Noisy protest against Class 3 and 4 hillslope development projects
They call it ‘cacerolazo‘ or ‘cacerolada‘ in Latin America – that’s a form of protest involving a group of people creating a racket by banging pots, pans and other utensils to draw attention to their cause.
This afternoon, in Tanjung Bunga, residents used this form of protest to loud effect during a Valentine’s Day ‘tea party’ to protest at property development projects on steep hill-slopes. Some one hundred residents turned up in Chee Seng Garden in front of the Bolton Surin project, calling on the Chief Minister and the state government to stop the project for good.
They are also calling for an end to all Class 3 and 4 hill-slope projects, saying they do not want to see a repeat of the Highland Tower and Bukit Antarabangsa tragedies. Led by long-time Chee Seng Garden resident Andrew Aeria, the crowd observed a minute’s silence for the victims of the tragedies.
Andrew, using a loud hailer, said that residents were wondering whose interest the state government has at heart: the developers’ or the people’s. “We voted for change because we wanted the state government to make a difference,” he said. “If we don’t see any change, we know what we have to do.”
Not only was there a greater risk of landslides, water catchment areas too are affected.
Andrew said protests against such projects would continue at other locations and even in Komtar until the state government heeds the message. He said:
When Highland Towers and Bukit Antarabangsa collapsed, the DAP were very critical of the BN government for allowing a series of human errors and other abuses to occur that ultimately led to such horrible human disasters. And yet, when they now are in charge as the Penang Government, this DAP/PR government refuses to do anything to protect our lives and our property by shutting down these dangerous hill-slope condo projects. If the Selangor PR government can ban or freeze all dangerous hillslope developments – which they did last year – why can’t this PR government in Penang do the same?
Why is this DAP/PR government so afraid of beng sued by the developers? Shut down the projects and let them sue-lah! After all, if they sue you, then the DAP will become more popular with us here. And that would help the DAP/PR win the next general election. But if this chicken-hearted DAP/PR government does not shut down these projects, then we know what to do when the next election comes. And if the developer sues the DAP/PR government, you think the developers can win so easily? And if the DAP/PR shuts down these projects and gets sued and still loses the next general election, the problem of legal liability reverts to the BN. So, as we see it, the DAP/PR government has nothing to lose and everything to gain by shutting down these dangerous hillslope projects. Failing which, we shall shut down this DAP/PR government when the time comes.
When we the voters elected the DAP/PR government into power, we gave them their jobs. They are now where they are because of us. And yet they are more interested in listening to housing developers than to us today. Why is this? Did the DAP/PR get any special benefit from these housing developers? Why are developers more powerful and influential than us the voters? We voted for change, NOT for SAME.! If we wanted same, we would have voted for the BN-lah in March last year!
All of us Tg Bungah residents here, local or foreign, please tell everyone we know, via word of mouth or via the internet, “Don’t buy into these dangerous hill-slope projects.” Tell all your friends and acquaintances all over the world. Don’t buy into these projects here in Chee Seng! There is no guarantee that they will not fall down on us sometime in the future. After all, the slope is a Class III & Class IV slope. Even the Ministry of Environment in 2002 issued guidelines to all state governments telling them not to approve developments on these types of dangerous slopes. So, if the BN can say, “Don’t develop dangerous hill-slopes, why can’t this DAP/PR government, why can’t YAB CM Lim Guan Eng, stop these projects? What’s so difficult here?”
And there is no slope maintenance going to happen here in these projects. So, if perchance the projects do collapse, it will likely take us all down with it. Especially if you buy a condo here. So, don’t buy into these dangerous hill-slope projects if you want to live a long life since the risks are very high here.
We don’t want anymore temporary “stop work orders” from MPPP or the state government for these projects. We just want an order issued to the developers “to stop the projects”. Stop the Projects! Stop the Projects! Stop the Projects!” Anything else, we are not interested.
We came here to day because we fear for our safety of our families and our homes and property. Who is going to protect us when there is nothing – no government authority and no plan even by the developers – to protect and maintain the dangerous hill slope in the years to come? The state government by virtue of its constitutional rights over land issues thus has the responsibility to set up a slope maintenance agency in Penang to maintain all dangerous hill slopes. We want this state government to set up a slope maintenance agency in Penang immediately.
We want the state government to stop ALL current and approved (but not yet constructed) dangerous hill-slope projects in Tg Bungah and in Penang. Start here in Chee Seng. There are other dangerous projects likein Jln Tan Jit Seng, Diamond villa, etc. STOP all of them.
Each time the various speakers made a pertinent point, the protesters banged their pots and kettles with ladles in support.
The event was organised by the Tanjung Bunga Residents Association with the participation of residents groups and condominium management committees in the area.
Also present was Teh Yee Cheu, the DAP state assembly member for Tanjung Bunga, who promised residents he would bring their concerns and demands to the attention of the state government.
The organisers had informed the police ahead of the event. Just before the event began, a dark blue landrover with half a dozen uniformed police, bearing perspex shields, arrived but parked discreetly some distance away. About half a dozen uniformed police and other plainclothes police observed proceedings a short distance away but allowed the event to proceed without a hitch.