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LETTER | Penang South Islands project will create jobs in Penang

LETTER | Job opportunities don't drop from the sky. They are created through development, driven by progressive policy and financed by the supply and demand forces in the market.

Recently, the Penang South Islands (PSI) project was reported to generate 15,000 new jobs from the construction work of the first island.

Although the reclamation hasn't started, I was told that more than 100 Penangites have been hired for the preparation work for PSI. Wanting to find out more, I met up with Abang Sam.

Abang Sam was a full-time fisherman before his present employment for the PSI project.

He shared with me his hard life as a fisherman – with little to no savings, no Employees Provident Fund savings, unstable income. Life was without financial security.

"Pendapatan hanya lepas makan, hanya boleh hidup," he said.

But that's not the worst for him. His most horrific experience as a fisherman was fishing in the open sea during a thunderstorm. "Semasa hujan ribut, macam gadai nyawa."

Abang Sam became a fisherman when he was 15 years old. He and his family lived with those conditions, unbearable to many of us, for more than 25 years.

So, when the PSI was launched, Abang Sam applied for a job and got it.

Now he has a stable income every month and doesn't need to re-live the nightmare of fishing in a storm.

The job also provides him with EPF contributions. He can now plan the finances for his family and his retirement. He even showed me the new motorcycle he just bought six months ago.

"Sekarang ada kemajuan, kewangan boleh bajet."

Abang Sam has four children. The eldest, 18, is currently pursuing a vocational diploma while his youngest is three years old.

I asked him, what's his hope for his children? "Anak-anak kena berjaya, sambung belajar, lebih maju untuk masa depan mereka," he said.

Then I asked him what will he do if the PSI project is cancelled?

He said that he wished the project would continue, if not he will have to return to being a fisherman – "gadai nyawa dalam hujan ribut".

Penang Forum members and PAS politicians are lobbying to cancel the PSI project. One described the PSI as a "lose-lose for Penang".

Do they know that the reclamation for the first island under the PSI project will bring in RM7 billion in domestic investment into Penang, generate jobs, and stimulate the local economy?

Do they know that Penangites like Abang Sam will become jobless if PSI is cancelled?

Do they know that many other fishermen like Abang Sam can have gainful employment from the PSI?

Job opportunities don't drop from the sky.

The writer is a former Seberang Perai city councillor.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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