The controversial Pulau Tioman marina development project is another classic example of how our natural heritage is being plundered for the sake of money via the use of the political machinery.
The federal government apparently has identified 11 sites for marinas throughout Malaysia. As such projects are generally uneconomic without ancillary real estate development, the federal government has allocated financial grants to allow the private sector to construct and operate such projects.
Who gets the opportunity to lay their hands on such projects and the money allocated by the government? Politicians and those well-connected businessmen, of course. Would you and I or any common man in the street have the chance to bid for such projects?
The Kg Tekek project at Tioman is apparently sponsored by a former minister and a current Umno MP. Where is the transparency in this? And Umno wants to know why money politics is rampant.
According to my sources, the Kg Tekek project should have been based in a less controversial location, without the risks of damaging the marine environment. But because the less controversial location has more landowners (and therefore more difficult to impose compulsory acquisition), the project site was moved to the current location.
Divers and biologists who have been to the current location say that there are fantastic growths of table corals and 'Christmas tree' corals offshore, which will certainly be killed off by the construction of the breakwater.
A friend of mine has seen the EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) report dated August this year (which means that the marina's construction must have commenced prior to the EIA report) which states that most of the reefs within a certain radius of the breakwater are unlikely to survive.
If our country's current administration is to be seen to be more transparent, then why not publish the complete EIA report for public consumption? We understand the need for marinas in certain locations, but Tioman is a big island, and alternate sites with little environmental impact are definitely available.
If nothing is done with respect to the reversal of this project, then Malaysians should now understand the new Barisan Nasional slogan: 'To the victors go the spoils'.