GEORGE TOWN, June 2 — The Pakatan Harapan Penang government was today questioned by a backbencher on the small size of land allocated to Malay Muslims in the state's ambitious project to build three new islands.
Bayan Lepas assemblyman Azrul Mahathir Aziz said the land to be surrendered to the State Islamic Religious Council is only 0.2 per cent of the total 4,500 acres under the Penang South Reclamation (PSR).
"Why is that our own people only get eight acres out of the total 4,500 acres of lands to be reclaimed? Does this mean the three islands are meant for outsiders?
"People will think that the reclamation project is meant for outsiders when only such a small portion of land is allocated for our people," the Amanah backbencher asked Deputy Chief Minister I Datuk Ahmad Zakiyuddin Abd Rahman in the state legislative assembly here.
Azrul also wanted to know the division of the eight acres from the three proposed islands, and if more land will be allocated for Muslim Malays.
Replying, Ahmad Zakiyuddin said the estimated 8.05 acres of land allocated was prepared under the draft PSR plan.
"In future, there may be more details to be added to the plans and finalised so it is possible that more lands could be surrendered then," he said.
Ahmad Zakiyuddin explained that the 8.05 acres of land allocated for the State Islamic Religious Council in the PSR was meant for mosques and cemeteries.
He said the PSR, other than to fund the Penang Transport Master Plan, will generate economic activities for the state, create more industrial lands, green spaces and develop more tourist attractions as well as the state's socio-economy.
Azrul later clarified that his question on the PSR does not mean he fully supported the controversial land reclamation project.
"I am only asking as I need to know if the needs of local Muslims will be looked into and I want to ensure our rights are protected," he said.
He also said that even if he does not support the land reclamation project, he could not openly protest against it as he has to consider the interests of different levels of society.