Penalize and blacklist errant developers for illegal clearing


Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) and the Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) welcome news reports stating that the Penang Island Municipal Council (MPPP) has received the green light from the deputy public prosecutor’s office to take legal action against those who illegally cleared land in Bukit Relau.

SAM and CAP laud the move and request the prosecution to seek a strong deterrent sentence i.e. maximum fine including a jail term for the alleged offender in the event he/they are found guilty. This would serve as an example and prevent others from starting a project before obtaining prior approval from the relevant authority.

The developer had not only caused destruction to the hill environment but also blatantly disregarded the authority and law.   Merely imposing a fine would not be adequate as it would be minimal expense for the offender.

We also recommend that developers who flout the law are blacklisted by the Ministry of Housing and Local Government.  These stringent measures would ensure that developers adhere to rules and regulations and prevent future exploitation such as the one in Bukit Relau, Penang.

While the decision to prosecute the alleged offender is laudable, we are concerned why the illegal activity was allowed to be continued without the MPPP, the Department of Forestry and Department of Environment taking any action. The destruction of the hill was visible for miles.

We support the call made by the MPPP councillor Encik Lim Mah Hui that the council set up an independent committee to study the lapses on the part of the authorities to prevent illegal activities on the hills and to make recommendation to improve the law enforcement machinery.

We need to protect our fragile hills from development, preserve the character of Penang Island and keep development away from lands with environmentally sensitive features.

Letter to the Editor, 5 July 2013