Not right to start reclamation when fishermen’s legal appeal against project still pending, says group

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

GEORGE TOWN, Sept 1 — The Silicon Island reclamation project should not start until the fishermen’s legal appeal challenging its environmental impact assessment (EIA) under the Environmental Quality Act 1974 have run its course, a non-governmental organisation said today.

Jaringan Ekologi dan Iklim (JEDI) vice-president Andrew Han said the appeal process is still ongoing currently.

“It is only fair that the state government and the Department of Environment (DoE) allow it to run its course before initiating any form of construction or groundwork,” he said, referring to the announcement by Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow today that preliminary works to reclaim the island started today.

The fishermen are appealing to the DoE Appeal Board against the approval of the EIA, but hearing date is yet to be set.

Han said the sudden announcement of the reclamation works was not fair towards the coastal fishermen.

“We can’t help but wonder about the urgency behind this decision,” he said.

He said many of the fishermen were caught off guard by the announcement today.

“Not only does this cast a shadow on their immediate catch, but it also raises concerns about their safety, which has not been adequately addressed,” he said.

He said this has led to confusion and distress among the fishermen.

Meanwhile, Penang Forum’s Khoo Salma said seafood sources from the Straits of Melaka is more important now for food security due to concerns over the release of the treated radioactive water from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean.

“We appeal to the Penang government and federal Madani government not to proceed with PSR and to do a new cost benefit analysis,” she said.

Silicon Island, previously known as the Penang South Islands (PSI) and alternatively Penang South Reclamation (PSR), is a scaled down version of the originally planned three-island project.

The state government has scaled it down to only one island of about 920ha.

Both the Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) and Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) also appealed to the state and federal governments to cancel the project.

“We wish to know if the state government has obtained the planning permission to commence the project under the Town and Country Planning Act 1976,” they asked in a joint statement.

They said it is a legal requirement which needs to be followed before the project started.

“The scaling down of the project from three islands to one island has not allayed our concerns and those of the fishing community,” they said.

They said the project is not needed as there are more than sufficient lands on the mainland for any expansion of economic activities.