“It should not cause losses or big impact on the people”
BALIK PULAU: The Federal Government will not approve the proposed Penang South Reclamation project if it is not environmentally-friendly and will adversely affect the people.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said the lives of 1,500 fishmen were expected to be affected if the reclamation proceeded.
“Don’t tell me we will sit quietly. It is our responsibility to defend the people,” he said when opening Balik Pulau Umno divisional meeting today.
Earlier at “Kenduri Rakyat” event at Politeknik Balik Pulau, Najib said any development which “throws sand into the people’s rice bowl”, should not be implemented.
He said other alternatives which could save public funds should first be considered.
He said the Federal Government set three conditions before approving Penang to proceed with the reclamation project.
“It should not cause losses or big impact on the people. If the project affects the rice bowl of the fishermen, we will not approve it.
“Secondly, it should be environmentally-friendly and there should be another alternative which can save public funds.”
Najib said the fishing community should be rest assured that the Federal Government would not approve projects which were against the three criteria.
He said the stand of the Federal Government should not be construed as a political move to oppose development in opposition-led states.
“If such is the case, then we would not have brought so many development projects to Penang,” he said.
The Penang government has proposed to carry out the reclamation off the southwestern coast of the island as a means to fund its ambitious Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP).
The reclamation covering 1,821ha will involve the creation of three islands.
The RM46 billion PTMP project to reduce traffic congestion, includes Light Rail Transit, Mass Rapid Transit and several highways.
The reclamation project has drawn objections from various quarters, particularly environmentalists and the fishing community.
On the Kenduri Rakyat, Najib said the strong attendance was a clear testament that Balik Pulau and its state constituencies – Teluk Bahang, Pulau Betong and Bayan Lepas – would remain a Barisan Nasional and Umno stronghold.
“I believe that Balik Pulau people will know how to choose and use their power when the time comes.
“At the federal-level, we have to know how to read the people’s sentiment when it comes to choosing (election) candidates.
Najib said he would consider other projects which were needed by the people of Balik Pulau.
“These past two days, our country has seen various victories in the field of economy and sports.
“Hopefully, we will also see such victories in the coming general election,” he added.
At the Kenduri Rakyat, thousands of locals gathered to have lunch with the prime minister.
Present were state Barisan Nasional chairman Teng Chang Yeow, Penang Umno chairman Datuk Seri Zainal Abidin Osman, Balik Pulau Umno chairman Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya.
Meanwhile, the fishing community welcomed the assurance given by Najib.
Fisherman Tan Keng Huat, 51, said he was happy to hear the Federal Government’s stand on the reclamation project.
“We are worried about the project, which can affect our livelihood, but now I am relieved that the Federal Government is on our side.
“This is what we want from a government, to put the people’s interest first,” he said.
Another fisherman, Mohd Halim Rahman, 56, said Najib’s assurance showed that the Federal Government understood the needs of the fishing community.
“The Federal Government stands up for the people and understands our needs and fears over the reclamation project.
Source: NST Online