Friday, June 03, 2016

A Haunt in the Hills

The hills of Penang are dotted with “haunted houses” – bungalows built as retreats from the heat of the lowlands in the days before air conditioning was ubiquitous. They’ve since been abandoned, and are now slowly being reclaimed by the jungle.

One such bungalow is on the little-hiked Bukit Lang (also known as Bukit Zizai) in Tanjung Bungah. This haunted house – never particularly easy to reach – was made even more inaccessible when a construction project in Lembah Permai bulldozed through the lower reaches of the trail.

"Haunted" House
Tanjung Bungah assemblyman Teh Yee Cheu, known for trying to get his constituents out of their cars and onto their bicycles, is a keen hiker himself. With support from Jawatankuasa Keselamatan dan Kesihatan (JKKK) Tanjung Bungah and plenty of volunteers, the trail was recently re-routed and re-opened. The haunted house was given a coat of paint and a new roof; and with its availability of fresh water the trail has the potential to become a regular destination for local hikers and fitness enthusiasts, much like rest stops 5 and 46 on Penang Hill.

This haunted house was officially re-opened on April 17 this year. I joined the opening hiking party at the start of the new trail, which lies at the very end of Lorong Lembah Permai 3, past Tunku Abdul Rahman College. It is clearly marked between two large rocks with a signboard stating “Zizai Lodge, 1,650 kaki”. This 1,650 feet (about 500m) is the altitude of the haunted house. For comparison, Penang Hill is at 2,411 feet (734m). ...

... For full article, please read: http://penangmonthly.com/a-haunt-in-the-hills/

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Make public consultant report on Penang Transport Master Plan


 May 10, 2016. By Dr Lim Mah Hui

The Penang Government has been releasing information on a piecemeal basis, making it difficult for concerned NGOs to provide constructive criticisms on the viability of schemes under the plan.

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/penang-1.jpg

NGOs initiated the idea of a Penang master transport plan

Civil society is not against the Penang state government’s idea for a transport master plan. In fact it was the NGOs that first suggested this idea in 2009 to the new Penang Government that just came into power.

Many professionals from civil society volunteered their time freely and served in the Penang Transport Council and helped prepare the documentation for commissioning the master transport plan that was then awarded to the Halcrow consultants in mid-2011.

So the state government cannot accuse us of opposing the idea of a master transport plan. What we are questioning is the content of the present Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) as proposed by SRS consultant (SRS Consortium) with its many flaws.

SRS is a joint venture between Gamuda Berhad, Ideal Property Development Sdn Bhd and Loh Phoy Yen Holdings Sdn Bhd.

Release the SRS consultant report in full

The Penang Government invited public participation. It has organised many briefing sessions by the SRS consultants to members of public. We welcome that. But we say this is only a small, though positive, part of a consultative process.

However, for the consultation to be truly genuine, the first and foremost condition is for the Penang state government to release in full the report done by the SRS on the PTMP.

So far it has only provided very selective and superficial parts of the study to the public in public forums and on its website.

The public cannot be expected to give proper feedback when they are partially blindfolded. This is not acceptable for a state that professes to practise CAT (competence, accountability and transparency).

If the state has nothing to hide, as it claims, it must answer satisfactorily why the full report is not shared with the public. Which parts are confidential and why?

The state cannot hide behind legal excuses and the limitations in the freedom of information curtain for not releasing the report.

We have wasted six months of precious time since the report was given to the state in November 2015.

Members of the public have a right to know what is in the report so that they can engage more meaningfully with the state.

Go beyond top-down briefing sessions

Second, the public sessions conducted are mainly top-down briefing sessions by the consultants followed by question-and-answer sessions. There is little follow-up on how the questions and concerns raised are addressed.

When several NGOs provided written feedback, instead of getting together to professionally discuss the concerns raised and going through the objections and facts scientifically, a press conference is called to debunk the NGOs who are accused of not doing their homework. There is no positive engagement.

Among the fundamental issues raised are the population and ridership assumptions, the costs of the different public transport systems, and the lack of financial feasibility studies for each of the proposed public transport system.

If these details are in the report, they must be made public. They cannot be hidden and then selectively given piecemeal to the public.

Don’t put the cart before the horse and financially burden Penangites

It is easy to propose building an LRT, monorail or a tram system from an engineering point of view.

But it is more difficult to manage and run them efficiently and in a financially viable manner so as not to plunge the public into huge debt as has happened in many places, including the LRT system in Kuala Lumpur, that had to be bailed out by the government.

Hence, we have been asking that a detailed financial feasibility study be provided to the public for each of these proposed systems.

This includes not only the construction costs, but the operation and maintenance costs, the depreciation costs, the replacement cost, the ridership forecast, the projected revenue, the financial break even analysis, the expected profit or loss, how much the state would have to subsidise yearly, etc.

Such detailed analyses on each different system and options (e.g. an LRT versus tram line to the airport) must be done and considered before deciding which system is most suitable and financially viable

Among the answers we are getting is that after the project is built, the government will then call for tenders to manage and operate the project. This is putting the cart before the horse and is not international best practice. It puts too much financial risk on the people of Penang.

That is why we urgently call for a genuine and open consultative process and urge the state government not to rush into signing multi-billion tender awards that may end up financially unviable and burdening Penangites of this and future generations.

Dr Lim Mah Hui is a Penang city councillor

With a firm belief in freedom of expression and without prejudice, FMT tries its best to share reliable content from third parties. Such articles are strictly the writer’s personal opinion. FMT does not necessarily endorse the views or opinions given by any third party content provider.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

NGOs' 2-Minute Video Response to the Penang Transport Masterplan


The Penang Transport Masterplan

The NGOs' response to The Penang Transport Master Plan in less than 2 minutes.... please share the video! #‎PenangTransportMasterplan


槟城交通大蓝图 - 15 个NGO 的回应及建议

这个将会影响到每一个槟城人,长达50年,400亿的《交通大蓝图》所建议的公交系统
­采用会影响槟城市容的高架 LRT 及 Monorail ,兴建道路等。由“槟城论坛”及15个非政府组织所组成联署,道出这个计划中的隐忧,­并建议以轻轨车(新型电车)做替代方案,并列出其优点。

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Penang Heritage Trust: Impressions of Prangin Canal and the Penang Transport Master Plan



Impressions of how the proposed monorail, light rail transit (LRT) and the integrated transit hub in Prangin Canal area will look like from the Penang Transport Master Plan. These views will show the relative distance of the pylons, the height of the platforms, and the possible developments that may happen within and at the boundaries of the George Town World Heritage Site.

