personal capacity: I wish to comment on the press statement by Jagdeep
Singh Deo as reported in Berita Daily and many other newspapers on 24
GEORGE TOWN: Some 20 houses located on a slope in Hong Seng Estate in Mount Erskine were flooded due to blocked underground drainage.
“Not again!” was the reaction of factory worker S. Kalaiselvi, 42, who found herself neck-deep in water at her house at 2am yesterday after a three-hour downpour.
She waded through the water to higher ground with her parents, who are in their 60s.
“I have been living here for 26 years and only now am I seeing such floods,” said Kalaiselvi, who also had to move out when her house was hit by the massive floods on Nov 4 and 5 last year.
Her father Subramanian Perumal, 68, said he was still waiting for the relevant authorities to resolve the problem.
At the site, firemen had to install a water pump to draw out the rainwater, which flooded most of the units to waist level at one point.
It was the third time that the area was flooded since October last year.
Last Oct 30, blocked underground drainage caused floodings affecting six houses during an evening downpour, followed by massive floods during the Nov 4 and 5 storm.
On Sept 29 last year, seven houses in the estate were also affected by soil erosion.
Consultant engineer Datuk Lim Kok Khong had said the soil erosion was due to water seeping under the ground.
Kebun Bunga assemblyman Cheah Kah Peng, who has been barred from helping out with the registration of flood victims for the one-off RM700 aid given by the Penang government, was also there but offered no concrete solution to the floods in the area.
Pulau Tikus assemblyman Yap Soo Huey said nine houses had to be demolished to make way for repair works.
She said they had offered owners of the nine affected houses a low medium-cost unit each as compensation, but the residents insisted on staying put.
Earlier, Penang Flood Mitigation Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said the latest floods were caused by the continuous downpour that began on Thursday evening.
“The rain also coincided with a 2.34mm high tide at 2.30am yesterday,” he said.
Chow said the short-term measures to deal with the floods were to dig and deepen the rivers, and carry out upgrading and cleaning works at riverbanks to ensure that there were no blockages.
In Bukit Mertajam, a low wall sealing off the entrance to a lorry driver’s house prevented it from being submerged in floodwaters all over again.
While the water on the road outside was up to knee level, Heng Kai Chin’s home remained relatively dry, thanks to the metre-high barrier of cement and bricks.
But Heng, 43, still skipped work yesterday to keep an eye on the flooding.
A state flood report said water had entered at least 100 homes in Bukit Mertajam.
Source: The Staronline
|Wet day: Students wading through floodwaters at SMK Mak Mandin in
Butterworth, Penang. (Left) Motorists braving through the waters on the
flyover at Sungai Nibong, Bayan Lepas. — MUSTAFA AHMAD/The Star and
Behind BJ Cove houses at Lintang Bukit
Jambul 1 is an IJM Trehaus Project. Approximate Coordinates :
Turning a blind eye: The grumblings over exposed hills are growing louder but little is being done to rectify the situation
MY family home in Kampung Melayu, Air Itam in Penang, is more than 56 years old. That’s about my age, and it has never been hit by floods. Not once!
But last week, my parents – dad is 92 years old and mum, 86, – had their sleep rudely interrupted sometime after 1am by water gushing into their home.
They have been sleeping on the ground floor for years now because they are too old to climb the stairs to their bedroom.
The water that flowed into their room almost touched the top of their bed but fortunately, one of my nephews and his wife from Kuala Lumpur were staying over that night.
It was so fortunate that they were there to calm my anxious parents down and assure them all would be fine. They managed to comfort my stunned folks, who had never experienced such an unpleasant situation before. My father had to be carried to the room upstairs as the house remained flooded throughout the early morning.
Our home was filled with layers of mud the next day and the cars parked outside were all damaged. They sadly look like write-offs.
My father’s pride and joy, his first-generation Proton Saga car – which he bought in 1985 – is now unusable.
A week on, my brothers and nieces are still cleaning up the mess from the massive flood. They haven’t had the time or mood to even assess the financial losses.
And bound by a common sentiment as Penangites, they are tired of the blame game, a trade the state’s politicians have plied to near-perfection.
How many times can the finger be pointed at the previous government, with the incumbent almost 10 years in power? And how many more times can we blame it on torrential rain, which came from Vietnam – or wherever? Worst of all is, when discussions are mooted on flood issues, the voices of the people are swiftly silenced.
It appears that even to talk about hillslope development, one would have to contest in the elections, or be perceived to be challenging the state government, or more extremely, be some kind of lackey in cahoots with the Federal Government.
