Perak promises review and discussions with Penang over artificial islands project

John Bunyan
A joint press conference by 15 NGOs at the Penang Consumers’ Association headquarters in George Town May 20, 2019. — Pictures by Opalyn Mok

IPOH, May 22 — With the fate of its fishermen and marine life likely to be affected, the Perak government today pledged to look into Penang’s plan to build three artificial islands in the Malacca Strait that could hurt the Silver State’s environment and economy.

State executive councillor Abdul Yunus Jamhari said Perak will raise concerns from local NGOs when it engages Penang in a government-to-government talk about the Penang South Reclamation (PSR) project.

The state public amenities, infrastructure, agriculture and plantation committee chairman acknowledged reports that the PSR could damage northern Perak, especially in Tanjung Piandang and Bagan Tiang where its mangrove swamps are located.

He also noted possible impact to 6,000 Perak fishermen as a result of mining for sand off Tanjung Piandang.

Abdul Yunus said the Perak Fishermen Associations were opposed to mining activities as it jeopardised their livelihood.

“The fishermen also need to spend more on operational cost if they want to move to a different area for fishing and they said the water quality and marine source will also be affected due to mining activity,” he said.

He added that the state fisheries development authority is not opposed to the Penang government’s plan as long as the construction of the artificial islands won’t hurt the livelihood and welfare of the fishermen.

Last Monday, 15 NGOs held a joint press conference in George Town, Penang to highlight their concerns over the PSR.

Persatuan Aktivis Sahabat Alam President Hafizudin Nasarudin said the reclamation works will also affect the natural nesting spots for endangered turtles, such as Olive Ridley turtles that land in Teluk Kumbar in Penang and Green Turtles that land in Tanjung Segari in Perak.

Hafizudin also said the sand mining activity will affect marine life breeding spots in northern Perak while reclamation will destroy marine life in Penang.

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