PHT is not against any form of development that will benefit the population. However, we question the need to propose 3 different lines (including the tram), at various elevations and with an inflated cost, as compared to modern day, integated ground level trams which cost a fraction of what is proposed here.
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1101488409914162.1073741837.206250309437981&type=3

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Public response to Penang transport masterplan

We, the undersigned civil society organisations, wish to issue the following statement in response to the Penang Transport Master Plan.


We support the idea of a transport masterplan and the need to prioritise public transport over the present private car-centred transport system. We wish to commend the Penang State Government for this pro-active move. However there are very fundamental and critical issues that need to be addressed before the current proposals by SRS are acceptable.

1. Do our population projections warrant such a massive scheme at such tremendous costs, currently estimated at RM40bn? SRS projects 2.45m people by 2030 while the Malaysian Statistics Department projects 1.94m by 2040. Penang currently has negative population growth and the only way SRS’s projected figures can be achieved is if there is a massive net in-migration of over 50,000 people yearly – something that is unrealistic.

2. Following from the above, the financial viability of a public transport system is dependent on ridership and usage and its cost structure; otherwise, it ends up as a bleeding white elephant waiting to be bailed out by the people of Penang. Will our projected ridership be able to support such costly projects as the LRT and monorail, which are four to six times more expensive than new generation tram systems, which can equal the carrying capacity of LRT.

3. The success of a public transport system also hinges on its level of accessibility, connectivity and integration. As far as possible, there should a single integrated system. Why does SRS propose four different systems – LRT, monorail, tram and bus rapid transit – which will be difficult and more costly to coordinate, maintain & upgrade? Seamless connectivity will be difficult to achieve and KL’s failures should not be repeated.

4. The monorail is eminently unsuitable for the Penang landscape, being elevated, unsightly and intrusive. Even the present chief minister of Penang rejected the monorail system in 2013 as being unsuitable for the city. Transport experts tell us it is used for short sectors at theme parks and is hardly used anywhere in the world for public transportation. Furthermore, it is unsafe. If a breakdown or fire occurs midway, there is no safe route for passengers to escape. Sydney has dismantled its monorail, and Malacca’s monorail is non-functional and a visual and economic blight on its city. Do we need to go down this treacherous route?

5. Why is the tram system limited to the World Heritage Site? Modern generation trams are used in many cities. These modern trams are more manoeuverable, flexible and much less costly to build and operate. Trams require only an 11m turning radius compared to the LRT’s 135m, hence reducing the extent of land acquisition required if an LRT system is built. Their carrying capacity also matches LRT. A combination of a single integrated network of modern trams with BRT can adequately cater to both the island and the mainland’s needs.

6. The most worrying concern is that the PTMP lacks vision. It is touted as a plan for Penang for the next 50 years. Yet it is trapped in 20th century technology and approach in planning. It proposes obsolescent solutions to Penang’s transport problems, ignoring the latest developments in mass transit planning around the world. It neither anticipates nor plans for future sustainability and is still very car-centric. It will condemn the people of Penang to a system that does not resolve the state’s transportation woes and for a very high and unjustifiable cost.

7. Progressive cities throughout the world are now taking steps to reduce rather than cater to private vehicles entering into cities, greening and removing highways, and aiming to achieve zero carbon emissions. Yet, priority is given in the PTMP to building more roads and tunnels to cater to private vehicles. The purpose of building public transport is to reduce, not encourage, private vehicle usage. Even the new mayor of a car-centric city like Houston, Slyvester Turner, recently acknowledged that widening one of the city’s main highways to 26 lanes at a cost of RM10bn (US$2.6bn) only increased traffic and made congestion worse! Penang, which proudly declares it wants to lead, appears to demonstrate a total ignorance of current world concerns and trends.

8. The Halcrow Transport Master Plan recommended many cost-effective and short-term measures for reducing traffic that included better parking policies, city cycling, mobility improvement, high-occupancy-vehicle lanes, sharing vehicles etc. since 2012. Much time has been lost and this “better, faster, cheaper” strategy does not seem to be a focus of the PTMP.

9. For a government committed to CAT (competence, accountability and transparency), there is a lack of clarity with regard to the financing of the entire scheme. What are the people of Penang being committed to? How will payment via reclamation work? Will SRS implement roads first and public transport last? What happens if we run out of funds after the initial stages? Will the public be subjected to unaffordable fares, thereby making them return to their cars? No answers are provided in the PTMP.

For all these reasons, the people of Penang should not be rushed into signing this important agreement. More transparency, accountability and genuine engagement with the public are needed.
Signatories
  1. Penang Forum
  2. Penang Heritage Trust
  3. Aliran
  4. Sahabat Alam Malaysia
  5. Consumers Association of Penang (CAP)
  6. Malaysian Nature Society
  7. Citizens for Public Transport Coalition (Cepat)
  8. Friends of Botanical Garden
  9. Pesticide Action Network Asia & Pacific
  10. Tanjong Bunga Residents Association
  11. Women’s Centre for Change
  12. Suara Rakat Malaysia (Suaram)
  13. PBTUSM Alumni Northern region
  14. Mama Bersih
  15. Ombak Arts Studio
  16. Persatuan Pendidikan Seni Pulau Pinang (Arts-Ed)
25 April 2016

https://penangforum.net/2016/04/25/public-response-to-penang-transport-masterplan/

Friday, April 15, 2016

Penang board chides council for appealing against condo project, orders it to pay RM35,000

GEORGE TOWN, April 13 — The Penang Appeals Board ordered the Penang Island City Council (MBPP) today to pay RM35,000 in total costs after telling it off for appealing against the board’s stay order over a high rise project in Tanjung Pinang off Tanjung Tokong.

