Penang & Tanjung Bungah: Great for developers, depressing for residents

AUDREY DERMAWAN


GEORGE TOWN: Penang, in general, and Tanjung Bungah, in particular, are good for developers and depressing for residents.

This was the parting shot from outgoing Tanjung Bungah Residents Association (TBRA) chairman Datuk Renji Sathiah at TBRA's annual general meeting recently.

Renji said Penang and Tanjung Bungah continued to be threatened by unrestrained and unplanned development, with more high-rise, high-density projects planned, greatly increasing traffic flow.

Density in Penang, he said, once stood at 30 units per acre but was increased to 87 several years ago.

“This will be increased by the authorities to 128 units per acre, quadrupling what it used to be.

“A 65-storey building will replace the Copthorne Hotel, dwarfing its already giant neighbours at the Cove and One Tanjung," he said.

Renji also said that the recently conducted survey of the Penang Structure Plan raised fresh concerns.

“The whole concept of primary and secondary corridors is under review and likely to be dropped. Instead there is the new concept of 'optimisation' of the available land in Penang.

“There are many flaws and contradictions in this hastily put together and belated review, but the fundamental message is a good one for developers and a depressing one for people concerned about their quality of life and the environment," he stressed, noting that the TBRA had sent in its comments on the review to the planning authorities.

Renji pointed out that the hills, a key heritage of Penang, were in great danger, with more construction of high-rise buildings on sensitive hill slopes, some of which are clearly illegal.

“From the air, and from the drive into Penang, on the bridge, one can clearly see the horrific damage done to our beautiful hills.

“Here in Tanjung Bungah, we have an upcoming construction project, precariously situated on a sensitive hillside, believed to be illegal and other worrying developments in Chee Seng Gardens," he added.

He said there was also the issue of the paired roads that are already under construction.

“It is not clear how these roads to the northeast and south of Tanjung Bungah will connect with each other.

“The idea is to improve traffic flows to and from Batu Feringghi and the city, but we can only see more blockages resulting from this,” he said.

“Worse, the northeastern road will cut through forested areas, endangering the little there is left of Tanjung Bungah’s green areas and the flora and fauna there," he added.

A copy of Renji's farewell adress is available at the Penang Forum website.

The TBRA is affiliated to the Penang Forum and supports its efforts to take up all these issues with the authorities. Together with the Penang Forum, the TBRA has set up the Residents Associations of Penang, now with 12 member associations, to support one another.