A string of NGOs in Penang held a packed press conference at the Penang Heritage Trust office to call on state and local authorities to take stronger action against the developer responsible for the hill destruction at Bukit Relau.
In particular, they want the authorities to use the Town and Country Planning Act, which allows for a maximum fine of RM500000, for unauthorised development. The TCPA also allows for the lifting of the corporate veil to make directors and other top officer personally responsible, which could even result in imprisonment of up to two years.
Instead of the TCPA, the authorities had used the Street, Drainage and Building Act, which only allows for a maximum fine of RM50000 – without holding the directors personally liable. (The developer was fined RM30000 and the authorities are now appealing for a higher fine.)
The NGOs also want the company and other companies associated with the directors to be blacklisted.
In addition, the NGOs want all development activities on this hill-top stopped and no permission to be granted for the project.
They also want the hill-top restored to its original condition using new ‘restoration ecology’ methods. They are also calling for the rezoning of the hill-top to be reversed.
They are also calling on the MPPP to make public the list of all special projects approved on its website.
Among the NGOs endorsing the call were Penang Forum, Malaysian Nature Society and five residents associations (Sungai Ara, Jesselton, Tanjong Bungah, Taman Sri Nibong and Bayan Bay.
Among the prominent individuals endorsing the call were Adun Dr Jayabalan, Dr Sharom Ahmat, Dr Leong Yueh Kwong, lawyer Agatha Foo, Kanda Kumar, Ahmad Chik and MPPP Councillor Muhd Bakhtiar.
Yueh Kwong pointed out that only 15 per cent of the whole of Penang state is covered in natural vegetation while just 9 per cent is gazetted as reserves.