Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Penang's Balding Hills


The Star has become rabid in its reporting of late. Its favorite target is now Lim Guan Eng and the shameless MCA-owned newspaper appears to go for the jugular by wanting to tarnish the green credentials of the DAP-led state government and clear the path of the return of the BN state government that caused all the problems in the first place.

I am of course referring to the hill projects in Penang that have caused the balding of the island and this has caused Penangites to raise the alarm and rise in strident protest. Or at least that is what The Star wants us to believe. The Sunday edition gave extensive coverage of the "crying hills" of Penang, spread out on the front page, four inside pages and editorial page.

I am baffled. Why suddenly put all this heat on the state government? I am puzzled. Why didn’t anybody make noise when the previous BN state government gave the 37 approvals to hill projects before 2008? I am befuddled. Why did The Star choose to remain silent and only now clamor for action?

You may or may not know that the Federal government’s EPU guidelines of defining a hill is exceeding 500 feet, but the Penang guidelines have fixed the building line at 250 feet. Regretably, the previous BN government violated these guidelines by not only approving 37 projects before 2008 but also gave approval for those above 250 feet and classify them as special projects.

The Yang di Pertua Majlis Perbandaran Pulau Pinang (MPPP) Patahiyah Ismail (left) had already clarified that there were nineteen projects that commenced development after 2008 but that these were actually the said special projects that were part of the earlier batch of 37 approvals. They had to be processed according to normal geo-technical guidelines and MPPP cannot reject them merely on the basis that they were above 250 feet.

As the PR state government could not cancel these hill projects, to mitigate the situation, they had to resort to imposing the most stringent guidelines in the country which were drawn up by a hillslope geo-technical committee headed by Oxford-trained engineer Dr Gue See Saw. Moreover, the protocols were imposed retrospectively much to the unhappiness of developers, some who threatened legal action.

Whilst Lim had said that he understood the unhappiness resulting from the hill projects and the problems of those residents affected by the ongoing development, there is nothing the state government can do unless the drastic step of cancelling the project is taken. To do so would entail compensation of hundreds of millions or even billions of ringgit which would bankrupt Penang, Lim had stated.

Why must DAP bear the sins of the past and pay the price for the policy decisions made by the previous Gerakan government? If Lim stop the hill projects, he will ruin Penang!

This is the Penang that PR inherited! Actually, I would like to suggest that Penangites start a petition to get the Federal Government to bear the compensation losses for cancelling the hill projects since BN were responsible for approving them in the first place. Wouldn’t it be great if The Star can put up a front-page story to press demand of restitution from the BN Federal government? Has it got the balls? Somehow, I doubt it!

Wong Chun Wai, what say you? Do you care enough to write the truth? No wonder The Star is just another thrashy newspaper! And you are no better!

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