The coast off the island in the background (where the high rises are) is marked for the proposed Sri Tanjung Pinang II reclamation project that will cover 760 acres. — Picture by K.E. Ooi
The board chairman Datuk Yeo Yang Poh ordered MBPP to pay costs of RM20,000 to the appellants and RM15,000 to the planning applicant.

“The board has powers to grant stay orders as provided under Section 23(3) and Section 36(10)(g) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1976,” he said as he rejected MBPP’s submissions that the board did not have the power to order a stay.

The board had granted the appellants, consisting of residents of Seri Tanjung Pinang, a stay order on the planning permission for the project, City Of Dreams, which is made of two 39-storey condominium blocks.

MBPP, in its appeal against the stay order, submitted that the board did not have the power to grant stay orders.

It also argued that the board did not need to take public interest into account when making such decisions.

Yeo labelled the council’s submission that the board do not need to take public interest into account as “absurd”.

“It defies common sense as matters of public interest is certainly relevant in the function of the board,” he said.

He said all aspects of the planning law was in the interest of the public and that it was the board’s responsibility to take into account public interest.

He pointed out that the issue of the board not having the power to grant stay orders based on public interest has never been raised since its formation in 1989.

“I am surprised that the respondent as a public authority could take up such an issue and present such points without putting enough work in it,” he said.

Yeo criticised MPPP’s arguments, saying the council did not appear to have made any effort to understand the case before submitting an appeal against the stay order.

“It is worrying that the respondent doesn’t seem to understand what transpired in this case,” he said.

He said the council’s pursuit of the case does not sit well with its role as a public authority especially when it has a duty to safeguard public interest.

Yeo later extended the stay order against the planning permission until the next decision date to be fixed later.

The planning applicant, Ewein Zenith Sdn Bhd, is only allowed to do piling works and works necessary for piling for the project.

It had initially obtained planning approval for the project in March 2015 before the board granted the appellants a stay order against the project late last year.

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/penang-board-chides-council-for-appealing-against-condo-project-orders-it-t

Monday, April 11, 2016

Penang High Court rejects ‘Botak Hill’ defamation suit against DAP rep

DAP's Teh Yee Chew (right) shaking hands with his lawyer, Cheah Eng Soon, after the defamation suit against him was thrown out by the Penang high court, April 11, 2016. — Picture by KE Ooi
DAP's Teh Yee Chew (right) shaking hands with his lawyer, Cheah Eng Soon, after the defamation suit against him was thrown out by the Penang high court, April 11, 2016. — Picture by KE Ooi


Published: April 11, 2016 10:08 AM GMT+8
Published: April 11, 2016 10:08 AM GMT+8
GEORGE TOWN, April 11 — The Penang High Court today dismissed a private firm’s defamation suit against DAP’s Teh Yee Cheu over his remarks on the illegal hill clearing of the so-called “Botak Hill” here.

Justice Hadhariah Syed Ismail ruled that Teh’s remarks on the illegal hill clearing of Bukit Relau by General Accomplishments Sdn Bhd (GASB) was not defamatory.

“I find that the published suggestions by Teh that provisions under the National Forestry Act 1984 and the Environmental Quality Act 1974 be looked at in the case against GASB is not defamatory against the plaintiff,” she said when delivering her judgement today.

She then dismissed GASB’s defamation suit against Teh and ordered GASB to pay costs of RM30,000 to Teh.

GASB and Tan Sri Tan Kok Ping had jointly filed a writ of summons against Teh for allegedly issuing slanderous statements to the press during his “hair shaving ceremony” on January 1, 2014.

In the suit filed in May 2014, they contended that Teh had maliciously issued statements that “inextricably imputed a disparaging, irreparably and falsified general perception of GASB”.

Today, Hadhariah also ruled that statements Teh had made against GASB and the hill clearing that was published by various media including The Malaysian Insider and Nanyang Siang Pau were not defamatory.

Teh’s counsel, Cheah Eng Soon, said the court has also agreed with his submissions that Teh’s remarks advising Tan to adhere to existing laws on hill clearing were not defamatory in nature.

On January 1, 2014, Teh shaved his head bald as a symbolic “protest” to what he deemed as insufficient action taken against GASB over the illegal hill clearing of Bukit Relau.

GASB was fined RM30,000 by the Penang Sessions Court in 2013 for failing to submit earthworks plan as required by Section 70A of the Street, Drainage and Building Act 1974 but Teh felt this was not enough.

Teh held the head-shaving ceremony to push for more actions to be taken against GASB and also to push the firm to start rehabilitation works on the hill immediately.

He had called on the Forestry Department, the Department of Environment (DOE) and also the Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID) to visit the site and to also take legal action against the landowner in accordance to their respective acts.

