Proposed reclamation far from international maritime border, says Penang exco

Chow accused Wan Junaidi of using the PSR project for political mileage as the minister did not voice similar concerns on reclamation projects in Johor and Malacca. — Picture by KE Ooi
Chow accused Wan Junaidi of using the PSR project for political mileage as the minister did not voice similar concerns on reclamation projects in Johor and Malacca. — Picture by KE Ooi

GEORGE TOWN, Dec 29 — The proposed Penang South Reclamation (PSR) project is located far from the country’s maritime border with Indonesia, state executive councillor Chow Kon Yeow said today.

The local government committee chairman said a map from the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency’s website shows this clearly.

“The proposed PSR project is located at a very shallow area of less than -3.5m CD (depth) on the continental shelf of Malaysia and it is well within the three nautical miles radius from the existing shoreline of Penang Island ’s south coast,” he told a press conference held at Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s office in Komtar today.

He added that there is also no possibility of the project shifting the continental shelf and encroaching into maritime international border.

He said reclamation projects in Johor and Malacca are much closer to international waters.

Chow was responding to a statement by Environment and Natural Resources Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Jaafar that the project could encroach into international waters and change the continental shelf.

Wan Junaidi also said he would ask the National Physical Planning Council (NPPC) to reject the proposed reclamation project as it could negatively impact the livelihood of local fishermen.

Chow accused Wan Junaidi of using the PSR project for political mileage as the minister did not voice similar concerns on reclamation projects in Johor and Malacca.

“The reclamation project in Johor is fringeing the boundary of Singapore,” he pointed out.

On the negative impact of the project on fishermen’s livelihood, Chow said the PSR project only occupies a small portion of the fishing area of local fishermen.

“Upon completion of the PSR project, the fishermen will have 24/7 access to the sea with better and improved fishing facilities through permanent access channels between the reclaimed islands, irrespective of tide conditions,” he said.

As for Wan Junaidi’s claims that the Department of Environment (DOE) is yet to receive any report on the project, Chow clarified that the state government has submitted more reports and studies than any other reclamation projects carried out in Malaysia.

“The state government has been actively seeking feedback from the respective departments and agencies for the various reports on the PSR project and has worked tirelessly to prepare resubmission of the reports based on the department and agencies’ feedback,” he said.

He added the state had submitted the PSR Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Report to the DOE on April 28 this year.

“A meeting between the state government, DOE and a panel of experts was held on June 15 to discuss the EIA report,” he said.

The revised EIA report incorporating the state’s responses to feedback and comments from the DOE and the panel of experts was resubmitted to DOE on August 15.

“We are also in the midst of preparing detailed reports in accordance with the advice received from the NPPC’s working and regulating committees,” he said.

Chow added that the earliest that the state’s submission can be tabled at the NPPC would be sometime in the middle of next year.

He said Wan Junaidi had visited Penang many times but did not bother to meet with “his good friends” here, referring to the chief minister and state exco Lim Hock Seng.

“We strongly urge the minister to peruse the state’s submission to DOE to assist him in attaining a better comprehension of PSR,” he said.

He said the state will also prepare a report to clarify the issues raised by Wan Junaidi and submit it to his ministry in a week’s time.

“The state warmly welcomes the opportunity to discuss with the minister on the issues raised when submitting the report to the ministry,” he said.

The PSR project was meant to fund the state’s ambitious RM27 billion Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP).

The proposed project includes the creation of two man-made islands off the coast, of about 2,000 acres and 1,300 acres respectively, and another island covering 800 acres later on.