GEORGE TOWN, Oct 13 — The Penang Fishermen’s Association (Pen Mutiara) has stressed that it has never supported the controversial Penang South Reclamation (PSR) project.
Pen Mutiara chairman Mahadi Md Rodzi said the 6,000-member association has always kept to its position in opposing the project to create three man-made islands off the southern coast of Penang island.
“Our position against the project has never changed since 2016 and each year, this decision is reaffirmed by all our members in our annual general meeting (AGM),” he said in a press conference at the Pen Mutiara Restaurant here.
He said the Penang state government is misleading the public by claiming fishermen supported the project.
Referring to a memorandum submitted to the state government signed by 1,521 individuals, purportedly fishermen, in support of the project earlier this month, he said the memorandum is not endorsed or approved by Pen Mutiara.
“There was never any motion proposed in any of our AGM to support the PSR so that memorandum does not represent a majority of the fishermen’s position on this project,” he said.
He said of the 1,521 signatures, only 435 belonged to fishermen and he is not sure if all of them are Pen Mutiara members.
He claimed that some of the fishermen who signed the memorandum were not shown the memorandum they were signing and some were informed that they had to sign it to receive aid due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Some were told to sign it to get new boats, new engines and cash ex-gratia so they signed it,” he claimed.
He said the members under Pen Mutiara consisting of all fishermen’s units in the whole of Penang island have unanimously voted in support of a motion to object against the PSR every year.
“There was no issue of the fishing community supporting the PSR project as the motion objecting to the project in the AGM was still upheld,” he stressed.
He said this is a decision made by all members, through their votes, and not one made by the association leaders or unit leaders.
“It is not a decision of one association leader, it is not my decision, it is a decision by the grassroots members that we must uphold,” he said.
He said all members under Pen Mutiara must also comply with the association’s constitution and rules.
“Members must not do anything that is against the association constitution including going against the association’s stance against the PSR,” he said.
He said if any member who opposes a motion approved in the AGM should go through the formal channel by proposing their motion in the next AGM.
“Any claim of representation of fishermen outside of the association is invalid because they have ignored the fishing community’s collective decision made through an official platform which was in accordance with the Fishermen’s Association Act 1971,” he said.
Mahadi said Pen Mutiara is subjected to the Fishermen’s Association Act 1971.
On a member who was involved in collecting the signatures for a memorandum in support of PSR, he said the association has already issued the member a show-cause letter.
“She had gone against the association’s constitution and rules so she was issued a show-cause letter last month and she has submitted a reply on October 11,” he said.
He said the association committee will have to call a special meeting to deliberate on her reply to the show cause letter before taking any action.
He was referring to Fajinah Jaafar who had been vocal in recent weeks to voice her support for the PSR.
“We do everything in accordance with our association’s constitution and rules so if she was found to have gone against our association’s rules, she will have to face actions as stipulated under the Fishermen’s Association Act,” he said.