GEORGE TOWN, Nov 9 — Groups led by Penang Forum protested against allegedly indiscriminate projects in Penang by demonstrating outside the state assembly building today, before they were ordered to leave.
When told they may not stand in front of the legislative assembly building, the around 30 protesters promptly moved their demonstration across the street.
“We have a right to protest against projects that affect us. Where is the freedom when they chased us away like this?” said Khoo Salma from Penang Forum.
She reminded the state’s current leaders that they used to hold protests outside the legislative assembly building before they became part of the state government.
“We must remind them that we are not politicians, we are not from any political party, we are common people who are concerned about the projects they planned for the state,” she said.
She said the group will continue to stage protests and peaceful demonstrations against the state’s projects, especially the Pan Island Link (PIL1) under the Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP).
These will proceed even if authorities ignore their protests, she said.
Among the group’s contention is that the state’s draft structural plan will allow development on land 250 feet above sea level and on slopes with gradients over 25 degrees.
“This means they will allow more development on hills. Soon, we will see development on Botak Hill,” she said referring to Bukit Relau which was illegally cleared in 2013.
She also said the draft structural plan would lead to the reclamation of over 7,000 acres of land.
“It will be just like Forest City in Johor. Why do we need so many condos that people can’t even afford?” she asked.
She said Penang Forum was also against two hotels proposed on Penang Hill.
“The previous chief minister, the late Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu, was voted out in the 1990s because Penangites did not want massive developments on Penang Hill,” she said.
The Penang government was now picking up where Lim left off, she said.
“It is as if the state government does not know anything about climate change. They are planning developments without considering the environment,” she said.
She said Penang Hill suffered around 200 landslides after the floods in 2017, yet the state government is still planning to develop it and build two hotels there.
Khoo hoped the state’s assemblymen will raise their concerns on climate change and manmade disasters such as floods and landslides.
The group chanted slogans such as “CAT is dead”, “Save our hills”, “Save Penang” and “Save Penang Hill” as they held up placards protesting against land reclamation projects and PIL1.
One of the placards stated, “CAT stands complacency arrogance translucency”, in reference to the state government’s slogan of competency, accountability and transparency.
Some of the placards also paid tribute to the victims of the two landslides, one in Tanjung Bungah last year and the second in Bukit Kukus last month.