Blaming everyone else except oneself is simply a way of covering up one’s weaknesses. But the discerning public, in a maturing democracy with heightened transparency and a huge middle class like Penang, will not tolerate such short-term manoeuvring for long.
Suddenly, civil society – a buzzword among politicians – has vanished, with NGOs now regarded as irritants and an affront to the state establishment. Politics is apparently the monopoly of politicians now.
As the National Human Rights Society aptly puts it, “With the benefit of hindsight, we are sure that the Penang government now realises that they should not so readily malign civil society, howsoever obliquely – for the legitimate and well-founded articulation of matters of great concern to civil society.
“This is because it undermines the fundamental values of a functioning democracy and the fundamental human rights of the populace at large.”
Perhaps, the state political elites, many of whom aren’t pure blood Penangites, don’t realise the state is the home of a vibrant civil society, with many active NGOs and activists who are respected influencers of society.
Having walked through the corridors of power and appreciated power’s pleasures, perks and the adulation it brings, maybe it is becoming much harder for people to take criticism. This is, in fact, a reflection of the arrogance of power.
Many have developed thin skin now, with little tolerance for the slightest form of criticism. If anyone even dares raise their voice, an army of cybertroopers, hiding behind anonymity, are unleashed to attack them.
Freedom of speech, it seems, is only the domain of the opposition, with some media (regarded as unfriendly) unceremoniously ridiculed and questioned for their attendance at press conferences.
There are politicians from the Federal Government, too, who are shamelessly cashing in on the flood situation in Penang.
Their relief work must be splashed across news pages, and they have to be seen wading through the flood waters for dramatic purpose. Phua Chu Kang’s iconic yellow boots could likely be the hottest item in the state, as politicians bask in the media’s glare.
Ridiculous remarks have also been passed, one even blaming the state government, saying it has earned the wrath of God.
The rain and floods will go away, eventually. Penangites are stakeholders in the state, and they don’t only make up politicians. The state doesn’t belong to the state government or the opposition.
Caught up in the thick of the action, we seem to have forgotten that the hills are crumbling even without rain. As a stern reminder, just last month, a landslide buried some people in Tanjung Bungah. Investigations on that tragedy are still ongoing.
Basically, the trees – which act as sponge on the hills – are gone. We don’t need to be soil experts to know that.
The grumblings are growing louder because the hills have been progressively going bald in recent years. But the voice of discontent has fallen on deaf ears.
Penangites are alarmed at what they are seeing, and they don’t like it one bit, as much as they understand that land is scarce on the island and property developers need to source some to build homes on.
While it’s easy to hang the Penang state government out to dry for its follies, it’s difficult to ignore how the floods in the east coast states have become annual affairs, too. So, what effective flood mitigation plans have been put in place there?
Kelantan has suffered senselessly, and after more than a year of having been subjected to Mother Nature’s havoc, many victims have yet to recover from their losses. Flooding is obviously nothing exclusive and doesn’t discriminate. Every state has, unfortunately, experienced it in some shape or form.
So, irrespective of location, when life returns to normal, you can expect the politicians to resume their old denying ways.
If there’s a thread that binds our politicians – regardless of which side of the political divide they come from – it is their inability to apologise for their mistakes, despite waxing lyrical about accountability.
Don’t expect them to say sorry, because an apology would be admission of guilt, or worse, a sign of weakness in their realm of inflated egos.
And to put things into perspective, perhaps we could learn a lesson from a quote by prominent American pastor Andy Stanley – “Leaders who don’t listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say.”
On the beat Wong Chun Wai
Wong Chun Wai began his career as a journalist in Penang, and has served The Star for over 27 years in various capacities and roles. He is now the group’s managing director/chief executive officer and formerly the group chief editor.
On The Beat made its debut on Feb 23 1997 and Chun Wai has penned the column weekly without a break, except for the occasional press holiday when the paper was not published. In May 2011, a compilation of selected articles of On The Beat was published as a book and launched in conjunction with his 50th birthday. Chun Wai also comments on current issues in The Star.
Behind BJ Cove houses at Lintang Bukit Jambul 1 is an IJM Trehaus Project.
https://youtu.be/QB45Q2_mOG0 Suspicious activity: A photo taken from Penang social activist Anil Netto’s blog showing an active s..
Choong (in white) surveying the deforested hillslope next to Majestic Heights. PENANG MCA has raised concerns about the safety of the r..
AFTER two Category 5 hurricanes (Harvey and Irma) hit the US in October, followed by Maria hitting Puerto Rico, no one can deny that natural disasters are devastating.
With three hurricanes costing an estimated US$385bil, with less than half insured, the poor are suffering the most because they cannot afford to rebuild as the rich.
