The fight against the Penang South Reclamation project: My two cents’ worth — Serena Gall

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JUNE 23 — It is good to hear that now we have such political heavyweights like Nurul Izzah Anwar in support of the fight against the preposterous and ludicrous Penang South Reclamation (BiodiverCity) project, which is totally against expert environmental advice, and common sense really. 

Hopefully, this will be a wonderful catalyst, with many more influential people ‘jumping on the wagon’, trying to save what rightfully truly belongs to, not only the Penangites, or the people of Malaysia, but all the peoples of the world!

Even then, it’s terrible to hear the opposition trying to downplay the terrible devastation this project could ultimately do to our beloved Penang, and all the future generations to come, twisting facts and declaring that influential people have been misled by false information, when they themselves have been doing exactly that!

Growing up in Penang, we always look forward to our carefree weekends, and holidays, of sun, sea, and sand. Those memorable fun-filled days of swimming, snorkelling, fishing, beachcombing, and generally playing on the beach and in the water with the other children, full of amazing childhood adventures, and misadventures! The memorable picnics and holiday bungalow stays with schoolfriends. Beautiful seaside fun not only at Gurney Drive, Tanjung Tokong, Tanjung Bungah, and Batu Ferringhi, but also Teluk Bahang, Balik Pulau, Pulau Kandy, Pantai Kerachut, etc.

Sadly, on our many return trips to our original homeland, which I left 40 years ago for Australia, we have seen a gradual degradation and pollution of the local environments, and waters there. Definite destruction to the local marine life especially. It’s certainly not the same anymore. Those days are truly gone, when the sea was so productive, and water clearer, and no rubbish floating around.

One shocking example is our home ground Gurney Drive — we used to fish with schoolfriends from St George’s Girls School, water ski with family friends, ‘korek siput’ (cockle digging), go have nice dinners and evening walks enjoying the fresh sea breezes, or just stop by to buy some peanuts, or hotdog as a snack. 

Penang fishermen hold placards as they protest against the proposed Penang South Reclamation project at the Esplanade November 4, 2019. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Penang fishermen hold placards as they protest against the proposed Penang South Reclamation project at the Esplanade November 4, 2019. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

But on one of my last couple of trips back, I shockingly witnessed the bulldozers and diggers, digging and dumping sand for land reclamation. I was so horrified at how many millions of creatures would have died in the process, from tiny single-celled organisms to snails, shrimps, crabs, fish, plants, etc, and their habitats totally destroyed forever! No chance of survival whatsoever! Such terrible devastation!

Were there any efforts at all taken prior to relocate some marine organisms at least? Or save some of the habitats?

And, because of all the recent development of high-rise dwellings and hotels around that area, we can no longer see the sea from my father’s Pulau Tikus apartment any more...so very sad!

So bad then.....guess the same was done before that to other areas like Straits Quay/Tanjung Tokong housing reclamation area too....?

I am looking forward to the day I am finally able to return, to see our beloved Penang once again, and to see our loved ones who have been so cruelly separated from us for far too long, after the current pandemic devastation comes under control. But, on the flip side, I am dreading what I would have to face when I go back to Penang, to Gurney Drive?!

So, why now make matters so much worse??? We can all help prevent this PSR project from happening...

Everything in nature is connected and complicated – when one environment is affected or destroyed, it will lead to a domino-effect, and start affecting other environments as well eg from sea to land! Our marine and terrestrial environments have been so much less productive over the decades due to irresponsible land/sea management, unprecedented natural disasters, threats from numerous destructions, pollution, over-fishing, over-mining, and much, much more. We’re now facing much more extreme worldwide disasters such as bushfires, floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, etc. Our earth’s special creatures are becoming sterile, endangered, extinct at an alarmingly unprecedented rate!

We all are fighting similar problems all over the word, trying to save our planet, and save ourselves!

Currently, everyone all around our precious world is facing the biggest, scariest fight of the century!

In our days of climate change, environmental and biodiversity crises, we need to protect our ‘Mother Earth’, the air we breathe, our land and our oceans. The healing needs to come much sooner than later.

Unfortunately, not everyone is able see beyond the immediate future, instead of listening to experts in their field eg listening to people like David Suzuki and others who have warned the world over 50 years ago!

Some of my favourite quoted advice show the seriousness our planet’s been facing lately:

Sylvia Earle (American marine biologist, explorer, author, lecturer- amazing bio/life and quotes!)

“We are the first generation to know our capacity to destroy. And may be the last generation to know what to do to turn things around.”

“Our past, our present, and whatever remains of our future, absolutely depend on what we do now.”

“No water, no life. No blue, no green.”

Everyone needs to keep up this fight, keep up the great work, and hope for the best outcome. As long as people will keep contributing... Even if it may not make any difference ultimately, at least we’ve all tried our very best to keep Penang alive! 

Have your say, voice your opinions, make a huge splash! Hopefully, it’s not too late!

The extremely high cost of so-called progress? And it’s all irreversible!

Is it all really worth it?

Seriously, do ask yourself...

Apart from saving our island, and our world, the billions of dollars could be more appropriately and effectively put towards better healthcare, assisting the poor and the less fortunate, more environmental projects, saving wildlife, and much more, all for the good of humankind.

All the best with everything your future, our collective futures...

Kind regards, and all the best to everyone in Penang. Stay safe.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or organisation and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.

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