Penang – A Developer’s Paradise

CAP and SAM read with disdain regarding another proposed mammoth development project, this time in Batu Ferringhi. The development rush in Penang is beginning to wreak havoc due to the island’s inability to absorb the burden of development. From the hills to the beaches, very few places are held sacred.

 Penang has lost its charm, slowly losing its greenery and its original shoreline. Even traditional villages are slowly losing out to urbanization, with many kampongs disappearing, and only their names remaining to jolt our memory

Penang Island has become a paradise for developers and no longer a haven for locals who love the originality and uniqueness of the Pearl of the Orient.

A drive around Penang island has become quite scary due to high-rises on the hill sides, even in nooks and corners where we would not expect them. Whether the buildings are fully occupied or not is not a question to be raised, as the State becomes very defensive over it.

It is not surprising that residents adjacent to the new project envisioned in the Sungai Mas area in Batu Ferringhi have raised their objection to the Municipal Council of Penang Island (MPPP). We hope that MPPP will seriously consider the residents’ objections as all the issues raised by the local community here are valid based on the carrying capacity of the area.

The problem here is developers get away without doing a comprehensive social and environmental impact assessment (EIA) for projects that are not considered prescribed activities under the EIA Order. We had on numerous occasions urged for EIAs and extended public consultation to be carried out to seek public opinion on projects that would have an impact on the environment and socio-economy of the people. Consultation should not be limited to owners of land adjoining the proposed project.

Turning Penang into an international city should not be our aim. What we want is a healthy liveable habitat which is in harmony with nature and the needs of local communities. We urge the Penang government and the local authorities to do a comprehensive study on the carrying capacity of the State and the demand for housing before approving more development projects.

Press Comment, 5 September 2014