6,000 Penang fishermen protest against PSI project by state govt

03 Aug 2023 08:00am
Penang Fishermen’s Association deputy chairman Haji Zakaria Ismail Picture by NURUL ATIKAH SARJI
Penang Fishermen’s Association deputy chairman Haji Zakaria Ismail Picture by NURUL ATIKAH SARJI

BALIK PULAU – A total of 6,000 fishermen in Penang raised objections to the controversial Penang South Island (PSI) project undertaken by the Penang government and its developer, SRS Consortium Sdn Bhd.

This project is a new urban development off the coast of Penang Island that includes homes, leisure, and work sites.

It is intended to be an Internet of Things (IOT)-enabled smart city to complement Georgetown.

In an exclusive interview with Sinar Daily, Penang Fishermen’s Association deputy chairman Haji Zakaria Ismail, 66, said that they had objected to the PSI project, previously known as the Penang South Reclamation (PSR) project, since 2015.

"This reclamation project started in 2015, and now it’s 2023. It’s been eight years since this project was implemented.

"Penang South has a very beautiful ecosystem and scenery. So why does the Penang state government want to carry out this project?" Zakaria, who is also the fishermen’s unit head in Sungai Batu, questioned.

Besides destroying the ecosystem, Zakaria stressed that this project will also permanently affect the fisherman’s daily income.

"If people interfere with our daily income, what do you think will happen to us? That is what we fishermen feel. This sea is our livelihood.

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"This project is a permanent project, which means that fishermen's income will be permanently affected.

"Our income is gone, empty. How are the fishermen here going to make a living? Do we need to ask for charity?" he questioned.

In a bold remark, he said that the south Penang fishermen's role is important for the state because their role is to provide food security for Penangites.

"We sacrificed ourselves, braved the waves, and risked our lives for the Penangites. But why are you being treated like this?", he questioned again.

Zakaria further elaborated that he and other fishermen here have been protesting as hard as they could; however, no one even listened to their 'small voice'.

In fact, they have also sent several letters to the state government, the Malaysian Fisheries Development Board, and the Malaysia Marine Department.

"Unfortunately, we are just fishermen. No one even listens to our voices. But, alhamdulillah, in 2018, several non-profit organisations came to us, and finally, our voices grew louder.

"We have also held various public demonstrations, such as in Padang Kota, Padang Polo, and some other places," he added.

Zakaria further added that they scored a moral victory when they won an appeal to revoke the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) approval for the project in 2021 after the court allowed a preliminary objection by Meanwhile, the approval by the Environment Department for the project's EIA was set aside.

The EIA was deemed by the court to be ultra vires, null, and void according to Section 34A(4)(a) of the Environmental Quality Act 1974. The Penang government has since submitted a new EIA for approval.