GEORGE TOWN, Nov 13 — Penang Barisan Nasional (BN) alleged today that undersea sand mining has caused the seabed in the state to be in critical condition.
Penang Opposition leader Datuk Jahara Hamid told a press conference at the legislative assembly that there is now unchecked seabed mining activities in the state.
“When the state was under Barisan Nasional, we have a mapping of seabed mining activities and it showed there are no other available places for such activities,” she said.
She claimed that if seabed mining were to continue, the sea and the environment would be destroyed.
“The state government will never admit to this but it is going on now,” the Teluk Ayer Tawar assemblyman said.
She also offered to take the media on a site visit to one of the places where seabed mining was allegedly being conducted.
When asked to comment, state welfare, caring society and environment committee chairman Phee Boon Poh denied that there were such activities off the coast of Penang.
“We are very strict against seabed mining and there is no such activity going on now,” he said.
He said if Jahara was sincere, she should show proof and report the exact location of the alleged seabed mining to the state government.
“Give us the evidence and show us where it is,” he said.
Phee claimed he had raised the seabed mining issue back in 2004 and 2007 as the Opposition leader at the legislature when the state was still under BN.
“There were illegal seabed mining activities at that time, right in her constituency, Bagan Ajam, when she was the state exco at that time, but she never responded or spoke about it,” he claimed.
“So, now she said they have done a mapping of seabed mining here but why she didn’t mention it when I raised it at that time?” he asked.
Phee said there are currently a number of idle vessels in the sea and that those vessels looked similar to those used for seabed mining.
“Perhaps this issue I raised so many years ago is haunting her now when she saw similar looking vessels in the sea,” he said.
He said it was shameful that after so many years, she was now raising this issue.