GEORGE TOWN: The Penang government has refuted allegations that the Botanic Gardens’ Special Area Plan (SAP) was gazetted in a hush-hush manner.
State Housing, Local Government and Town and Country Planning Committee chairman, Jagdeep Singh Deo (pix) today said the SAP had gone through the appropriate law and procedures accordingly since 2011, when the master plan was proposed.
He said the public had been given ample opportunity to voice their concerns over the SAP by holding several public hearing sessions, under the Town and Country Planning Act 1976.
“(Since 2011), 27 internal meetings, public hearings and discussions had been held, culminating in (the SAP) being gazetted on July 4, this year,” he said at a press conference, here.
He stressed that the main purpose of the SAP was to enhance the Botanic Gardens while preserving its existing natural habitat.
“We even signed an MoU (memorandum of understanding) with Singapore Botanic Gardens curator, Dr Nigel Taylor who visited Penang last year.
“Certainly, we were not going to do this (gazetting the SAP) if we did not have the intention to get Penang Botanic Gardens listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site,” he added.
Jagdeep was commenting on the backlash during the public briefing on the SAP held at Penang Botanic Gardens yesterday.
Some attendees claimed that the master plan was gazetted without collecting feedback from the public, while others expressed their concern that the documents for the SAP were incomplete and required peer review from experts.
The Botanic Gardens’ SAP consists of 25 detailed projects with seven key ones including the construction of a central visitor centre, plant conservation and research centre, Malaysiana Boulevard, nature’s amphitheatre, viewing tower and viewing deck, as well as restoration of the garden mall and service yard facilities, nursery and irrigation system. — Bernama