GEORGE TOWN, Aug 4 — Perikatan Nasional (PN) will cancel the controversial Silicon Island reclamation project if it’s given the mandate to govern Penang, said Datuk Dominic Lau Hoe Chai.
The Penang PN chairman said he fully support the Penang Fishermen’s Association (Pen Mutiara) and its members in opposing the massive reclamation project off the southern coast of Penang island.
“Stopping the reclamation project is one of the items in my election manifesto so if we are given the mandate to rule this state, we will cancel the project,” he told reporters after joining in a press conference organised by Pen Mutiara at Sungai Batu here.
Lau went on to say that the previous administration led by DAP only “took care” of foreigners by building luxurious condominiums for rich foreigners on the reclaimed island.
He said the state government does not want to take care of its people who could not afford such luxurious condominiums.
“It is time to change state government to one that will take care of the wellbeing of its people,” he said.
Lau, who is contesting in the Bayan Lepas seat where the reclamation project is located, said he fully agreed with the five demands made by Pen Mutiara with regards to the project.
“If PN is given the mandate, we will set aside funds to develop Bayan Lepas as a heritage tourism site,” he said.
He said they will also implement training programs for young fishermen to improve their skills to bring in more catch and increase their income.
Earlier, Pen Mutiara vice chairman Zakaria Ismail called on the incoming state government to cancel the Silicon Island project.
He then presented five main demands to the state government and candidates who are contesting in the state election.
He said the candidates must make the commitment to protect and preserve the marine ecosystem in Penang and reject the reclamation project.
“It is important to establish a climate resilience master plan in Penang to help the fishing community to adapt to the effects of climate change,” he said.
He also said a blue economy strategy should be implemented where sustainable economic growth is aligned with ocean conservation.
He said fishing villages in Penang should also be recognised as heritage sites as many of it has valuable historical and cultural significance.
“The Teluk Kumbar fishing village was around since 1880s,” he said.
He said these historical villages should be declared as heritage sites to protect the coastal communities and preserve their traditions and way of life.
Lau said he agreed that fishing villages be recognised as heritage sites which could also be promoted as a tourism spot to bring in more economic activities for the villages.
He said establishing a climate resilience master plan is important not only for Penang but also the country as climate change affects everyone globally.
Meanwhile, Pen Mutiara chairman Ibrahim Che Ros said even when the state reduced the reclamation project from three islands to one island, the fishermen are still against it.
“Even one island will cause destruction to the ecosystem here and destroy our livelihood, literally putting sand in our rice bowls,” he said.
He hoped that the candidates who turned up for the press conference will support their demands to cancel the project.
“We are an NGO, we don’t support any political party but we will support those who agree with our demands and continue to stand with us to oppose this project,” he said.
The Pakatan Harapan state government recently announced changing the plans for Penang South Islands project by scaling down the proposed three islands to only one island.
Only Island A, rebranded as Silicon Island, that measured about 920ha will be reclaimed.
The decision was made after Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim asked the state government to scale down the PSI project.
The controversial project was continuously opposed by the fishing communities and environmental NGOs since it was introduced in 2015.