PENANG will suffer enormously in terms of economy in the long run if the Penang South Reclamation (PSR) project fails to take off.
State Transport and Infrastructure Committee chairman Zairil Khir Johari told the state assembly today that the state would not be able to attract investments worth billions of ringgit in the absence of industrial parks.
The proposed project involves the creation of three artificial islands, part of which will be allocated for industrial development and housing needs.
“In principle, the Penang government does not face severe financial implications if the implementation of the PSR project is delayed or cancelled.
“This is because the PSR project is fully funded by the SRS Consortium.
“However, the impact of the loss of this project on the economy of Penang is enormous in the long run in terms of land availability, attracting new investment, job opportunities and others,” Zairil told the state assembly.
Zairil (PH – Tanjung Bunga) said this in response to an oral question from Lee Khai Loon (PH – Machang Bubok) who wanted to know if there was any financial implications if the PSR project did not materialise.
If the project is constructed, Zairil said the three islands would have a minimum height of 3m above sea level to protect them from rising seas as well as to handle a 30% increase in rainfall.
To a supplementary question by Lee whether there is any plan by the state government to apply a green financing model to the PSR project, Zairil said a green financing workshop related to the project would be held on Dec 4.
The workshop, which will touch on environmental, social and governance (ESG) values, will be attended by Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow, he said.
Green financing is to increase level of financial flows (from banking, micro-credit, insurance and investment) from the public, private and not-for-profit sectors to sustainable development priorities.
Zairil said the Penang government always practises an open policy by holding public hearing sessions to get valuable feedback from Penangites regarding important projects in the state, including the PSR project.
He revealed that said from 2016 until Oct 31 this year, a total of 13,957 individuals have given their feedback on the PSR project.
Based on the public hearing sessions that had been conducted all these years, Zairil said it is safe to say that the majority of Penangites can accept the implementation of the PSR project if it does not have any significant negative impact on the environment and the fishing community.
“This is good because it shows that they are aware of the importance of this project and the benefits it will bring in terms of economic growth and future development.
“To address the environmental impact, the PSR project will implement environmental control measures before and during reclamation, such as consistently monitoring the water quality, air quality, noise and vibration, waste and pollutant management as well as disposal of dredged material.
“The installation of silt curtains will also help to reduce water pollution especially during reclamation and dredging works.
“And also to minimise the impact on marine ecology, we will implement the ecology offset programmes that include mangrove planting, deployment of artificial reefs and fish aggregating devices, releases of fish and prawn fry, research funds and others.
“These measures will ensure the reclamation proceeds in a controlled manner to prevent pollution.
“The offset programmes also will help create new habitats for marine life and boost fish stock, which contributes towards the sustainability of the fisheries sector,” he added.
State Opposition Leader Datuk Muhamad Yusoff (BN – Sungai Dua), in his supplementary question, also asked whether there is any involvement from the NGOs during the engagement session on the PSR project.
Zairil said various NGOs are also involved during the process, including those who are for and against the PSR project.
“Recently also, the state government has received a letter of support from 1,521 residents who live nearby the area of PSR project.
“And from 1,521 residents, 435 of them are from the fishing community that give their utmost support to the project.
“As we have said many times, the state government will do its best to minimise the environmental impact from this project,” he added.
Story by Riadz Akmal
Pix by Muhamad Amir Irsyad Omar and Ahmad Adil Muhamad