Penang land reclamation: Socialisation of costs?


Another case of “privatisation of profits, socialisation of costs/losses”?

While certain firm(s) are making huge profits from land reclamation for their project(s) in Penang, the government, whether federal or state, may have to use public funds – that’s our money – to alleviate the damaging effects of land reclamation and mud-dumping.

A marine study commissioned by the state indicates that reclamation work has brought about significant siltation which affects the natural hydro-flow of Penang, theSun newspaper has revealed.

Reclamation may have caused changes in tidal currents
Himanshu Bhatt

GEORGE TOWN (Feb 1, 2010): Abnormal sedimentation in the wake of reclamation along Penang’s coastlines may have contributed to drastic changes in tidal currents in the Penang Channel and sea around the state.

A source told theSun that a marine study commissioned by the state indicated that reclamation work had brought about significant siltation to affect the natural hydro-flow of Penang’s coastal waters.

It is learnt that the study by the National Hydraulic Research Institute of Malaysia indicated that sea currents had had to change direction, pushing mud to be deposited along the island’s north-eastern coast and the Penang Channel.

The report in particular pointed to the Gurney Drive coastline and mud deposits after large-scale reclamation nearby.

It also addressed pollution at Split Head, at the mouth of the Prai River, where unauthorised dumping of mud by certain agencies may have caused backflow in the river to bring about serious flooding in inland areas.

It is understood that the state has since been in contact with these agencies to discuss alternative measures.

The findings of the study — whose methodology included scrutinising computerised simulation programmes of hydro-flow patterns during different tidal periods — were forwarded to the state in the middle of last year, the source said.

The study was mooted after the state received complaints about increasing coastal pollution, including in remote places like Balik Pulau and Pantai Kerachut.

Inshore fishermen who ply the Penang Channel said recently they had observed changing currents over the last 10 years.

In a report on Jan 19, theSun had quoted fishermen as saying they had seen certain stretches becoming shallower about the same time that reclamation had taken place there, while middle sections of the channel remained deep.

The affected areas include the vicinity of the site of a dragon boat training accident on Jan 17, in which five students and a teacher were killed when their boat with 18 people was hit by waves. Survivors recounted being pulled down by powerful undercurrents.

It is understood that the state has considered various remedial measures following the report, including ways to induce sea water to flow back into the Gurney Drive coastline.

One option is to employ suction engines to remove accumulated mud from the shoreline, the source said.

Another is to build artificial islands in front of Gurney Drive in such a way as to divert hydro-flow into the bay and prevent further mud siltation.

The state is also looking into the feasibility of planting mangroves along the shoreline and constructing a pier through the trees, from Gurney Drive into the sea, the source added.

There is also concern over the possible impact on hydro-flow, of a RM353 million channel deepening project by the Transport Ministry to allow large ships in, and the construction of the Second Penang Bridge. – theSun

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3 Feb 2010 2.17pm

Dear Anil. What KTK gave away in exchange for the Jelutong coastal highway is probably stacked in some reports and signed agreements within the MPPP or the state government. I trust the PR government will declassify those documents if any hanky panky is found. It doesn’t seem to be an improper deal thus far as the state government is now aware that the environment could have been impacted by those land fills and yet they have not raised any issue about this with the previous administration. Perhaps the attention given to your blog in this may trigger some investigation within… Read more »

3 Feb 2010 12.47pm

Anil, “Privatization of profit” is inaccurate. These cronies are not truly privately-initiated and privately-empowered. Nor do they compete on a free and private-sector basis. (Certain) crony reclamation winners (may have) got their contracts by sucking up to the government of the day, and likely (allegedly) bribing some of the members of government. As for the government, it got its power to allocate these contracts by centralizing powers from each and every citizen. This collection and granting of power to make dishonest profit is as much a socialist phenomenon as it is in China. Our system, as it was under Mahathirian… Read more »

3 Feb 2010 10.40am

Gerakan K,
Settle your issue with UMNO first

3 Feb 2010 9.54am

Gerakan K, This land reclamation started in the 1980s! Are just plain stupid or naive? All these sedimentation and abnormal erosion is the effect of 25-30 years of uncontrolled land reclamation. Don’t shoot your mouth without thinking

3 Feb 2010 6.29am

Gerakan – your so call smart thinking? How can one bde a dictator when he has to talk to his father?…

3 Feb 2010 3.02am

For any major Development project, The Preliminary Environmental Impact Assesment Report would have provided for clear structured mitigation measures in combating the negative impacts that could possibly arise if the project ever goes ahead. The Department of Environment and the other enforcement agencies are certainly sleeping on their job, and allowing the Developer to indiscriminately dumping WASTE on our shores. The EIA report would clearly specify The choice of the composition of the materials to be used for the reclaimation works to EXCLUDE CLAY AND SILT content. Good grade sand for proper reclaimation works can be harvested from ocean floors… Read more »

3 Feb 2010 12.09am

Tan Sri Koh TS got IJM to build the Jelutong expressway for free in exchange for coastal lands because of Penangites’ aversion to tolled roads after seeing what was happening in Kuala Lumpur.

We can’t really blame TS Koh for this because we didn’t want to pay toll and the state was too poor to build that coastal expressway. Meanwhile, heavy traffic was already choking the old Jelutong road.

3 Feb 2010 3.47pm
Reply to  Anil Netto


As an accountant, what is the cost of congested road? How are you going to resolve very heavily trafficed roads especially if your house is at the worst congested point? No healthy living.

Gerakan K
Gerakan K
2 Feb 2010 9.47pm

That dictator will not bother with your concern unless you talk to his father.

3 Feb 2010 11.15am
Reply to  Gerakan K

My dear Gerakan K. Do you not understand that this environmental damage happened during the administration of your beloved dear leader KTK? Do you not understand that such damage is the caused of LONG TERM reclamation projects enacted during the administration of your beloved dear leader KTK? Do you not understand that the damaged has been done & the environmental impact will have to be borne by future generations? We understand your undying loyalty to the ruling party & its … component parties and your undying love and admiration to your beloved dear leader KTK but… can you in future,… Read more »

3 Feb 2010 11.21pm
Reply to  Gerakan K

Gerakan K, you idiot, this reclamation was done long before he become CM, Check your fact first before you accuse. It is understood that the current state government has considered various remedial measures following the report. Don`t just blah blah like an UMNO goon….

2 Feb 2010 6.49pm

It is such a shame that companies make money at the expense of the eco system. But it is all a little too late for the damage has been done by the Gerakan/BN gormen. I hold Koh Su Koon personally responsible. There should be a law where damage caused by politicians decisions be punished by reparation, fines and jail terms. Only then political executives will be careful about their decisions.

For now, the damage is done