KUALA LUMPUR, July 11 — Carrying colourful placards in three languages as well as pots of fishbones, some 200 fishermen from Perak and Penang together with environmental activists demonstrated outside the gates of Parliament House this morning.
The demonstrators had gathered at the Tugu Negara further down the road earlier before marching en masse to Parliament to express their unhappiness over the Penang South Reclamation (PSR) project — the land-strapped state government’s initiative to build three artificial islands in the Straits of Malacca to shore up investments.
The protesters, wearing white t-shirts, sang the national anthem Negaraku.
Thirteen fishermen and NGO representatives were later allowed into the Parliament building to hand over their memorandum objecting to the PSR project, which was received by Permatang Pauh MP Nurul Izzah Anwar and Tourism, Arts and Culture Deputy Minister Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik, who is also the Balik Pulau MP.
Copies of the memorandum were also forwarded to several other Cabinet members, including to Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.
“We will review their opinions and if what they say is true, we will take action the soonest possible.
“If they give memorandum, we will read it,” Dr Mahathir told a press conference in Parliament.
The memorandum was also sent to eight others in the Cabinet. They are: Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali; Transport Minister Anthony Loke; Federal Territories Minister Khalid Samad; Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin; Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Dr A. Xavier Jayakumar; Rural Development Minister Datuk Seri Rina Harun; Local Government and Housing Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin; and Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Minister Datuk Salahuddin Ayub.
The memorandum includes the demands from the fishermen in urging the federal administration to intervene in the project.
Earlier during the rally, Penang Fishermen's Association chairman Nazri Ahmad said the protest was against the development of three man-made islands which would not benefit those who earn a living from the sea and affect their income.
“I am confident that while Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad will not agree with the Forest City project as it does not bring any benefit to the people, it would be the same for this project.
“The three islands do not benefit us. We as the people, we are loyal to the government, do not turn us into rebels,” he said.
The rally ended at about 10.30am.
The PSR project involves the development of three man-made islands with a total size of over 1,800 hectares to the south of the main Penang island that will have plots of land put up for sale once created.
The proceeds from the sales would then be used to fund projects under the Penang Transport Master Plan, a RM49 billion project aimed at solving traffic congestion on the state’s island side.