THE Penang government has reaffirmed its stand that it will follow up on every approval required before implementing the proposed Penang South Reclamation (PSR) project.
Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the relevant agencies such as the Malaysia Fisheries Development Authority (LKIM) would be consulted.
“The state government will continue its consultation with the affected parties to discuss ex-gratia privileges and other matters.
“The eligibility of the recipients will be looked into,” he told a press conference at his office today.
Chow said a closed-door meeting with the Penang Fishermen Association was held on May 31 this year; where the association proposed several requests as compensation for the state to consider.
“I was present at the meeting together with my political secretary Teh Lai Heng and state Health, Agriculture, Agro-Based Industry and Rural Development Committee chairman Dr Afif Bahardin.
Dr Afif is also the chairman of the state task force which was set up several years ago to discuss the compensation packages with the affected fishermen.
Chow said the association did not propose compensation in cash.
“The association proposed that each boat owner be given a fisherman transformation boat to be paid by the state; and priority be given to them to purchase low-cost homes, either directly or via the rent-to-own scheme.
“The association also requested for priority to be given to the crew members (awak-awak) to purchase low-cost homes, either directly or via the rent-to-own scheme.
“The association proposed that ex-gratia privileges be given to affected fishermen, including those from Teluk Tempoyak, Batu Maung, Seri Jerejak, and Pulau Betong.
“The Penang Fishermen Association had also requested for a temporary jetty to be built for the fishermen during the PSR construction period.
“They (the association) want the jetty to be safety compliant, and for us to consider their feedback with regard to the design of the temporary jetty,” he said.
Chow said the fishermen knew that they could still earn a living through fishing even when the PSR project is ongoing.
“They did not request for cash but instead they want fisherman transformation boats and a temporary jetty to continue their fishing activities. It is a form of admission that fishing can still continue even with the project being implemented. Perhaps, they may have to travel further from their current (fishing) location.
“The reclamation project will also not encroach into fishermen villages as it only involves the sea. However, there are parties who see this as an opportunity to ask for priority to be given to them to purchase low-cost homes, either directly or via the rent-to-own scheme.
“Nevertheless, the task force will look into all those requests before meeting the association,” Chow said.
Chow said the state would also refer to past ex-gratia favours as a guideline for the compensation.
“The state is willing to brief any parties on the PSR project, if necessary. However, the state has presented the proposed PSR project during the National Physical Planning Council meeting (chaired by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in April) and was advised to address issues pertaining to the impact on fishermen and the compensation,” he said, when asked by a reporter whether the state was willing to meet Dr Mahathir to explain the PSR project.
Dr Afif said the state needed some time to study the requests proposed by the Penang Fishermen Association.
“A meeting with the association is scheduled to be held in September to further discuss the matter,” he added.
Story by Christopher Tan
Pix by Adleena Rahayu Ahmad Radzi
Video by Alissala Thian