Developers have no respect towards state government, Penang NGO claims

Chant Citizen Awareness Group, through its adviser Yan Lee, said that the developers were not scared to conduct illegal land clearing and illegal demolition as the fine that they would have to pay for the offence was too low. — Picture by K.E. Ooi
Chant Citizen Awareness Group, through its adviser Yan Lee, said that the developers were not scared to conduct illegal land clearing and illegal demolition as the fine that they would have to pay for the offence was too low. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

GEORGE TOWN, May 11 — A local based Non-Government Organisation (NGO) today highlighted that the developers in the state are not scared of the state government.

Chant Citizen Awareness Group, through its adviser Yan Lee, said that the developers were not scared to conduct illegal land clearing and illegal demolition as the fine that they would have to pay for the offence was too low.

“Hills had been cut, historical buildings had been demolished illegally but the company would only pay a small fine under the Street, Drainage and Building Act 1974,” he told reporters here today.

Under Section 70A (1) of the Street, Drainage and Buildings Act 1974, the defaulter will face five years of imprisonment or a maximum fine of RM50,000 or both.

He said that the developers were not scared of the law because the local council itself and the state government could not do anything to prevent it from happening.  

Yan Lee calimed that several unfortunate events of illegal hill clearing such as at Bukit Kukus in Paya Terubong and the latest illegal land clearing in Teluk Bahang to build a Shaolin martial arts temple, international school, college, four-star hotel and over 2,100 residential units.

“In the previous state assembly sitting, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng had announced that there would be drones to monitor hill slopes to prevent illegal hill clearing. What is the status of it now?” he questioned.

Besides the Street, Drainage and Buildings Act 1974, another law that could be used was under Section 19 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1976, which carries a maximum penalty of RM500,000 and/or imprisonment of not more than two years upon conviction.

Till now, no environmental offenders or illegal demolishers had been sent to jail for the crime they commit. 

The group adviser had also submitted a letter to the Penang Institute which is the state’s think-tank group to seek for their guidance to help the state government to tackle the illegal land clearing problems.

“This problem is getting worse day by day and I hope the Penang Institute would help protect Penang from illegal land clearing and illegal demolition in future,” he said. — Bernama

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