GEORGE TOWN, Nov 4 — One thousand fishermen in Penang went on a strike today in protest against the proposed Penang South Reclamation (PSR) project.
The protestors, led by Penang Fishermen Association chairman Nazri Ahmad, held a demonstration at Speaker’s Square in Esplanade from 10am and are expected to continue demonstrating until 2pm.
Nazri said all association members went on a strike today by not going out to sea.
“We will continue with our demonstration until 2pm today to make our point over rejecting the project,” he said.
The fishermen claimed that the project to create three man-made islands off the southern coast of the island will not only jeopardise their livelihood but also destroy the natural ecosystem of the area.
Nazri, accompanied by Penang Consumers’ Association (CAP) president Mohideen Abdul Kader and Penang Forum’s Khoo Salma Nasution, also brought a memorandum to be handed over to state government at the state legislative assembly which is currently in session at Dewan Sri Pinang nearby.
The group was stopped from entering the building’s grounds and were only able to hand over their memorandum to information officer Zahar Zainul.
“We are disappointed that we were treated in such a way. We only wanted to meet an assemblyman or an exco to present them with our views but instead we were stopped outside the gates,” Nazri told reporters later.
He said when they handed over a memorandum to Parliament in the past, they managed to meet a few MPs and even got to meet a minister.
“It is sad that in Penang, we are told to stand outside and we don’t get to meet a single assemblyman from the state government,” he said.
He pointed out that the fishermen groups who held the demonstration today had behaved in a civilised and orderly manner.
“We did not create any unnecessary provocation and we were very civilised, we only wanted to meet an assemblyman so that they understand how we feel and what we actually want,” he said.
Nazri said they are not against development, as is often portrayed by the state government, but rather PSR as it will affect the fishermen directly.
He used the Tanjung Tokong reclamation as an example where the fishermen there were badly affected by the project.
He said they had obtained a permit from the police to hold the demonstration at Esplanade with strict conditions including keeping the number of people below 1,000.
“We have over 4,000 people who could come but to comply with the police conditions, we kept it at below 1,000 so as to maintain peace because we do not want to cause unnecessary tensions,” he said.
PAS Penaga assemblyman Yusni Mat Piah went out to meet Nazri and accepted another copy of the memorandum from him.
“I am here on behalf of the Opposition as the Opposition leader is currently debating the Supply Bill inside but we want to reassure the fishermen that the Opposition will fight for their rights,” he said.
He said the Opposition will bring up PSR during the legislative assembly and oppose it.
“We can agree with the Penang Transport Master Plan but not the creation of three islands that will destroy the ecosystem there and the livelihood of fishermen,” he said.
He added that normal Penangites will not be able to afford the houses on the three islands.
“The project does not benefit the people so we will oppose it in the legislative assembly,” he said.