http://m.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/penang-high-court-rejects-botak-hill-defamation-suit-against-dap-rep
GEORGE TOWN, April 11 — The Penang High Court today dismissed a private firm’s defamation suit against DAP’s Teh Yee Cheu over his remarks on the illegal hill clearing of the so-called “Botak Hill” here.
Justice Hadhariah Syed Ismail ruled that Teh’s remarks on the illegal hill clearing of Bukit Relau by General Accomplishments Sdn Bhd (GASB) was not defamatory.
“I find that the published suggestions by Teh that provisions under the National Forestry Act 1984 and the Environmental Quality Act 1974 be looked at in the case against GASB is not defamatory against the plaintiff,” she said when delivering her judgement today.
She then dismissed GASB’s defamation suit against Teh and ordered GASB to pay costs of RM30,000 to Teh.
GASB and Tan Sri Tan Kok Ping had jointly filed a writ of summons against Teh for allegedly issuing slanderous statements to the press during his “hair shaving ceremony” on January 1, 2014.
In the suit filed in May 2014, they contended that Teh had maliciously issued statements that “inextricably imputed a disparaging, irreparably and falsified general perception of GASB”.
Today, Hadhariah also ruled that statements Teh had made against GASB and the hill clearing that was published by various media including The Malaysian Insider and Nanyang Siang Pau were not defamatory.
Teh’s counsel, Cheah Eng Soon, said the court has also agreed with his submissions that Teh’s remarks advising Tan to adhere to existing laws on hill clearing were not defamatory in nature.
On January 1, 2014, Teh shaved his head bald as a symbolic “protest” to what he deemed as insufficient action taken against GASB over the illegal hill clearing of Bukit Relau.
GASB was fined RM30,000 by the Penang Sessions Court in 2013 for failing to submit earthworks plan as required by Section 70A of the Street, Drainage and Building Act 1974 but Teh felt this was not enough.
Teh held the head-shaving ceremony to push for more actions to be taken against GASB and also to push the firm to start rehabilitation works on the hill immediately.
He had called on the Forestry Department, the Department of Environment (DOE) and also the Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID) to visit the site and to also take legal action against the landowner in accordance to their respective acts.
- See more at: http://m.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/penang-high-court-rejects-botak-hill-defamation-suit-against-dap-rep#sthash.WRKK36Cu.dpuf
GEORGE TOWN, April 11 — The Penang High Court today dismissed a private firm’s defamation suit against DAP’s Teh Yee Cheu over his remarks on the illegal hill clearing of the so-called “Botak Hill” here.
Justice Hadhariah Syed Ismail ruled that Teh’s remarks on the illegal hill clearing of Bukit Relau by General Accomplishments Sdn Bhd (GASB) was not defamatory.
“I find that the published suggestions by Teh that provisions under the National Forestry Act 1984 and the Environmental Quality Act 1974 be looked at in the case against GASB is not defamatory against the plaintiff,” she said when delivering her judgement today.
She then dismissed GASB’s defamation suit against Teh and ordered GASB to pay costs of RM30,000 to Teh.
GASB and Tan Sri Tan Kok Ping had jointly filed a writ of summons against Teh for allegedly issuing slanderous statements to the press during his “hair shaving ceremony” on January 1, 2014.
In the suit filed in May 2014, they contended that Teh had maliciously issued statements that “inextricably imputed a disparaging, irreparably and falsified general perception of GASB”.
Today, Hadhariah also ruled that statements Teh had made against GASB and the hill clearing that was published by various media including The Malaysian Insider and Nanyang Siang Pau were not defamatory.
Teh’s counsel, Cheah Eng Soon, said the court has also agreed with his submissions that Teh’s remarks advising Tan to adhere to existing laws on hill clearing were not defamatory in nature.
On January 1, 2014, Teh shaved his head bald as a symbolic “protest” to what he deemed as insufficient action taken against GASB over the illegal hill clearing of Bukit Relau.
GASB was fined RM30,000 by the Penang Sessions Court in 2013 for failing to submit earthworks plan as required by Section 70A of the Street, Drainage and Building Act 1974 but Teh felt this was not enough.
Teh held the head-shaving ceremony to push for more actions to be taken against GASB and also to push the firm to start rehabilitation works on the hill immediately.
He had called on the Forestry Department, the Department of Environment (DOE) and also the Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID) to visit the site and to also take legal action against the landowner in accordance to their respective acts.
- See more at: http://m.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/penang-high-court-rejects-botak-hill-defamation-suit-against-dap-rep#sthash.WRKK36Cu.dpuf

Friday, March 18, 2016

Penang need not pay land compensation with appeals board nod, chief says



GEORGE TOWN, March 14 — Penang’s state appeals board chairman Datuk Yeo Yang Poh gave an assurance today the state government is not in danger of forking out billions of ringgit in compensation as a result of disputed land development.

Datuk Yeo Yang Poh said the issue of compensation does not arise when the appeals board decided against a developer’s project. — Picture by K.E.OoiHe said the government would be spared so long as the state appeals board agrees to set aside planning permission that had been approved by the city council.

“So if the board sets aside previously approved planning permission, there is no question of compensation at all,” Yeo said in his speech at the opening of an appeals board seminar at Olive Tree Hotel here.

He said there was a misconception that the board’s decision will lead to the state paying compensation to developers, due to Section 25 of the Town and Country Planning Act.

Under Section 25, once the city council granted planning permission to a developer and later revoke it due to public interest, the developer will then be entitled to some compensation.

The decision by the appeals board is separate from Section 25 as any decisions made by the board is part of a statutory scheme.

However, Yeo admitted that the board’s decisions can still be subjected to judicial review, but stressed that the issue of compensation does not arise.

“If our decision is upheld, what compensation can they talk about? If it’s overturned, they can proceed with the project, so either way, the issue of compensation does not arise at all,” Yeo told reporters later when asked to clarify.

He pointed out that these are processes set out in the Act by Parliament so there was no issue of compensation when the process is being carried out and implemented.

When asked about the state government’s insistence that it may still be liable to pay compensation to the developer, Yeo held firmly to his views.

“I hold a different view, I think the confusion may be due to Section 25 but my view is that no issue of compensation can arise at all,” he said.

Recently, the appeals board decided that the Penang Island Municipal Council (MBPP) did not need to approve the development order sought by Sunway Sdn Bhd for their land that is above 76 metres.

The developer’s land was labelled as a “special project” and was allowed development of either six units per acre or 15 units per acre by the previous government.

The Appeals Board also stated that MBPP need not pay compensation for rejecting the special project.

Fearing it may be forced to pay billions of ringgit in compensation for these projects approved by the previous administration, the Pakatan Harapan Penang government engaged Universiti Malaya Law Professor Gurdial Singh Nijar and prominent lawyer Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan to assist in handling the court cases.

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/penang-need-not-pay-land-compensation-with-appeals-board-nod-chief-says

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Penang Transport Masterplan Review by MalaysiaKini Chinese Edition


https://mk-cdn.mkini.net/984/33e711013b1dbd4c1ece4958806cdcaa.jpg

Malaysiakini Chinese version published an excellent and critically written set of Q&A on the Penang transport blue plan (https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/333654). Does anyone know of an English or Malay version?

