PM urged to reconsider Penang coastal reclamation project

Malaysian Institute of Planners (MIP) president Ihsan Zainal Mokhtar speaks during an interview at the KLCC Convention centre, Kuala Lumpur February 19, 2019. — Picture by FIrdaus Latif
Malaysian Institute of Planners (MIP) president Ihsan Zainal Mokhtar speaks during an interview at the KLCC Convention centre, Kuala Lumpur February 19, 2019. — Picture by FIrdaus Latif

KUALA LUMPUR, April 19 — The Malaysian Institute of Planners (MIP) urged the National Physical Planning Committee (MPFN) chaired by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to reconsider the Penang South Reclamation (PSR) project.

In an open letter to the prime minister, MIP president Ihsan Zainal Mokhtar pointed out that at the federal level, the various policy planning documents are initiated by the National Physical Plan (RFN) and then translated to the State Structural Plan (RSN) at state level.

However, he complained that RSN is tied to the whims and fancies of political leaders who may not have the best interests of sustainable environmental development at heart.

Ihsan posed questions over the coastal reclamation plans in Penang, which he claims have an adverse environmental impact.

“Where is the sand coming from? The sea or rivers is often used with dire consequences. We in Malaysia, are already having these sand mining problems, and many parts of the third world are facing similar issues.

“As in the case of Penang Island, the planned three island reclamation, the amount of investment can certainly be utilised and invested elsewhere — Seberang Perai for example, to be a catalyst of growth for Penang and Peninsula Malaysia and to address land shortages in Penang Island,” he said.

He also pointed out that the proposed Penang Transport Master Plan places emphasis on automobiles and that new highways in cities will not solve traffic congestion, while encouraging more people to use cars, leading to higher carbon emissions.

These he added, are the factors leading to “drastic climate change”.

Ihsan then “pleaded” with the prime minister to reconsider the massive project and implement town planning strategies based on RFN and RSN.