Anwar Accepts Rationale For Why Psr Project Has To Proceed

The Penang Fishermen Association had placed high hopes on PKR president Anwar Ibrahim (above) to express their protest over the Penang South Reclamation project (PSR), but the latter now says the project has to go on
At a press conference in Komtar today, with Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow, Anwar said he has heard the rationale behind the project and understands why it needs to be implemented
Anwar and several PKR leaders met with Chow and the project delivery partner SRS Consortium for an hour in Komtar today about the Penang South Reclamation, which obtained federal approval with 72 conditions on Jul 4
"I gave my views about an inclusive development concept, and I said that it must not marginalise those who are affected by it," Anwar told reporters
I appreciate the CM's frankness and openess to discuss this project, and I have no objections that it has to be continued," added the Port Dickson MP.Anwar said the state clarified that the rationale for the reclamation project was the increasing cost of transportation, and its limited capacity to fund the project
This is why the state chose the implement the PSR, Anwar added
"I did say that they must review the project and seek alternative ways to resolve the state's traffic woes
"I also said the state must find other means of funding the project, and whether it can be funded by the federal government
"I will support the state in this matter and have asked PKR leaders to continue to engage the fishermen and NGOs in forums to explain the project to them," Anwar said
On Jul 17, Anwar met the fishermen group and was told their grouses, promising to highlight them to Chow, but the opposition described his move as a "sandiwara" (drama), and labelled him a "hypocrite seeking publicity"
Penang Fishermen Association chairperson Nazri Ahmad said the fishing community is firmly against reclamation as it would negatively affect their livelihood
Nazri said they were also more interested in how they can fit into the state's transformation plan, instead of monetary compensation
But Chow said the group, led by Nazri, had submitted a list of requirements to the state for ex-gratia payment, like better equipped fishing boats so that they can carry on fishing if the reclamation project takes off
Asked why he met the fishermen if he was eventually going to support the reclamation, Anwar said he wanted to hear their grievances and bring it to the state's leadership
"I did not promise them anything, but that I am willing to hear their grouses and bring them to a higher level," he said
"I needed to hear views from both sides. Now that I hear the rationale for the project, I have no objections to it, just that it must not marginalise the community," he added
"I have also said the state must listen to the NGOs as well, and continue discussions about compensation to the fishermen," he stressed
Chow said if the state can acquire federal funding, it may review the scale of the project
"But right now we will continue with whatever effort we have made," Chow said
"The executive council has decided to write to Putrajaya to apply for funding for the light rail transit sistem and Pan Island Link highway project," he added
"If they can become federal funded projects, we can review the scale and size of the Penang South Reclamation," he stressed
Covering 1,821ha, the PSR, which involves three artificial islands, will be developed and partly sold to fund the state's RM46 billion Penang Transport Master Plan
NGOs, including Penang Forum, Sahabat Alam Malaysia and Consumers Association Penang, are opposed to the project
They joined 200 fishermen from Penang and Perak in a protest at Parliament on Jul 11 to ask Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad to cancel the PSR. - Mkini

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