have seen, sections of the mainstream media are having a field day painting Penang in a bad light (as if there are no other polluted beaches elsewhere in Malaysia). What about all those monsoon drains and other rivers carrying toxic effluents straight to the sea without being treated? Is this just a Penang problem?

It would be tragic if we only focus on Batu Ferringhi – just because there are big bucks at stake there thanks to the tourism, hotel and upmarket housing sectors. Would people have been jumping up and down had this happened at any other location?

What about industrial effluents and shipping discharges into the sea in Penang and elsewhere in the country? And the impact of all that land reclamation on the rest of our coastlines?

As for Batu Ferringhi, it would seem none of the relevant agencies wants to take responsibility. What is IWK’s role in all this? And does anyone know exactly what the Department of the Environment does? What does JPS do?

From what I understand, the sole treatment plant in Batu Ferringhi, built in the 1970s, has a capacity of 30000 people-equivalent, and this may have been surpassed (someone mentioned a figure of 35000?). And the water quality monitoring system is said to be not functioning.

IWK treatment plant in Batu Ferringhi - Photograph: Malay Mail
IWK treatment plant in Batu Ferringhi – Photograph: Malay Mail

Should anything be flushed into the sea, especially in an area where people are swimming?

IWK, for its part, admitted today that it had released the effluent but then insisted it was treated and safe. According to the Malay Mail:

GEORGE TOWN, Feb 7 — Sewage treatment operator Indah Water Konsortium Sdn Bhd (IWK) admitted today it had released “earthy-coloured” effluents into a Penang river but maintained the discharge is safe.

IWK senior communications manager Shahrul Nizam Sulaiman refuted claims the company had polluted Sungai Batu Ferringhi here, saying it only released treated effluents into the river.

“On Tuesday, there was some maintenance works so a valve from the aeration tank was loose for about 20 minutes which resulted in the release of brownish water into the river at about 10am,” he said after showing reporters around IWK’s Batu Feringghi treatment plant, located next to the river.

But Penang State ExCo member for the environment Phee Boon Poh is not a happy camper. He left these comments on Facebook on separate occasions in response to a posting by the CM’s special investment officer, Jeffrey Chew:

Phee Boon Poh: We have been monitoring the situation afew months ago. The last meeting I attended just before CNY I have expressed State Government unhappiness on the discharge from the stand alone IWK Plant.

Evidence at yesterday meeting IWK was told straight into their face of the evidence gather and place on the meeting table. Two rivers in Island is been environmentally contaminated and polluted by the discharge from their plant. Must seek compensation for damages NOT ONLY UNDER THE PRESENT ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY BYLAW 2009 which is only RM2,000-00.

They thought CNY we are on holidays. WE ARE ALL ON FULL ALERT AND STANBY. They thought they can do anything and we will not be aware. Sorry my friend, IWK take responsibility. Polluters must PAY. Not the innocent taxpayers. They have paid their dues. Now you have to pay for the damages you gave caused.

We will pursue the case. Enough is Enough. We have ask MPPP and JPS to file claim on the cost of remediation of the rivers and sea. The consumers must be protected on good quality and cleanliness. The tourist industries must be protected. Federal Government MUST STOP PROTECTING IWK. A CRIME IS A CRIME. THIS IS A CRIME AGAINST ENVIRONMENT.

Last year the EXCO summoned IWK to the EXCO MEETING to explain the situation which is fast collapsing. It is indeed very shameful on the part of the Federal Authority who failed in the responsibility.

This is what we are appealing for give back the power of enforcement to the State Authority. Right now only two agencies can enforced on IWK. DOE with limited authority and nominal compound and the other is SPAN. Both are Federal agencies.

YAB is definitely talking with them (not to them or about them). Timbalan He Ketua Kengarah – Ketua Bahagian Penguatkuasaan JAS flew out of Putrajaya to chair yesterday meeting and put his foot down in full acceptance of facts of illegal discharge presented by the MPPP officer.

In point of facts since day one I have been telling IWK of the “overflow” into Taman Drainage System is Health hazard. Most of the Plant in the earlier housing estates outside their Sewage System is failing and cannot meet the Standard A parameter.

Quite different from what you may have read in the mainstream papers, no?

I understand IWK is now meeting the Penang state government at a 3.00pm meeting to present its side of the story.

The lesson to be learned from all this is that before new projects are approved, care must be taken to ensure there is proper supporting infrastructure: public transport, pedestrian pavements, traffic dispersal, utilities, sewerage system, schools, hospitals etc for present AND future needs.

Speaking about the environment, I received a phone call today complaining about Botak Hill looking pretty bad from the Penang Bridge. Restoration work, not just remedial work, must be taken to bring the hill back close to its original condition.

