Penang fisherfolk groups from the island and mainland have submitted a memorandum to state governor Abdul Rahman Abbas expressing their opposition to reclamation projects in both areas.
Led by Penang Fishermen Association president Nazri Ahmad and Penang Forum's Khoo Salma Nasution, the group handed the document to a staff member at the gates of Seri Mutiara, the governor's official residence this morning.
This is the same group which has strongly opposed the Penang South Reclamation project by SRS Consortium, which covers 1,820 hectares in Bayan Lepas and involves the creation of three artificial islands.
On July 11, some 200 protestors marched to Parliament to urge Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad to cancel the project.
"In the name of development, our right to livelihood had been denied, our villages were relocated, our shores were seized, our mangrove and fish breeding grounds were destroyed, rubbish were thrown in our seas, contaminating our waterfront and shorelines, our land reclaimed for others, " Nazri said in the memorandum.
He claimed that fisherfolk had been suffering the effects of a series of reclamation projects in Penang, starting from the Bayan Lepas free industrial zone to the Lim Chong Eu (Jelutong) highway.
This was followed by projects involving the second Penang bridge, Seri Tanjung Pinang 1 and 2, Queensbay, Butterworth Outer Ring Road (BORR), IJM's The Light luxury residential development, Bayan Bay, and Gurney Wharf.
"The Penang government has reclaimed more than 1,000 acres of land, affecting us as they all involved the shifting of jetties and other amenities, while our seas become more polluted and narrower for fishing, impacting our financial livelihood as well," he added.
He cited the example of the BORR project from 2003 to 2006, where fisherfolk were promised RM12,000 in compensation but have yet to receive the money, while new jetties which were supposed to be built for them have yet to see the light of day.
As for the ongoing Seri Tanjung Pinang 2 project, which began in 2016, fisherfolks were paid RM15,000 each and RM2,000 for their crew members. However, a promised new jetty has yet to be built.
"At these two locations, the compensation paid to the fisherfolks was inadequate, they are insufficient to restore our losses," Nazri lamented.
"We have to work harder and longer but earn only half as much as we did in the past. Before the reclamation projects, we also have to take up other jobs to make up for our losses, and to feed our families, " he decried.
"We have long been patient but we can no longer remain silent as it is proven time and time again that reclamation projects negatively impact our lives and the environment," he added.
Nazri said the fisherfolks were often falsely promised that the effects of reclamation were temporary.
However, seas reclaimed could never be restored while the state government and developer have not done enough to address the problem, he added.
"The truth is, we have become victims of development," Nazri stressed.
Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow has formed a taskforce to discuss ex gratia payments with the fisherfolk.
Following PKR president Anwar Ibrahim’s meeting with the fisherfolk last month, Chow has agreed to scale down the project, if the state is able to obtain federal funding.
The PSR was supposed to be developed on state land and partly sold to cover the cost of the Penang Transport Master Plan.