Suhakam to probe reclaimed land project

(From left) Zulkifli, Razali and Joseph at the site where construction of apartments are under way on reclaimed land. — Picture by Loghun Kumaran
(From left) Zulkifli, Razali and Joseph at the site where construction of apartments are under way on reclaimed land. — Picture by Loghun Kumaran

LUMUT, Sept 20 — The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) will be probing into reclamation works in Teluk Muroh, about 10km from here.

The reclamation project, which began last year, drew the ire of fishermen who claimed that it would destroy the environment and their source of income.

Gabungan Selamatkan Pantai Warisan Teluk Muroh, led by its pro-tem chairman Zulkifli Hamid, claimed that the fishermen were not consulted before the reclamation project began.

They also said the reclamation project has dramatically reduced the supply of shellfish in the area for about 117 Teluk Muroh fishermen.

After visiting the fishermen in the area yesterday, Suhakam chairman Tan Sri Razali Ismail said the commission would be launching an investigation.

“We will study this issue from a legal perspective before meeting with the government departments at district, state and federal levels,” he said.

Suhakam commissioner Jerald Joseph said the commission viewed the government as a duty bearer for the protection of human rights, while Suhakam played an advisory role.

“We are not opposed to development but we believe that development must also consider the human rights aspect,” he said.

“In this situation, it would be good if the authorities meet with the fishermen and find a solution.”

Zulkifli said the reclaimed land was slated to house the relocation of 42 squatter homes.

He said the group had tried to meet with the authorities to discuss the matter but to no avail.

“When the seas are rough, the fishermen rely on catching crabs and shellfish near the shore. In a day, one could easily rake in RM100 worth of crabs,” he said.

“But the reclamation project has driven the marine life away and our livelihood has been affected.”

Zulkifli said the fishermen were willing to compromise and listen to ideas from the authorities.

“We would not mind if they reclaimed a smaller area somewhere else. There are also many pieces of land nearby where they can build homes.

“The beach belongs to all of us and it would be a shame to meddle with God’s natural gifts.”

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