The RM7.3m tender for the road-widening work was awarded in April 2012, but the MPPP only invited NGOs for a ‘consultation’ on 30 November, just days before the trees are to be removed.
This strikes me as a sham consultation, more a public relations exercise to defuse opposition to the removal of the trees. This is typical of the way such ‘consultation’ is carried out for similar controversial projects – mere public relations exercises so that later they can say, “See, we had consultation”.
In reality, everything is already done and dusted and decided, and then they want to ‘consult’. Why bother ‘consulting’ when everything is already decided – except if the only objective to defuse potential opposition. Typical corporate public relations strategy.
Here is the MPPP’s announcement of the successful tender bid for the RM7.3m project earlier this year.
A local NGO has written to the MPPP complaining about such shambolic consultation:
7 December 2012 URGENT BY HAND/FAX
YBhg. Hjh. Patahiyah binti Ismail
Majlis Perbandaran Pulau Pinang
Tingkat 17 Menara KOMTAR
10675 PULAU PINANG
Yang Berbahagia Hjh.
Objection to cutting or shifting of trees in Jalan Masjid Negeri
CAP is shocked to learn from press reports that the MPPP is intending to commence work on Monday on its plans to widen Jalan Masjid Negeri and eliminate some 62 trees in the process. It would appear that the date of commencement of the works has been deliberately brought by the authorities as originally it was stated that the work on the project would only begin on or around the 13th or 14th of December 2012.
The indecent haste with which the whole project is being pushed through despite public protests shows a complete disregard for public opinion. It also confirms CAP’s view that the dialogue held on November 30 by the MPPP’s engineering department with NGOs was a mere sop to assuage public concern after the relevant contracts to proceed with the work had already been signed and sealed. This is not public consultation in any meaningful sense.
If the authorities believe that by railroading the project and presenting the critics with fait accompli, they can put an end to the whole controversy, they are sadly mistaken. Such conduct will only erode public confidence in the workings of the MPPP and its crediblity. Such a bureaucratic way of resolving a matter of public interest will raise serious questions as to whose interests the MPPP is serving.
We therefore urge the MPPP to postpone the commencement of the works to allow for a fuller consultation on the matter. The authorities must take environmental matters more seriously instead of brushing them aside as a nuisance. They must constitute a central concern in any development plan.
We look forward to your immediate reply.
S M Mohamed Idris
Consumers Association of Penang & Sahabat Alam Malaysia