We Are Not Children Penang Ngos Hit Out At Pro Reclamation Supporters




Several activists have hit out at pro-Penang South Reclamation (PSR) group Anak Pinang, with one saying it was incredulous to characterise the relationship between the Penang government and NGOs as one of parent and children
Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) president Meenakshi Raman (above) said the view of the speaker - former fisherman Mohd Nasarudin Sultan - who spoke at a talk in Penang Institute last night was "extremely patronising and condescending" of the critical and independent views of civil society on the PSR and the Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP)
"We are not children, and the state is not our parent. We are independent minded and we are not blind followers of anyone," Meenakshi told Malaysiakini
"We have critical minds and are able to assess facts and do our own research," added the chairperson of the Tanjung Bungah Residents Association

"To ascribe the supporters of Penang Forum as being blind followers is insulting the intelligence of the Penang public," she stressed
Describing Penang as a democratic society, Meenakshi said in such a society, all views, even though they are critical of the government, must be taken into account and considered seriously
"The role of civil society is to speak truth to power, and this role must be appreciated in an inclusive society, and not condemned."At a talk organised by Anak Pinang dubbed "Penang Future: New Islands?" Nasarudin (above) took the Penang government to task for engaging with NGOs which reject the PSR, while he also complained about the delay in implementing the project
During his speech, Nasarudin, who claimed to have been a fisherman for 10 years, described the state government as a "weak parent" for interacting too much with these NGOs
Involving three artificial islands in Bayan Lepas, the PSR will be fully developed in 20 years by SRS Consortium, the state's project delivery partner
Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said 30 percent of the development on the islands, which are state land, will be sold to fund the estimated cost of RM46 billion of the PTMP
The PTMP includes the light rail transit from Bayan Lepas to Komtar, the state's administrative centre
Penang Forum, a coalition of more than 40 NGOs, including SAM and the 5,000 strong Penang Fishermen Association, is the project's harshest critic
Saying that Penang Forum suffers from "selective amnesia", Anak Pinang spokesperson Timothy Tye (above) criticised the NGO members as "blind supporters"
To which, Penang Forum spokesperson Khoo Salma Nasution said, "It sounds like these people, who see themselves as children of the Penang government, are demanding more attention from their parents
"It is difficult to engage with political party members and real estate agents about the appraisal of public projects as they have a clear conflict of interest," she shot back
Tye had also blamed the NGOs for "tossing names" and quoting documents like the Halcrow Report, an alternative public transport proposal, knowing not many would read the entire text
Penang-based social reform movement Aliran's Anil Netto said the Halcrow masterplan was formulated by experienced transport consultants
"The much more expensive SRS proposal was put up by a consortium of contractor and developers who stand to make billions from the deal," he said
"Which would you trust?" - Mkini

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