LETTER | Most Penangites, me included, welcome the recent approval of the Penang South Reclamation (PSR) project granted by the Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Ministry.
Being a land-scarce city, Penang island sorely needs the project to proceed in order to cater for future infrastructure and other developments.
Land reclamation has already been done in several land-scarce cities across the planet, including Amsterdam, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Singapore.
More recently, Denmark is embarking on a major land reclamation project in Copenhagen, creating an European Silicon Valley out of nine new islands.
Here in Malaysia, even a vast state like Johor is allowed to implement its own land reclamation projects. Thus, there is no reason why Penang should not continue with the PSR.
The PSR at the southern tip of Penang Island will enable any future expansion of the Bayan Lepas Free Industrial Zone (FIZ), now regarded as the 'Silicon Valley of the East', where hundreds of multinationals, as well as thousands more local firms and startups, are sited.
Manufacturing contributed over two-fifths of Penang’s GDP as of 2017.
Additional land banks, plus the proximity to the Penang International Airport, would attract more MNCs to the Bayan Lepas FIZ, pertinent in this era of trade wars that has affected the global electrical and electronics industry.
In addition to the factories at Island A, Island B would be allocated for high-end financial and business services, whilst Island C will house new tourism products.
Thus the PSR will be a catalyst for Penang’s economy – a project that requires a paradigm shift for Penangites to grasp the opportunities unlocked by the project.
By objecting the PSR for the mere 0.6 percent of Penang’s workforce who work as fishermen (the actual number along the southern coastline of Penang Island is even smaller), do those so-called NGOs really care for the future of Penang and her citizens as “real true patriotic Penangites”?
The PSR was mooted as the primary financing mode for the Penang Transportation Master Plan (PTMP). By objecting the PSR, would Penang’s transport woes go away in the foreseeable future?
The so-called NGOs claim that the PSR would result in greater carbon emissions, as though Penang, as it is now, emits very little carbon waste.
How about the thousands of cars, motorbikes, buses and lorries that are stuck along the congested roads of George Town every day, such as Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway, Green Lane, Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah and Jalan Ayer Itam? Do they not produce carbon by-products as well?
Would stopping both the PSR and PTMP help reduce carbon emissions? An efficient public transport system is necessary in order to reduce the number of vehicles on the road, but what practical solutions have these so-called NGOs proposed to reduce traffic congestion and the reliance on cars? Zilch.
Some within the so-called NGOs even came up with ludicrous ‘solutions’ based on ipse dixit, such as from a certain John Roland.
By asking fellow Penangites to migrate to “look for a job elsewhere” and encouraging brain drain? And then denigrating those outstation Penangites as “unhappy” and unable to get “better pay and living standards”? Hypocrisy abounds!
This is not just the question of infringing the democratic rights of every citizen. It does appear that the so-called NGOs, completely bereft of suggestions to improve Penang, now have to resort to selling out fellow Penangites elsewhere to depopulate the state!
And all these for the elitist few who don’t have to commute to work at all? As “real true patriotic Penangites”, are the so-called NGOs even aware of the plight of fellow Penangites, tourists and business-people wasting their time in traffic jams on a daily basis?
As a true-blue Penangite, I urge the Penang government to proceed with the PSR and PTMP without delay, once approval has been obtained.
Leaving the progress of an entire state in the hands of a few Luddites with questionable credentials, motives and bona fides will never bring the state forward.
Would the world stop for these Luddites? Of course not.
Every Malaysian, and every Penangite for that matter, deserves the right for development, gaining better-paying jobs in our home-state and ultimately to see our beloved state continue to progress.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.