Penang Umno supports NGOs against SRS

GEORGE TOWN: Penang Umno will support the initiative by 45 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) here to seek the intervention of Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed to cancel the proposed Southern Reclamation Scheme (SRS).

Its chairman, Datuk Seri Musa Sheikh Fadzir said the party’s stand is not political. “Due to climate change, it is better to gauge the situation closely,” he said.

Penang Umno will also convene a special meeting to discuss the SRS and seek further facts to illustrate why the project should not be approved in the first place.

The SRS plan was mooted close to a decade ago.

On Saturday, 45 NGOs from Penang said they would submit a petition to Mahathir soon to express their objection to the SRS venture on grounds of environment degradation.

Penang Forum spokesperson Khoo Salma Nasution described the effort as a real estate master plan rather than a transport one, as the state is placing more emphasis on working with developers instead of transport planners.

SRS will involve three man-made islands off the Bayan Lepas International Airport. The reclamation involves development projects on 1,800ha of artificial islands with sand mining coming from Perak.

State Health, Agriculture and Agro-based Industry and Rural Development Committee chairman Dr Afif Bahardin urged the detractors to view the project objectively and not dismiss it without considering the facts.

Penang needs an injection of new development to generate growth and the transport master plan stimulates the economy, creates jobs, and in the long term, helps to ease traffic congestion, said Afif.

The Malaysian Fisheries Development Board chairman Muhammad Faiz Fadzil, who is also the Penaga assemblyman, said the plight of fishermen needs to be addressed if the reclamation destabilises the fishing grounds up north.