Group wants city council, others punished over Bukit Kukus incident

Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow delivers a speech at the Penang Development Corporation’s office in Bayan Baru February 14, 2019. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow delivers a speech at the Penang Development Corporation’s office in Bayan Baru February 14, 2019. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

GEORGE TOWN, Feb 14 — The Penang Consumers Association (CAP) demanded stern action against those responsible for the Bukit Kukus incident, particularly the Penang Island City Council (MBPP).

CAP president SM Mohamed Idris claimed that aside from blacklisting the contractor, consultant and independent checking engineer, the local authority had done nothing else.

“In particular, we want to know what action is going to be taken against MBPP for its failure to act by the Penang state government,” he asked in a statement issued today.

He said the state must hold the MBPP mayor and officers accountable for failing to supervise the project.

“This is no simple incident, nine deaths have resulted and very stern action must be taken against MBPP that includes strong disciplinary action against the mayor and officers responsible,” he said.

Yesterday, Deputy Chief Minister I Ahmad Zakiyuddin Abdul Rahman revealed the state government’s special committee findings into the fatal landslide last October.

He named the contractor Yuta Maju Sdn Bhd, consultant GEA (M) Sdn Bhd, independent checking engineer G & P Professional Sdn Bhd and MBPP as the parties responsible for incident.

Mohamed Idris also called on the state government to announce other action to be taken and the improvements that will be made in MBPP to prevent further landslide tragedies.

“We also call for the investigative committee’s findings to be made public, in the interest of transparency and accountability,” he said.

When asked to comment on CAP’s call for action to be taken against MBPP and the mayor, Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow defended the city council.

He said MBPP had, from the beginning of the project, acted to appoint resident engineers (RE) and an independent checking engineer (ICE) to monitor the project on behalf of the city council.

“They understand their technical insufficiency, that’s why they mentioned in the project contract requiring the main contractor to appoint RE and ICE, who are paid by MBPP, to monitor the project,” he said.

He said MBPP lacked manpower as it only had a two or three engineers and the city council has to overlook so many other matters, not only one single project.

On whether the state will punish MBPP, Chow said the state will wait for the Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) report to be released.

“We will wait for their report and take necessary action based on it,” he said.

When met, MBPP Mayor Yew Tung Seang said the city council took note of the results of the state’s investigations into the incident.

He stressed that the city council will not shirk its responsibilities or make up excuses.

“When we started the project, we knew we needed high-level engineering skills which we are lacking so we appointed RE and ICE, who are on our payroll, to monitor the project for us,” he said.

Yew said the city council paid full remuneration of “tens of millions” to the RE, ICE and consultant engineer to monitor the project on their behalf.

He said these professionals are on MBPP’s payroll so they only needed to do their part diligently but had failed.

“When we appoint the RE and ICE, we have a special clause in the contract that they take a supervisory role to alert and highlight any concerns regarding the project to us,” he said.

He said MBPP took all necessary steps to ensure there were professionals on site to monitor it on behalf of the council.

However, when the main contractor failed to appoint a professional engineer for temporary works (PETW) for the project, this was overlooked by the RE and ICE, he added.