Saturday, March 03, 2018

Annual Report for TBRA 2017

Annual Report 2017

The following activities were carried out during the year:
  1. TBRA Committee Meetings - The TBRA Committee met 8 times .
  1. Meeting with the State Assemblyman – On 16 May, the TBRA Committee met up with Y.B Teh to introduce the new committee members to him and to discuss some of the issues facing residents in Tg. Bungah.
  1. Residents’ Associations of Penang (RAP) – On 17 June 2017, the Chair of TBRA, Meenakshi Raman, was selected as Coordinator of the RAP. The RAP was initiated by the Penang Forum, of which TBRA is an active member,.
  1. Meetings with government officials – In the course of the year, the TBRA Chair, along with other members of the Penang Forum, has been meeting with Y.B. Chow Kon Yeow to discuss various issues, including projects on hill lands and the floods. We also met with the former Mayor, Datuk Maimunah before she took up the post at UN-Habitat.
  1. Issues taken upThe following issues were taken up by TBRA during 2017:
  1. Support for the Sungei Ara Residents: On 9 July 2017, TBRA took the lead in organising a press conference jointly with 16 other residents’ associations, management corporations and committees, in support of the Sungei Ara residents in their legal case against the Sunway Hills project. The project comprises 600 units of apartments and bungalows on 80 acres of land and is on hillslopes above 250 ft/ 43% of which exceeds 25 degrees.
Apart from the press conference, follow-up letters were sent to the Chief Minister of Penang and the Mayor of the Penang City Council, on behalf of the 17 associations under the RAP on the issue. However, no response was received.
The Sg. Ara residents filed a case in the Court of Appeal, in order to overturn the High Court decision and affirm the Appeals Board decision. The case will be heard on Feb. 26, 2018 and TBRA will be present to support the residents’ cause. The case will have a major implication not only for Penang but Malaysia as a whole, as it relates to the development on hill-lands and the guidelines on ‘special projects.’
  1. Landslide in Paya Terubong, Lebuh Rambai 13: On 16 July, TBRA along with representatives from several residential areas in Penang (RAP), issued a press statement expressing our grave concerns over the landslide at a hillslope near Lebuh Rambai 13 in Paya Terubong, Penang, that took place in the morning of 14 July. We once again reiterated our call to the Penang State Government to prohibit development on hill-lands and to take measures to protect and stabilise hill-slopes.
  1. Aspen development, Chee Seng Gardens: In July, a few residents of houses along Jln. Chan Siew Teong sought the assistance of TBRA about a project by Aspen involving 44 storeys of high-rise apartments. TBRA met with the residents and helped them get in touch with a lawyer to assist the residents in their case with the Appeals Board. A sample letter was also drafted by TBRA for those residents who did not receive notice from the MBPP so that they can seek further clarification from the Council. TBRA alerted the lawyer and the residents about the status of Tanjung Bungah which is designated as being in the secondary corridor in the text of the Structure Plan, which states that only 15 units per acre can be allowed. TBRA has been informed that Aspen has now submitted a new (lower) plan for development and the residents have again filed their objections.
  1. Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the North-Coastal Paired Road (NCPR): In July, several TBRA Committee members studied the detailed EIA for the NCPR project and submitted written comments and feedback (on 31 July) to the Department of Environment (DOE), along with 400 signatures to a petition from residents in the Tg. Bungah area who were against the road.
A press conference was held on 3 September, which was very well covered in the media, including a front-page and lead story in the Star newspaper. A sensitization and membership drive took place on the same day. Letters were also written to the Chief Minister and the State Exco for Public Works, YB Lim Hock Seng.
Unfortunately, the DOE approved the EIA for the paired roads on 10 November. TBRA learnt that the Penang State Government was required by the DOE to submit an ‘Action Plan’ based on all the issues raised by the public, prior to the EIA approval. TBRA issued a press statement on 29 December calling for the Action Plan to be made public but there was not much coverage of this in the mainstream media. TBRA sent follow-up letters on 9 Jan 2018 to the Penang Chief Minister and the State Exco for Public Works to make public the Action Plan. There has, however, been no response to our letters.
  1. Response to Sept 15 floods: Following the massive impact of the 15 September floods that hit Penang, TBRA together with several residents’ associations and community representatives of RAP, got together on 30 September, along with members of the Penang Forum and other NGOs, including the Consumers Association of Penang, to assess how best to draw attention of the Penang authorities, the State Assembly members and the public on the need to take urgent action to solve the flood problems in the State.
A press conference was held on 15 Oct, where TBRA representing the RAPs issued a call to the State Government of Penang, and the elected representatives to take the situation of rainfall, floods and hill erosion very seriously. The press statement contained a list of demands on action to be taken. The press conference was well covered.

Following this, individual letters containing those demands were sent to all elected representatives of the Penang State Assembly, including the Chief Minister.

  1. Dialogue with State Assembly representatives on Oct 29 on Penang’s Floods: Call for Action: With the support of TBRA and other members of RAP, the Penang Forum organised the above dialogue. It focused on the causes of the floods, the severity of the impacts and the laws and the actions that need to be taken. TBRA presented the demands made to the State Assembly representatives. The dialogue was very well attended and saw a lot of publicity in the media. A video of the full session is available.
  1. Granito landslide tragedy on 21 Oct: TBRA was at the landslide tragedy on the morning of the incident and spoke to members of the press and called upon the State to set up a Commission of Inquiry (COI) into the tragedy. We also issued a press release on 23 October, along with CAP and Sahabat Alam Malaysia, asking how the project had been approved when the DOE had objected to it.
The TBRA Chair was interviewed widely by the media, including TV stations in relation to the tragedy.
On 27 October, we also issued a press statement responding to the State government’s decision to set up the COI, calling for it to be made public and for the terms of reference to also include a review of the relevant laws, guidelines and approvals as well as the monitoring and enforcement aspects with a view to making improvements. Since February 2018, TBRA has taken active part in the COI, including through asking questions and raising issues related to workers’ safety, hillslope development and planning approvals.
On 11-11-17, members of TBRA held a tree planting event at the Granito site, in honour of the 11 workers who died at the site. Some 50 members helped to dig holes and plant 30 trees. The media were also invited. The initiative was part of the City Council’s tree-planting programme.
  1. Response to 4 November floods: The TBRA once again called on the State to halt all short-sighted and patchy urban planning that continued to cause more adverse impacts on the people of Penang, following intense rains on 4 Nov. We called for the development of holistic flood prevention and mitigation.
  1. Sore Thumb’ project: The TBRA Committee is still monitoring the proposal to convert the ‘Sore Thumb’ into a coastal park. Datuk Renji, former TBRA Chair and member of the Green Council keeps the committee informed.

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