This year alone, monsoon floods in Bangladesh, India and Nepal have left millions homeless. This year will therefore break all records as Munich Re-insurance data suggests that 2016 natural disaster losses were only US$175bil, already 28.6% higher than the 30 years (1986-2015) annual average of US$126bil.
But how much of these natural disasters are man-made?
Despite US President Trump being sceptical of climate change, the US Global Change Research Program Climate Science Report published this month concludes that “it is extremely likely that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases, are the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century”.
Carbon dioxide concentration already exceed 400 parts per million, last occurred about 3 million years ago, when both global average temperature and sea level were significantly higher than today. Roughly one third of carbon emission is due to residential heating/cooling, one third for transport and one third for industrial production.
Human activities on Mother Earth include over-consumption of natural resources, cutting down forests, polluting waters and excessive cultivation/development that caused desertification or soil erosion. You see this from warmer surface and oceanic temperatures; melting glaciers; diminishing snow cover; shrinking sea ice; rising sea levels; ocean acidification; and declining tree and fish stock.
Oceans warming up
Hurricanes are caused by oceans warming up, building energy and vapour levels that create freak typhoons, tornados and massive downpours. At the same time, droughts are also occurring with more frequency for longer.
Scientists estimate that global average sea level has risen by about 7-8 inches since 1900, with almost half that rise occurring since 1993. Everyday, we hear new extreme events, such as unusually heavy rainfall, heatwaves, large forest fires, floods or landslides.
Climate warming is most observable in the water-stressed Middle East and the North Africa/Sahel region, where rapid population growth created desertification, food shortages, civil conflicts and ultimately, outward migration towards cooler climates, especially Europe. This hot region accounts for 60% of global war casualties since 2000, with 10 million outward refugees. About 90% of the world’s refugees and asylum seekers come from four regions with half under the age of 18 years.
A 2016 World Bank report estimated that these water-stressed countries’ GDP could be reduced by up to 6%, with dire consequences on stability. Without water, industries cannot function, food cannot be cultivated and health can deteriorate due to disease from water-shortage and drought.
European estimates suggest that each refugee costs roughly US$11,600 per person to maintain and there are already one million trying to enter Europe last year. The OECD has classified countries such as Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen as extreme fragile.
The world is already reaching a critical turning point. If the Paris Climate Accord can be implemented, with or without the United States, there is some chance of averting further global warming.
But closer home, we are already witnessing the effects of climate change on our daily lives.
In 1972, Hong Kong experienced a devastating landslide near Po Shan Road in Mid-Levels, which caused 67 deaths and collapse of two buildings. One cause was unstable ground following heavy rainfall from Typhoon Rose eleven months prior to the incident.
This tragedy in densely populated Hong Kong resulted in rigorous slope protection and inspection of drains to ensure that these slips do not occur again. I lived near Po Shan Road and admired how Hong Kong engineers regularly inspected the slope protection measures and that the drains were always clear.
In 1993, the collapse of Highland Towers in Kuala Lumpur was partly attributed to the clearing of the hilltop above Highland Towers, which led to soil erosion and the weakening of the foundations. By the time the residents detected cracks in the buildings, it was already too late. Some of my personal friends were among the 48 persons who were killed in that collapse.
Last weekend, Penang (where I live) had the worst rainstorm and floods because we were hit by the tail end of strong winds from Typhoon Damrey, one of the strongest to hit Vietnam in 16 years, leaving 61 people dead. Driving along Penang Bridge, I can see that the continued hilltop developments in Penang are leaving soiled scars on the previously pristine landscape, I am reminded of Highland Towers and Po Shan incidents. Natural disasters are acts of god, but the size of their impact on human lives are completely within our control.
Soil erosion does not happen overnight, and require responsible developers and conscientious governments, as well as concerned citizens, to be continually vigilant that maintenance of roads and drains, including soil inspections, are serious business with serious consequences.
Modern technology can provide drones and inbuilt sensors that can detect whether erosion is reaching critical levels. Regular maintenance of drains and checks on stability of the soil, especially where there has been recent clearing of trees in steep slopes, will forewarn us all of impending accidents.
As cities are building more and more on hillsides subject to torrential rain, Penang should seek technical expertise from Hong Kong which has extensive expertise on the maintenance of steep hill slopes that are subject to typhoons and sudden rainfall.
Landslides are today used more in political terms than in real terms. The next time landslides happen, residents who watch daily the erosion of their natural environment will know who is really looking after their interests.