Google Translate just can't get the fine balancing points and the local names, but here's a useful attempt: https://goo.gl/RjteZ1

Also note part of the blue plan is available here: http://goo.gl/igsE4K
Penang Forum- Towards Sustainable Development in Penang

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

SAM calls attention to clearing works in Teluk Bahang and Batu Ferringhi

By PHUAH KEN LIN - 1 March 2016




GEORGE TOWN: Suspected illegal clearing works in Teluk Bahang and Batu Ferringhi have been spotted by a civil society group.

The issue was highlighted by Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM).

Its president S.M. Mohamed Idris said a bald section was visible on a hill near Titi Kerawang here while an excavator was seen carrying out earthworks to fell trees in Batu Ferringhi.

"We are shocked to find that the hill had been cleared and were surprised how this indiscriminate act can be allowed and the reason for the clearing.

"As for the earthworks, our checks found that the felling of trees in this area was recent with no signboards or notices set up about the project.

"We are concerned by these activities because of the threat to the environment, risk of erosion, flooding downstream and marine pollution affecting the coastal areas of Batu Ferringhi," he said today.

Idris urged the local authorities to stop the activities if they are found to be illegal.

"The findings of the investigation must be immediately publicised as these questions were posed to us during our survey of the affected area," he said.


http://www.nst.com.my/news/2016/03/130512/sam-calls-attention-clearing-works-teluk-bahang-and-batu-ferringhi
SAM calls attention to clearing works in Teluk Bahang and Batu Ferringhi

Read More : http://www.nst.com.my/news/2016/03/130512/sam-calls-attention-clearing-works-teluk-bahang-and-batu-ferringhi?d=1
SAM calls attention to clearing works in Teluk Bahang and Batu Ferringhi

Read More : http://www.nst.com.my/news/2016/03/130512/sam-calls-attention-clearing-works-teluk-bahang-and-batu-ferringhi?d=1

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Tg Bungah hillslopes stripped for projects

By Audrey Dermawan - 21 February 2016
GEORGE TOWN: At least two hillslopes are being stripped for development projects in Tanjung Bungah.

Signboards put up at the sites revealed that one was for road- works in Jalan Solok Tanjung Bungah while the other was for a 50-storey affordable housing project in Lorong Lembah Permai.

Checks by the New Sunday Times on Friday, accompanied by Tanjung Bungah assemblyman Teh Yee Cheu, showed earthworks were in full swing at the project sites.

Heavy machinery was also spotted.

Teh said although the projects were being carried out at less than 76m above sea level, their steepness raised concerns. Bald patches, not covered by plastic sheets, were visible from a distance.

He said earthworks in Jalan Solok Tanjung Bungah started two months ago while those in Lorong Lembah Permai started four months ago.

“Other than myself, the Tanjung Bunga residents’ association also objected to the projects 10 years ago.

“Following the brouhaha, things went quiet for a while. It looks like the projects are in full swing.

“We hope the authorities will minimise the impact of the construction on the surrounding areas.”

Teh questioned whether there was a guarantee that the earthworks would not affect residents of Chee Seng Garden.

“Have we forgotten how the residents there were affected by mud floods on Sept 6, 2008, after nearby hills were stripped by two developers?

“It was the first time the neighbourhood was flooded in four decades. “Can we be sure that when it rains, mud water from the construction site will not flow downhill and flood the houses at the bottom? The bald patch at the hill is visible.”

Teh lamented how the skyline from Tanjung Bungah to Batu Ferringhi had changed. He said there were no fewer than 50 high-rise buildings in the stretch with nearly 10 projects pending approval.

“I dread to think of what will happen in the event of a downpour, which can lead to a landslide.”

In his statement during the Tanjung Bungah residents’ association’s annual general meeting, which is available online, chairman Datuk Renji Sathiah said the residents of Tanjung Bungah and their neighbouring communities had seen an acceleration in the deterioration of the environment in the past year.

“The main cause of this is that the state government favours developers over the concerns of those whose quality of life is affected by the degradation of the environment.”

Renji said development, illegal constructions, massive land reclamations without environmental impact assessments and the controversial Penang Traffic Master Plan were key issues facing the people of Tanjung Bungah and Penang.

“We must counter these threats to the environment and to our quality of life.

“But to do so, we need your support and commitment.

“Regrettably, here in our neighbourhood and elsewhere in Penang, people seem to react only when faced with a problem on their doorstep.

“This has to change if we are to show solidarity on matters impacting the community.”

http://www.nst.com.my/news/2016/02/128633/tg-bungah-hillslopes-stripped-projects

By Audrey Dermawan - 21 February 2016 @ 11:00 AM

Read More : http://www.nst.com.my/news/2016/02/128633/tg-bungah-hillslopes-stripped-projects
By Audrey Dermawan - 21 February 2016 @ 11:00 AM

Read More : http://www.nst.com.my/news/2016/02/128633/tg-bungah-hillslopes-stripped-projects
By Audrey Dermawan - 21 February 2016 @ 11:00 AM

Read More : http://www.nst.com.my/news/2016/02/128633/tg-bungah-hillslopes-stripped-projects
By Audrey Dermawan - 21 February 2016 @ 11:00 AM

Read More : http://www.nst.com.my/news/2016/02/128633/tg-bungah-hillslopes-stripped-projects

Two PKR assemblymen axed from Penang GLCs


GEORGE TOWN: Two Penang PKR assemblymen, who abstained from voting against a land reclamation motion put forward by Umno last November, have had their positions in state government-linked companies (GLCs) terminated.

Penang PKR whip Ong Chin Wen, who is also the Bukit Tengah assemblyman, has been sacked from his director’s posts in Penang Invest and Island Golf Properties Bhd, a subsidiary company of Penang Development Corporation.

Sharing the same fate is Kebun Bunga assemblyman Cheah Kah Peng who has been terminated from his director’s position in Penang Hill Corporation (PHC).