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19 Feb 2014 1.45pm

Smile and keep my finger crossed.
From the satellite , the treament plant seems located at
5.466518, 100.244720
It is not a small landscape for a 30,000 population treatment plant, for using 70’s mechanism. In fact, I assume the upgrade is out of the league of iwk management. Mahathirism central-privatisation of all this utilities is not going to work at all. iwk just doesn’t have the capital to cope with population growth.

It make me wonder how the sewage treatment in East side of Penang Island, where population is denser. It is a disaster awaiting across the whole Malaysia.

19 Feb 2014 2.42pm
Reply to  Anil Netto

Privatisation I s not national policy originally. It is something that countries like Malaysia were cajoled into adopting under the ADB and World Bank imperatives which were later re formulated to be included in the GATT and Uruguay round where bi lateral agreements were overseen by the big countries.

Always worth looking at who the contractors were, who the foreign observers were and who benefitted most from these projects. Attacking Mahathir alone is not enough. I tis a common bogey man for the less enlightened amongst us.

19 Feb 2014 10.13pm
Reply to  Anil Netto

Corporatisation + privatisation = wealth creation for the rich, wealthy & powerful.
But in BolehLand, this formula doesn’t always work. Just look at PROTON: PROblems by the TONs.

9 Feb 2014 10.21am

could this be conspiracy theory to discredit the affluent properties in northern part of Penang in order to drive the price down; and so that investors look elsewhere like Balik Pulau or WorldCity Penang for long term investment ?????????

8 Feb 2014 2.39pm

Lim Guan Eng’s fault ???

Many many years ago there was no Indah Water, all was under PBA (and the local councils). Then, one day came the great m privatised all he could and creating Indah water to suck the blood out of the rakyat…

After sucking the blood and when problem arises like now, what they do best like always is denial…

Lim Guan Eng punya pasal la the sewege leaks out, it has got nothing to do with Indah Water la…

8 Feb 2014 10.51pm
Reply to  kee

This environmental ‘crime’ is AOK when they called it maintenance at work, which means ‘dirtying’ the beach thro’ this unsavoury act is quite acceptable to IWK standards. Bull…! What will happen if this unsavoury act is repeated in Langkawi right next to a politician doctor’s home or in Melaka’s touristy longkang.

I smell a sabotage to Penang’s tourism, don’t you agree?

8 Feb 2014 1.21pm

It is amazing that people only now realize that Batu Ferrighi, Tangung Bungah and in fact most beaches in Penang have been identified as being dumps for effluent and breeding ground for all sorts of bacteria and disease. Its been going on for ages. The personal hygiene of the traders and residents in the areas that now abut the beach fronts have been a lesson in filth and public apathy for decades. The traders in particular from the 1970′ were throwing rubbish into the water as if it were a dumping ground. The residents of Tanjung Bungah once in late… Read more »

8 Feb 2014 4.10pm
Reply to  grkumar

Ai yoh! It already happened in the 1970s how come gerakan didnt do anything one, how can?

O ya i remember, back then no internet, maklum la !!!

8 Feb 2014 10.20pm
Reply to  kee

oh my goodness the problem is with the LGE state govt and now try to put the blame retrospective 30 years before. Yes just like the Selangor PR DAP, PKR & PAS state govt that seize the bibles but the blame is on Najib. … Now what next for the opposition for DAP, PKR and PAS to sensationalize.

7 Feb 2014 11.03pm

You take other’s sewage water to treat, charge a fee & then throw the so-called ‘treated’ water back to the environment.
What is this? Better change name from Indah to Kotor.
At lease my aroma Kopi-O kau kau though blackish in colour is still drinkable than the ‘indah’ water off Batu Ferringhi beach.

7 Feb 2014 8.44pm

All these excuses by IWK is PATHETIC..

People should know that if they go to Singapore’s Marina Bay – that body of water the Singapore River and Kallang River in the heart of the city, which are urban run-offs from rain, flows into – its not only safe to swim in it, they drink from it.

14 Feb 2014 5.11pm
Reply to  bigjoe

Don’t you just love it when people compare Penang to Singapore? Truth is DAP supporters probably prefer Hong Kong’s free for all development style vs the ‘nation building’ authoritarian style that is Singapore any day. Any day now Chungking Mansions will pop up in Georgetown.

15 Feb 2014 6.42am
Reply to  bigjoe

But then again Singaporeans are conditioned to eating and drinking anything put in their mouths by the government there. They have traded choice and free will for money. Let them eat cake….

15 Feb 2014 4.57pm
Reply to  grkumarGop

Penang can be like Singland but under a hegemonistic gomen ala LKY top-down stewardship.
That will never happen.
Btw, we are Malaysians with Malaysian solutions.

7 Feb 2014 4.13pm

Yeh sure DAP exco and MPPP are sleeping if not for the highlight by the Star and NST and yet we have readers from here criticizing the media for highlighting it.

Andrew I
Andrew I
8 Feb 2014 5.01pm
Reply to  Ananars

Funny how some readers in this blog are still trying to pin it on the state exco when indah water has apologized for the leak.