LANGKAWI: Civil society members here have come up with an online petition, with the purpose of convincing local authorities to reject the proposed RM30 billion Langkawi New City project to be built on reclaimed land. The project was mooted by former timber tycoon Tan Sri Ting Pek Khiing, who has the reputation of constructing resort properties in record time. The civil society has alerted the travel trade community here and as of 10am on Sunday, up to 780 signatures have been recorded on change.org, an online petition driven portal, which propagates various issues for the online community to support. The campaign is spearheaded by a civil activist Firdaus Azahar. Although the proposed mega project has yet to be submitted for scrutiny by the local authorities, Ting had envisioned some 30,000 units of condominiums built to be purchased by affluent foreigners and local investors. It will also have commercial areas and berthing bays for yachts and ocean liners. When asked for comment, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed said: "Ting can dream up constructing a Kuala Lumpur-like city in Langkawi and the latter can propose it, but whether it gets approved, it is up to the authorities." Langkawi Businesses Association president Anthony Wong Kim Hooi said the developer should have first conducted comprehensive studies and seeked out an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) approval before going public. According to Wong, mega projects nowadays need an in-depth study on how it would impact the ecology, the livelihood of those with traditional income (such as fishermen), jobs creation and sustainability. Again, Wong, who is now in the midst of preparing a position paper on Langkawi for submission to Mahathir, said that the island resort needs to make up its mind on how they want Langkawi to be positioned in the tourism realm. "Are we emulating Phuket or Bali where in decades to come, the fragile environment may be damaged and tourists would stray away?" Or, is there a need for sustainable tourism to take precedence, noted Wong. Also, Wong said that there was a need to generate awareness that sustainable tourism can also boost the coffers of travel trade members, if they do it the right way and opt for a longer-term outlook rather than short-term gains. He cited examples where organic farming and the conservation or preservation of the ecology can become a boon for eco-tourism. Wong said that farming should be one way forward for Langkawi as almost 90% of its food produce is imported from Thailand, Cameron Highlands (Perak) and Indonesia, exposing the island resort to the vagaries of food security. "Tourists can then visit such organic farms to sample the food produce." He stressed that development are welcomed, but it should be on existing land. Wong also said that waters here were under threat due to incidences of contaminated water being indirectly discharged into the sea.