No to Crematorium Project in Air Itam – 4,140 signatures submitted

The Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) and several residents of Air Itam submitted a petition with 4,140 signatures to the State Government of Penang, Majlis Bandaraya Pulau Pinang (MBPP) and the Department of Environment (DOE) – Bayan Lepas Branch, objecting the siting of a crematorium in Mukim 16, Bandar Air Itam.

The signatures were collected over the course of one month in Air Itam. Ms. Ching Chooi Ngoh, 46 years old, a resident of Jalan Balik Pulau, who led the entourage of protestors, said building a crematorium project here is not conducive and inharmonious with the environment.
Among the people who signed on to the petition were concerned Penangites, residents of Air Itam, joggers, cyclists, nature lovers and tourists. Most of them were not aware of the upcoming project here and expressed their surprise that approval was given to build a crematorium near a nature haven, water catchment and tourist spot.

The Department of Environment, in a letter to CAP dated 5 June 2015 stated that one of the conditions of approval in 2009 of the crematorium project here is that fuel burning installation such as burners, boilers, furnaces, etc. are not allowed. Whereas according to the MBPP, the Committee of the One Stop Centre (OSC) on September 2013 approved one unit of chamber at the crematorium block. At the meeting with the authorities today CAP thus requested clarification of these contradicting approvals.

A letter from the OSC to the proponent, Kek Lok Si Temple, dated 17 September 2013 stated that approval for the crematorium block is only for the use of monks and nuns and an additional 150 senior refuge sisters, male upasaka and female upasika. We wonder which authority is going to monitor who is being cremated and if there is a possibility for the crematorium to be opened for public use after some time.

The MBPP and DOE received our objections but the State government representative was reluctant to accept the petition. CAP insisted that the State EXCO took responsibility over the matter and finally we managed to submit our objections to YB Chow Kon Yeow. The State government of Penang should keep up to its “Competency, Accountability and Transparency” policy, be people-friendly and honour the rakyat’s objection.

We urge the State government, MBPP and DOE to listen to the demands and objection of the people and scrap the crematorium project here.

Press release, 27 July 2015