SAM Comment on Increasing Environment Related Issues in Penang

Over the past few years, Penang has seen a rise in environment related issues. Among the problems are pollution of Penang’s rivers and sea; increased development on hills that have riddled hill slopes with exposed and unstable soil; increase in number of flash floods after heavy downpours; poor air quality due to transboundary haze and local sources of pollution; stench emitting from drains and outlets; increasing generation of waste and enforcement issues. Coastal reclamation and other development in the coastal zone have also contributed to the destruction of the natural coastal ecosystem.

Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) finds that the beauty of Penang’s natural environment is rapidly losing its shinedue to the rapid pace of development.  Based on the complaints received and our observation, we find that environmental pollution is still prevalent despite the Penang Government’s programme for a Cleaner, Greener Penang.

The state government surely realizes that uncontrolled development will bring about social, economic and environmental challenges. With continued industrialization, lack of enforcement and sprawling housing development even on hills, the health of Penang’s ecosystem is in danger of deterioration if left unchecked.

SAM urges the Penang state government and local authorities to stringently enforce existing regulations. Continuous monitoring needs to be done to ensure pollution is curbed and the environment is protected. Besides enforcing the Environmental Quality Act 1974, the Department of Environment in collaboration with others should increase the delivery and effectiveness of its environmental education programmes.

The state is also urged to gazette all forests and mangroves as permanent reserved forests and not allow any development projects on hills and gazetted agricultural land. We urge the Penang state government and all relevant authorities to do the needful in ensuring that each proposed development that is implemented does not affect the environment and the lives of local residents.

The people of Penang, besides traders and developers should also play their role in keeping Penang really Clean and Green.  It should not remain a mere slogan but upheld. All of us have to play our part to ensure a better life for all.

Media Statement, 12 February 2014