Abandon the cable car project and improve housing for the poor

Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) calls on the Penang State Government not to build a cable car connecting Botanical Gardens to the Penang Hill summit as it will have serious consequences for our environment and health. The well-being of the people and the integrity of our environment should not be sacrificed at the altar of tourist dollars.

The provision of a cable car would lead to the construction of hotels, restaurants, theme parks, homes and roads to cater for the increased number of tourists and residents. Such development will have disastrous impacts on the fragile hill environment and endanger ecological balance.

Last November, before the Federal allocation of RM 100 million for the  cable car, Penang Chief Minister Chow KonYeow announced the building of two hotels on the hill, one in a forest reserve area and, in January this year, he said Penang Hill could be turned into a premier holiday destination, like Genting Highlands. Such building activity is bound to lead to loss of forest cover and pollution of streams on the hill. It will result in the reduction of habitats and consequent extinction of valuable plants, animals, birds, and insects.

Its impact will also cause soil erosion, degraded land slopes and increased landslides.  The authorities have obviously not learnt any lesson from the storm and the floods two years ago which caused massive landslides, uprooted many trees and cut off communication on the hill.

Currently more than 5000 people go up the hill and this is already exceeding the carrying capacity of the hill. Further increase in the number of visitors and residents, as planned by the government, will produce a substantial hike in the consumption of resources – food, water, and energy – and production of waste.

Waste can cause great damage to the hill ecosystems. The hill does not have adequate sewage and waste disposal facilities to handle the waste generated by large numbers of tourists and residents.

The cable car station is to be located in the midst of the Youth Park and the Botanical Gardens. Thousands of people – children, men, women, and senior citizens – go to these two major open parks for exercise, and to enjoy the peace and tranquility in the green surrounding.

The effect of placing the station there will be to exacerbate the traffic congestion there and in the neighboring areas. Atmospheric and noise pollution will reach unacceptable limits and ruin the pleasure of those who patronise the Park and the Gardens. Tourist buses and private cars will spew out dangerous exhaust gasses and produce irritable noise.

The construction of the cable car and the ensuing human activities on the hill and the station will produce large amounts of carbon dioxide and thereby increase our carbon footprint. This is in clear violation of Malaysia’s commitment under the United Nation Sustainable Development Goals to reduce the carbon footprint.

The Federal contribution of RM 100 million could be better used to provide affordable housing for the lower income group and to improve public health care.

Our leaders, and many other leaders in the world, are wedded to the neoliberal model of economic development. They are, like the lemmings, blindly pursuing the path of economic growth, leading to the destruction of our environment, and global warming that threaten the very survival of our planet.


Press Release, 18 October 2019