An online petition to save the nesting spots of the Olive Ridley turtles in Penang has astonishingly drawn support from some 133,000 people around the world.
The coastline off southern Penang Island will soon be swamped by the massive 4,500-acre three-island land property development project – at a time when Malaysia is faced with a staggering 50,000 completed but unsold properties and a falling total fertility rate. What kind of hopeless planning is this?
The environmentally damaging reclamation projects in Penang have now come under the glare of the global spotlight.
Another petition opposing the land reclamation itself has received 45,000 signatures while a rival petition in support of the reclamation has fallen into a deep coma, unable to muster even 2,000 signatures.
Check out the video above. It is not only the turtles that will be affected in southern Penang Island. The area is also a major zone for prawn catches. Imagine what will happen to the prices of prawns and other fresh fish, which have already soared, when supplies dwindle even further.
What a shame that the federal and Penang governments are unable to heed the growing concern over the degradation of this priceless coastal fisheries zone. The DoE has shamelessly given the green light for this project – with a host of conditions that few will lose sleep over. Makes you wonder whether DoE stands for Developers over Environment.
Have those backing this project even considered rising sea levels, which some estimate could go up by as high as four metres by the end of this century? Have they considered the erosion of food security for the people of Penang and the loss of livelihoods for several thousand Penang fishermen? And who will pay for coastal repairs and dredging work? Have they even thought of the impact of sand-mining in the coastal waters off Perak on the livelihoods of some 6,000 Perak fishermen?
In the struggle between profit-driven developers and sustainable coastal fishermen, we can see clearly see who is supporting each side.