State Opposition leader asks what will become of Penang’s environment in light of massive projects

A general view of the reclaimed land at Gurney Wharf which is located at the coast of Gurney Drive in Penang September 18, 2020. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
A general view of the reclaimed land at Gurney Wharf which is located at the coast of Gurney Drive in Penang September 18, 2020. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

GEORGE TOWN, Oct 13 — The Penang Opposition leader Datuk Mohamad Yusoff Mohd Noor (BN - Sungai Dua) has accused the state administration of failing to preserve the environment with its approval of massive land reclamation and mega infrastructure projects that have environmental repercussions.

He said the state government under Pakatan Harapan (PH) has failed to protect the environment by approving massive projects that could destroy the environment.

“The state is always saying they want a cleaner, greener Penang and yet, they do not focus on protecting the environment, for example, they approved reclamation works that could destroy the environment,” he said when debating the Supply Bill at the state legislative assembly today.

He said projects such as the Penang South Reclamation (PSR) and Pan Island Link 1 (PIL1) could damage the environment, even with an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

He said there were 72 conditions attached to the EIA approval for PSR and asked if the state had made sure it met all 72 conditions in implementing the PSR.

“Even for PIL1, there are a lot of issues, it has adverse socio-economic impact too, not only on the environment,” he said.

He gave other examples such as illegal hill clearing that has left some hills “botak” (bare) and illegal quarrying works in Teluk Bahang.

He added that even if some of the reclamation works were approved by the previous Barisan Nasional state government pre-2008, the current PH administration could choose not to go ahead with these projects.

He also offered an apology on behalf of Barisan Nasional leaders for the third wave of Covid-19 due to the Sabah state elections.

“I apologise for this weakness as we are all humans and I apologise on their behalf,” he said.

Backbencher Teh Lai Heng (DAP - Komtar) then asked if he agreed with the state’s decision to withdraw its motion to force four assemblymen to vacate their seats as per the state’s anti-hopping law.

This led to other backbenchers, M. Satees (DAP - Bagan Dalam) and Lee Chun Kit (DAP - Pulau Tikus), to interject and ask Yusoff if he supported party hopping.

Former state exco Dr Afif Bahardin (Bersatu - Seberang Jaya) then interrupted to say that they should direct the question to the Penang chief minister Chow Kon Yeow (DAP - Padang Kota) and Lim Guan Eng (DAP - Air Putih).

“This question should be directed at the chief minister and Air Putih as they had supported Port Dickson MP when the MP said he can get the numbers to form a government, so they supported other MPs to hop too,” he claimed, referring to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s announcement that he has the numbers to form the federal government.

Satees defended Chow to state that the latter had merely said he welcomed Anwar’s announcement but this does not mean Chow supported party hopping.

“I want to state that there is a difference, there is an anti-hopping law in Penang, there is no such law at the federal level,” Chow replied.

Yusoff then replied that he personally does not like party hopping and that he held to his own principle to stay with one party.

“In this case, we have to look at the law and the state has an anti-hopping enactment but it was not in line with the federal constitution,” he said.

Chow then told him that it was a legal issue that has to be decided by the courts.

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