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LETTER | Protesters supporting Penang Tech Park were not locals

LETTER | The Action Committee Against Development of Industrial Park and Labour Quarter at Bertam questions the motive of a street gathering by a group that claimed to support the development of the Penang Technology Park (PTP).

The gathering was held last Friday (Aug 5) in front of the Land and District Office of Seberang Perai Utara (SPU) in Penang following the official statement related to the cancellation of centralised labour quarters published in Bulletin Mutiara a day earlier on Aug 4.

We were informed that the individuals who led the crowd to submit their memorandum to the District Officer of SPU were outsiders, who lived outside Bertam and Kepala Batas.

Moreover, a majority of the group who attended were unknown senior citizens and it was odd for individuals of their age to demand the PTP to be approved to ensure job creation for them.

Regardless, we do not see how the PTP will benefit most of the senior citizens since the developer claimed the new industrial park only requires fresh and highly skilled talents.

The PTP project was said to be a high-technology industrial park based on the 4th industrial revolution (4IR) and won’t rely on cheap and low-skilled labour.

Were there invisible hands behind the group aiming to manufacture public support for the PTP so that it convinces investors and bankers to grant loans to potential buyers of industrial lots which are still in the pre-approval stage?

Claims that Bertam has been lacking in jobs are unreasonable due to reports that the unemployment rate here is low which is near the average of 3.2 percent in Penang as reported by Socso in 2021.

To date, we never heard of local communities pleading for jobs in Bertam given the fact that Bertam is already established with planned housing and an education hub which have been sufficient to offer jobs including serene ambience and facilities to the local communities.

The development of a large-scale industrial park will only cause numerous environmental pollution risks and extreme traffic congestion.

High-density population in Bertam and close proximity between the residential areas and the industrial park (100m to 3km) will be inviting horrible consequences to the health and safety of nearby communities.

For the record, NGO Lekas, together with our committee and Gabungan Komuniti Bertam Putra (Bertam Putra Community Coalition) launched a written petition against PTP from July 20 to 24.

We managed to gather 1,662 signatures of local communities in Bertam who stood against the PTP proposal. The written petition was submitted to the Mayor of Seberang Jaya City Council (MBSP), DOE, and Plan Malaysia.

The 1,662 community members within the core zone and buffer zone who signed the petition are residents of:

  • Bertam Eco Residence (93)

  • Mekarsari (59)

  • Putra Villa (121)

  • Casa Moderna Bertam Putra (160)

  • Casa Innova Bertam Putra (22)

  • Seksyen 2 Taman Bertam Putra (84)

  • Seksyen 3, 5 dan 6 Taman Bertam Putra (526)

  • Bertam Lakehomes (212)

  • Bertam Lakeside (52)

  • Bentara dan Panglima (114)

  • Pinggiran Bertam (112)

  • others (Bertam Lakeview, Bertam PGR, Bertam Indah, Syahbandar, Lahar Tiang, Permatang Langsat etc) (107)

Moreover, the online petition launched on May 19 has already hit 6,655 signatures against the proposed PTP while the Social Impact Assessment (SIA) carried out by the developer online only managed to gather opinions from 411 respondents, whose identities have been questionable.

Therefore, we urge the authorities and project proponents to cancel the development of an industrial park in Bertam due to its potential to highly compromise the environmental quality of the area and the social well-being of the local communities.

We propose for the site to be developed with a mixed development project involving mixed housing development, high education institutions, office units, business lots, and public amenities.

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

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