Ong and Cheah were among five PKR backbenchers who had abstained from voting against the motion which had called for public hearings for land reclamation and suspension of all new reclamation plans until oceanic, environmental and social impact studies were carried out.

The three other PKR backbenchers are Dr Norlela Ariffin (Penanti), Dr T. Jayabalan (Batu Uban) and Lee Khai Loon (Machang Bubuk).

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, who heads the two GLCs, has yet to issue an official statement on the sacking of the assemblymen.
Ong, when contacted, said he would issue a statement regarding the matter soon.


PHC general manager Dr Lawrence Khoo has, meanwhile, confirmed Cheah’s sacking.


He said Cheah was terminated from the position during the last board meeting, which was held two weeks ago.

Cheah could not be reached for comment.

http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2016/02/20/pkr-reps-sacked-from-glcs/

See TBRA's previous statement for more background:

TBRA Press-Release Hurray for Teh !

 

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Chairman's Statement - TBRA AGM 2016


Statement of Dato’ Renji Sathiah, Chairman
Tanjung Bunga Residents Association

2016 TBRA AGM, 13th April, 2016


In the past year the residents of Tanjung Bunga and neighbouring communities, as well as in Penang in general, have witnessed an acceleration in the deterioation of the environment. The main driver of this is the fact that the state government clearly favours developers over the concerns of all those whose quality of life is impacted by the degradation of the environment.

In Tanjung Bungah there were two major threats in 2015. One was the huge project, comprising three high towers off Jalan Sungai Kelian, bordering on the DEE condominium in the heart of Tanjung Bunga. The condominium residents organised a press conference which was well supported and attended. The TBRA joined in this effort and I wrote to the Mayor expressing our deep concern over the development and its ramifications. The Mayor’s response was to ask the developer to lower the height of the building but, regrettably, the density was maintained. The second was the proposal and call for tenders by the Penang Development Council for the reclamation of 20 acres of land and the construction of a marina between the One Tanjung condominium and the Penang Swimming Club. The TBRA organised a demonstration against this proposal, which was well supported, in front of One Tanjung. The TBRA’s objections to the project were also made known to the Mayor in my letter. We have also been trying to work with the Penang Swimming Club, which will be seriously impacted by this project, to work on a joint response. To date there are no indications that the PDC proposal is still being considered. Possibly, in view of the major reclamation works planned for Tanjung Tokong and on the south coast, the state authorities may have decided to withhold this exercise. We will, however, remain vigilant.

We also face a number of other issues: pointless construction of pavements and barriers in different parts of Tanjung Bungah, benefitting contractors and ignoring the protests of affected locals; the growing increase of traffic caused by over-development on the hillsides between Tanjung Bungah and Batu Ferringhi, including heavy construction in Batu Ferringhi itself and massive projects in Jalan Permai; a worsening of security in the neighbourhood and the persisting dengue problem.

The TBRA conducted a survey last year amongst its members and other Tanjung Bungah residents which provided useful insights into residents’ concerns.

The very important issue of the status of Tanjung Bungah as a secondary corridor and not a primary corridor based on a major discrepancy in the second Penang Structure Plan, which had Tanjung Bungah classified as a primary development corridor in a diagram when the text showed it as a secondary corridor, remains unresolved. The developers, it appears, have been given free rein as there is no gazetted Local Plan.

The good news is the revival of the Penang Forum, which took on the issue of illegal hill slope construction in a “Save the Hills” campaign. A public forum was held with about 300 participants, followed by a meeting with the Chief Minister to discuss his claims that the Penang Forum was uninformed and misled by the opposition and the media. It was an exhaustive meeting with the Forum producing compelling evidence that the current state government had approved some of these projects. The Forum argued that the state was not legally obliged to renew earlier applications and could have imposed new conditions on them and that there was no legal basis for compensation as claimed by the state. The Chief Minister has suggested that the Forum’s experts meet with their state counterparts on these issues.

Of great significance was the Appeal Board’s judgement on the appeal made by residents in Sungai Ara against a 600 home project on the hillside next to where they lived. The Board ruled that this “Special Project” ( used to justify what would not be normally allowed under law) did not fall under the legal definition i.e that it is only for limited development and in the public interest. Furthermore, the MBPP did not have the authority to approve such projects. This landmark ruling provides grounds for challenges to other such projects.

The TBRA would like to work with other residents associations in Penang to put pressure on the authorities to respond to peoples’ concerns and to support the efforts of the Penang Forum.

Overdevelopment, illegal construction, massive land reclamations without rigorous and credible environmental impact assessments and now a controversial Penang Traffic Master Plan, recently announced by the government, are the key issues facing us in Tanjung Bungah and Penang as a whole. We must counter these threats to the environment and to our quality of life but to do so we need your support and commitment. Regrettably, here in our neighbourhood and elsewhere in Penang, people seem to only react when faced with a problem on their doorstep. This has to change if we are to become truly effective by showing solidarity on matters impacting on the community as a whole.

[This document is also available here in document format: https://goo.gl/qCs9eH]

Monday, February 01, 2016

Recent Photos of Developments Viewed from Infinity

Photos taken by a resident from Infinity apartment:
Behind the market. Before Concord Garden


To the right (West) of TAR College and behind Villa Permai and Taman Sri Setia


Leader Garden and Chee Seng Garden in the far background
Behind Chee Seng Garden

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Appeals Board decides in favour of Sungai Ara residents


"The Appeals Board this morning decided in favour of the residents of Persiaran Kelicap and Solok Kelicap over a “special project” on hilly land near them.

... The significant proportion of the site was higher than the threshold of 250 feet above sea level with slopes exceeding 25 degrees.

There were flaws in the planning approval: The state planning committee cannot delegate its powers for approving such sensitive hill land development to the MBPP, which has no authority to approve such projects.

The Penang Structure Plan, forbidding development above 250 feet was gazetted in 2007. Planning approval for the site was granted in 2012. So that’s another issue. It must be for planning permission given before the Structure Plan.

