Restaurant owner in the dark over illegal status

One of the structures in Balik Pulau that was mentioned in the Auditor-General’s Report as among those allegedly built without approval from the authorities. — Picture by Malay Mail
One of the structures in Balik Pulau that was mentioned in the Auditor-General’s Report as among those allegedly built without approval from the authorities. — Picture by Malay Mail

GEORGE TOWN, Nov 26 — The illegal earthworks in Penang exposed in the 2014 Auditor-General’s (A-G's) Report have raised eyebrows, including those of an alleged illegal restaurant owner on a hill in Balik Pulau.

The owner, who declined to be identified, was in the dark about the findings of the audit and expressed shock that her restaurant was built without the approval from the city council.

“My restaurant illegal? (sic) I do not know which report you are referring to. It is shocking. I will not comment until I have seen the report and talk to the council,” she said.

Balik Pulau’s Pondok Upeh village development and security committee secretary Mohamad Ali Ismail said the construction of illegal structures was caused by errant developers who start their projects before obtaining the required approvals from the local council.

He said residents were ignorant about illegal land clearings, especially on hills, as the projects did not affect them.

“But we will not know what may happen in the future if the earthworks continue. 

“In 2014, massive floods hit Kelantan due to illegal logging. It might happen here,” he said.

The A-G’s Report revealed that 268 plots of privately-owned land on 31 hill areas were cleared without obtaining the required approvals from the state authorities since 2012.

The report also said 11 illegal structures, including hotels, restaurants and chalets, were built on hills in Sungai Ara, Teluk Bahang, Balik Pulau and Teluk Kumbar.

The authorities took action against the developers and landowners between 2013 and this year for carrying out five illegal projects.

The offenders were issued fines amounting to RM190,000. Some 11 cases are still pending in court while 15 more are still under investigations.

The council issued stop-work notices under Section 70A (4) of the Street, Drainage and Building Act 1974 to several parties behind the illegal earthworks. But five of them did not comply with the order, including three from the northeast district and two from the southwest district.

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