The Penang Forum is an umbrella grouping of some of the main NGOs in Penang. The steering committee of the grouping has issued the following statement:
The Steering Committee of the Penang Forum is deeply disappointed and concerned that the Penang State Government has recently obtained an order from the High Court to strike out a court application made by the Tanjung Bungah Residents Association (TBRA) for legal clarification on whether Tanjung Bungah falls within the secondary or primary corridor in the Penang Structure Plan.
We are of the view that the State Government should have done the honourable thing to allow the Court to decide on the substantive issue of the case.
The State Government is fully aware of the fears and grievances of the residents of Tanjung Bungah over the controversial modification of the sketch map in the Structure Plan as it had relocated Tanjung Bungah from the secondary development corridor (with a density limit of 15 units per acre) to the primary corridor (which allows a much higher density limit of 30 units per acre).
The amendment was only made to the sketch map and it was not re-publicised and re-exhibited before it was gazetted in 2007. The public did not have the opportunity to object to the amended sketch map. The amendment and inconsistencies with the written texts and the rationale in the Structure Plan was only discovered by TBRA in 2009.
After a protracted debate between the State and TBRA over the questionable amendment, TBRA was eventually told by the State to take the matter to court for a judicial decision.
We are therefore extremely disappointed that the State Government had thereafter applied to strike out the application by TBRA for a court declaration on a purely technical point.
We urge the State Government to act in good faith, by reviewing the Penang Structure Plan 2020 immediately, and to rectify the discrepancy in the sketch map in accordance with the entire text of the Structure Plan.
We also urge the State Government to stop allowing higher densities in development projects as they contradict those in the existing Structure Plan.
We have been informed that a more detailed draft Local Plan for Penang Island has been completed since 2008 and we call upon the State to publish and circulate the draft Local Plan for public feedback as soon as possible.
We fully support the State Government’s efforts to legislate the Freedom of Information Act and laud its recent exhibition of the Special Area Plan for George Town to obtain public feedback.
We hope that the State Government would give the residents of Penang an opportunity to engage with the State and to offer their views and opinions on planning and development proposals which would no doubt affect every resident living in Penang.
Ms Lim Kah Cheng & Dr Francis Loh
(on behalf of the Penang Forum Steering Committee)