... Not a single reporter was present; so this is unlikely to be widely reported in the media. Many of them were up on Botak Hill for a site visit, arranged by the MBPP, which was scheduled for the same time. Penang Forum steering committe members were at both places."

For more details, please read Anil Netto at http://anilnetto.com/economy/development-issues/appeals-board-decides-in-favour-of-sungai-ara-residents/

Notification of Annual General Meeting - 13 February 2016


TANJONG BUNGA RESIDENTS’ ASSOCIATION

Notification of Annual General Meeting

Dear Members and friends of TBRA,

Our Association will hold its 2016 Annual General Meeting on

Date:    Saturday 13  February 2016

Venue: Meeting Room (Boardroom) Tanjong Bunga Market, 11200 Penang, 1st floor

Time:    3 pm  (if you are not a life member please come at 2:30 to settle annual payment of membership fees. We’ll be there to make it easy !)

Agenda:

The business of the Annual General Meeting shall consist of:

    1. To receive the Chairman’s address;

    1. To confirm the minutes of the previous General Meeting;

    1. To receive and adopt the Annual Report by the Secretary;

    1. To receive and adopt the Audited Statement of Accounts by the Treasurer;

    1. To consider any resolution of which written notice should be given to the Secretary at least seven (7) clear days prior to the meeting;

    1. To discuss matters of general interest;

Please do attend !

Yours sincerely

Peter Boyd
Secretary
For and on behalf of
Tanjong Bunga Residents’ Association                                           07 January 2016

Distribution: All Members

‘Hundreds of millions in compensation’?

Jan 15, 2016 by Anil Netto

In all my years of observing politics, whether local or foreign, I have never before come across an administration that so frequently warns of the possibility of having to pay “(hundreds of) millions in compensation” to developers or landlords. To me, this mantra seems to be a favourite fall-back position (to browbeat critics into silence?).

The latest occasion was when prominent lawyer Agatha Foo presented Penang Forum’s position on ‘special projects’ on hill land during a meeting with the state government in Komtar on 11 January 2016.

In a nutshell:

In 1996, a Development and Control Masterplan was drawn up. This was just a guideline that was never gazetted. Under this guideline, several areas of hill land under conservation were scandalously classified as housing (bungalow lots). No thanks to the BN administration back then.

In 2007, the Penang Structure Plan was gazetted, thus making it a legal document. This forbade development more than 250 feet above sea level and on slopes more than 25 degree gradient. But it made an exception, allowing limited development for ‘special projects’. Unfortunately, it did not provide a definition for special projects.

In 2009, the State Planning Committee came up with a guideline to define special projects, which seemed to widen their scope. It allowed public infrastructure and, for cases where planning permission had been approved before the Structure Plan was adopted, it accepted any change of conditions to housing.

Crucially, the 2009 guideline also accepted the hill land areas that were classified as housing zones in the 1996 masterplan, which was really only a guideline.

Penang Forum’s contention is that these areas should have been rezoned back to their original status, i.e. hill land under the Land Conservation Act 1960, in compliance with the Penang Structure Plan forbidding development above 250 feet.

No compensation need be payable as the rezoning would only apply to areas where no planning application had been approved and no development work had started (thus distinguishing it from the Boustead case in George Town where piling work had already begun and heritage conditions were later imposed to lower the height). Penang Forum is not asking for the revocation or modification of planning permission or asking that land be taken over for a public purpose; so the question of compensation should not arise.

Penang Forum also noted that planning permissions can only be extended five times; so, planning permissions approved before 2008 could not have been extended beyond 2012; therefore the 22 projects approved since 2012 are deemed new approvals. (The state government, however, claims applications can be submitted anytime.)
Stringent new conditions for hill land can be imposed when extending planning permissions.

If the Structure Plan only allows limited development for special projects, how could 55 high-rise blocks (including a hotel), approved since 2008, be regarded as “limited development”?

To this, the chief minister, after warning that the state government might be liable to pay “millions in compensation” if it did not approve these projects, then invited Agatha to meet his state legal advisors and try and convince them regarding Penang Forum’s position.

[The full text is available at this external link: https://goo.gl/OCg1oq]
... Or you can click here to continue and ...

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

TBRA Press-Release Hurray for Teh !


Tanjong Bunga’s Residents’ Association pays tribute to ADUN Teh who followed his conscience and voted for a principle.  This was taken by some as supporting the opposition and caused uproar in the Penang Assembly.

On 21 November 2015, a motion on land reclamation was debated by the Penang government’s State Assembly. Teh Yee Cheu (Tanjong Bunga), also known as the bicycle ADUN and long acknowledged as an environmental activist, was the only DAP ADUN who voted in favor of the motion. The 5 PKR ADUNs who abstained certainly conveyed a message that this issue is bigger than Party politics.

The motion asked that all projects or concessions involving reclamation be made public before they are finalised.  It also wanted any new reclamation projects to be suspended until a complete and detailed environmental impact assessment was conducted. The motion had been filed by Muhammad Farid Saad (BN-Pulau Betong).

Short-term Party politics seem to have taken priority over major environmental concerns. Yet, environmental impact assessments (EIA) must be taken seriously. EIAs must be independent and studied in depth. We need to recall how angry many residents were just last year when the EIA for STP2 was hastily approved without considering public opposition and the impact of the project on fisherfolk?

The Penang Forum had been very disappointed with the Penang State government’s determined obsession to reclaim and develop land on the island with little or no vision on sustainability for the future. Later, in a letter to the new Mayor of Penang, Patahiyah Ismail, the Forum wrote eloquently:  “Our hills are being raped; land reclamation is altering our coastlines beyond recognition; there are proposals to eliminate critical sea grass beds; siltation is destroying our beaches; fishing grounds shrink by the day; and our waters are being polluted. There has been little regard for inadequate infrastructure and current residents’ needs and concerns.”

YB Teh Yee Cheu has been consistent in alerting the media and the public about environmental disasters waiting to happen. TBRA remembers how he shaved his head over Botak Hill and how, more recently, he called on the State government to preserve the Penang seagrass bed at the Middle Bank, off the Penang Bridge, as a conservation and heritage area. Closer to home, he has consistently supported TBRA’s calls to turn the so-called “Sore Thumb” into a public park. Yet, this year, PDC, the State owned Development Corporation was allowed to call for tenders on a huge reclamation (up to 20 acres) off that very same site.

