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Nearly 5,000 protest against Penang land reclamation in Malaysia

Mohd Akhir Che Mat of Gerakan Pembela Ummah at the rally today. (Photo from Ummah Facebook). Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

Pan Pacific Agency | COMMUICATION AGENCY FOR PACIFICA REGIONS

PETALING JAYA, Sep 9, 2019, FMT. Some 5,000 people gathered today to protest the massive land reclamation of three artificial islands in the Penang South Reclamation project. The protesters comprised members of the public, fishermen, and members of over 40 organisations and political parties, reported the Free Malaysia Today.

One of the groups, Gerakan Pembela Ummah (Ummah) said they would raise the issue with Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad if the state government refused to cooperate with them.

The chairman of its Penang chapter, Mohd Akhir Che Mat, said the group would seek a meeting with the state government to discuss the issues related to the project which they claim will affect the livelihood of more than 5,000 fishermen.

The reclamation project, off the south coast of Penang Island, is to fund the RM46 billion Penang Transport Master Plan, which calls for the construction of four new highways and an LRT transit railway from George Town to the airport in Bayan Lepas.

“Penang Ummah do not reject development and we do not reject the Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP). We just want it to be reviewed,” he said.

“If we do not get their cooperation, we will go to Parliament again to meet with ministers, the prime minister and deputy prime minister and anyone else,” he said, adding if possible, they want to present Mahathir with a signed petition on the matter.

Akhir was among the 5,000 who thronged the “Penang Tolak Tambak” rally at the Permatang Damar Laut field this morning, and he did not rule out organising a bigger gathering in the future, including in front of Parliament if the project goes ahead.

“This struggle has been fought since 2014 and is led by NGOs like Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM), Penang Forum dan Persatuan Melayu Pulau Pinang (Pemenang). We will also stand with the fishermen associations.”

The petition, called “Selamatkan Pulau Pinang: Penang Tolak Tambak” is expected to be handed over to Mahathir in two months.

Fishermen have raised concerns over the loss of fishing grounds where the islands would be reclaimed.

PKR’s Permatang Pauh MP Nurul Izzah Anwar has dismissed any need for Penang to reclaim land from the sea, warning that it would only lead to “destruction and difficulties”.

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