So how could Teh be expected to vote against a demand for independent EIAs, public hearings, for feedback, opinions and recommendations to be seriously considered before embarking on reclamation projects?  Recently, the State government has been attacked over lack of planning, over its too friendly relations with developers.

TBRA believes that Teh Yee Cheu was not only right to follow his convictions but also expressed the Penang people’s opposition to reclamations.

Dato’ Renji Sathiah

Chairman
Tanjung Bungah Residents’ Association
Tel: 0172128792    





Postscript for information:

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng had hoped for a unanimous vote to defeat the motion. He warned all his faithful: “if you stand with UMNO, you will pay the price!”

But the outcome was NOT unanimous. The motion was approved by 10, rejected by 22 while 5 abstained.

During the debate, Farid proposed that any projects which brought negative effects to Penang should be cancelled.

The state government was also urged to carry out a comprehensive and oceanic study, especially on the environmental and social impact caused by already-completed reclamation projects, and to stop all imminent reclamation project plans in the pipeline until this study had been completed.

YB Teh recalled a quote of his former party national chairman, the late Karpal Singh, that “there are no permanent friends or enemies, but there must be permanent principles.”

He later apologised for his “mistake” not to follow the party line. “After discussion, I felt that I have made a mistake to vote yes, in party interest, I hearby apologise to the party and want to return to continue the party’s struggle for the future,” he said.

“I understand there will be a punishment when someone makes mistake. As organising secretary, I will accept the decision by the secretary-general to carry out the punishment,” he added.

Lim said it is not easy for someone to admit making a mistake and apologise for it.

“We will definitely discuss the matter but I would like to state my appreciation to Teh for apologising to the party,” he added.

Asked if Teh was only apologising for his mistake but would withdraw his support from the motion, Lim said “it was already done in the House, you cannot withdraw your support”.

Asked why the party does not allow an assemblyperson to express his support in what he believes in, Lim said “he has already stated his views, we leave it at that”.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

City of Dreams nightmare for Seri Tanjung Pinang residents


Comment by Anil Netto
This statement by a group of Seri Tanjung Pinang residents hammers home the point as to why land and property development-for-infrastructure swap deals are a bad idea.

Such deals compromise the development regulatory process by presenting the land reclamation or property developments projects as done deals – because they are needed to finance the infrastructure projects.

City of Dreams is intricately linked to the land-for-tunnel/highways swap deal.

Better not to have swap deals and instead separate the land reclamation/property development and infrastructure projects. Assess the technical, financial and environmental feasiblity of each project separately.

The residents are claiming the City of Dreams project is going to be 156 units per acre. If true, how is this even possible?




Press release by STP residents – 26 May 2015
Click here to

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Memorandum for YAB Mr. Lim Guan Eng, Chief Minister of Penang

This memorandum was extensively discussed in a meeting between the Chief Minister and Dato' Renji Sathiah, chairperson of the TBRA and Dato' Leong, former chairperson, on July 21, 2015.

Sustainable Development for Penang and Preparation of a State Agenda 21

Preface

We propose that the Penang Green Council develop a meaningful green agenda for Penang based on Agenda 21. Agenda 21 is universally accepted as an agenda that would guide a state towards sustainable development. To have comprehensive Agenda 21 would make Penang the first state in Malaysia to have a sustainable development plan to make the transition to sustainability.

... Click for the full memo in PDF format: https://goo.gl/hHaaGL

One of the old illustrations from Structure Plan 2005

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

TBRA Has a Facebook Page!



TBRA now has a Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/tbra2015

Please "Like" it so that you can be informed of events and new posts.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

City of Dreams turning into Tanjung Tokong residents’ nightmare

This project is just outside of Tanjong Bungah and the articles give clues that the Penang government seems to be approving developments without clear plans and transparent procedures.

"The residents are claiming the City of Dreams project is going to be 156 units per acre. If true, how is this even possible?"
See AnilNetto.com for more...


Residents showing their displeasure ... (Source: TheMalaysianInsider.com)
Lim had said that Lot 702 (3.67 acres) worth RM135.08 million had already been given to Consortium Zenith BUCG as part of its said payment in kind for the feasibility studies for three proposed roads which were 97% completed.

Local assemblyman for Tanjung Bungah, Teh Yee Cheu, who was present to support the  residents, said he had objected to the project right from the beginning.

“I objected to the proposal to rezone Lot 702 on August 12, 2014. The Penang Structure Plan is due for a review,” said Teh.

He also noted that the Penang Local Plan was still at the draft stage and had yet to be gazetted by the state government.

“Under Section 25 of the Town and Country Planning Act, the state can withdraw the approved plan by paying compensation to the developer,” added Teh. – May 25, 2015.
See TheMalaysianInsider.com for more



Thursday, May 21, 2015

TBRA Needs You! Application Form for Ordinary and Life Membership


 
Use this application form to join TBRA! https://goo.gl/3yz8A2  . 

Life membership at TBRA costs RM100 - once and for all. This is the recommended option. It saves you and us the hassle of renewing membership every year. (Life membership has been approved in the AGM in 2009 and by the Registrar of Society in 2010).

But if you are applying for ordinary membership, the entrance fee is RM8 and yearly fee is RM12.

Please make check payable to (note the spelling and punctuation marks):

              Tanjong Bunga Residents' Association Penang

Let's keep Tanjong Bunga lively but also lovely!

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Anil Netto reports on 1000 residents opposing Komtar-esque towers ...

"Residents of Tanjung Bunga packed a press conference this morning to protest against a Boon Siew Group project that will see two 50-storey buildings, one 49-storey building and one 34-storey building sprouting in the area.The project is located between Jalan Sungai Kelian and Jalan Loh Poh Heng."...

... Click here to see Anil Netto's full article and follow ups.

 .