Becoming bald: A view of the clearing work seen at Bukit Relau which was visible from the Penang Bridge in November last year. GEORGE
Seeking solutions: Penang Forum member and soil expert Dr Kam Suan Pheng giving her views during the dialogue sessio
Speaking out: Penang Forum members protesting outside the CAP office in George Town. Don’t just make it about worker safety
https://youtu.be/QB45Q2_mOG0 Suspicious activity: A photo taken from Penang social activist Anil Netto’s blog showing an active
Why did MBPP approve the Tanjung Bungah development project?
Read more at https://www.malaysiakini.com/letters/399357#qbRd534yu1JfC551.99
The never ending torrential rain in Penang over the weekend was an act of God. A natural phenomenon which is a perpetual feature of our equatorial climate. Nobody would wish to have the heavens open up with such vengeance on any state.
Naturally, when the rain intensity is so great, floods will occur. We should always be vigilant during the annual monsoon season.
Flood mitigation starts from the local council and state government. Every council must take into consideration the terrain, rainfall and built up surfaces in their area. While we can always engineer ourselves out of a flood, there is always a cost versus benefit consideration. There are some low-lying areas in a flood plain that will perpetually be flooded when it rains and if we situate developments in those areas, we have to be prepared for such events.
On a small island like Penang, with its hilly terrain, engineering flood mitigation measures must be a long term and all-inclusive plan encompassing all urban growth zones. It will not be cheap, mainly due to the high land cost and the expense incurred to provide adequate storage for the surface runoff.
As the island develops, open permeable spaces will continue to diminish causing higher runoff to flow downstream into the coastal areas. Couple that with tidal phenomenon and the incoming surface runoff will easily overwhelm the drainage system causing a rise in water level.
The question we should all be asking is how do we reduce the incidence of flooding? Unfortunately, especially with our tropical climate, it is quite impossible to entirely eliminate flooding. Anybody that promises that is telling you a blatant lie.
With the right planning and engineering, we can reduce the incidence of flooding and lower the magnitude of the damage caused.
Penang’s terrain bears much similarity to Hong Kong. Being in the path of tropical storms and typhoons from the Pacific Ocean, Hong Kong bears the brunt of some of the regions worst storms. On average, six tropical cyclones slam into Hong Kong every year. While flooding still occurs in Hong Kong, they have managed to reduce the damage it causes.
There are many lessons Penang can learn from Hong Kong.
If DAP still wants to continue to develop the state in a sustainable manner, they must implement special flood mitigation requirements in addition to the ones provided by the JPS Masma manual. If the hills are being cleared, the increased runoff will tax the existing drainage system. Siltation will occur, evident from the brownish flood waters, as topsoil and sediment from the hills wash down into the coastal plain. These sediments, unless periodically maintained, will clog existing waterways, thus reducing drainage efficiency.
The ultimate problem with highly built up areas is the immense volume of runoff from storms. Sufficient storage areas in the form of retention ponds and green open areas should be provided to retard the flow of water into the rivers.
Due to its terrain and the high-density development on the island, it is expensive to provide adequate stormwater storage within a development.
Catchment areas next to hillslopes also have a large volume of runoff moving at a high velocity. The damaging effect of erosion is quite evident on many of these hill projects. Sometimes water currents are so strong, even paved roads can be ripped apart.
Some of the more innovative solutions for Hong Kong’s flooding problems like the underground stormwater storage system has worked very well over the years together with a comprehensive Drainage Master Plan.
The Drainage Services Department of the Hong Kong SAR constructed massive underground tanks to route surface runoff intercepted from uphill catchments during storms only to slowly release the stormwater into the natural waterways when the storm abates.
The Penang state government has a duty of care to the residents of Penang to ensure that disasters of such proportion should not happen.
Over the past four years, a total of 119 incidences of flooding has been recorded in Penang. Penang is an economic powerhouse and home to some of the world most high-tech electronics producers.
The state government has to provide a safe and secure environment for investor to house their production facilities and assets. Otherwise, multinationals might shun the island because of the cost of protecting and insuring their priceless assets. Productivity would be affected and the cost to remedy the damage.
We will only find out the true financial cost of this disaster over the next few weeks.
For Penang to recover from this tragedy, federal funding is required to repair all the damaged infrastructure within the state.
The very least they can do is to provide a COMPETENT flood mitigation plan for the state starting with a comprehensive Drainage Master Plan Study.
The Penang government has to be ACCOUNTABLE to the people and not private developers. If certain waterways and catchment areas have to be gazetted as permanent drainage and storage areas, then so be it.
The safety and well-being of the Rakyat has to come first. Lastly, in the interest of TRANSPARENCY, Penang has to launch an inquiry into how the local council approved property developments on Class III slopes without adequate slope protection.
The collapse of many retaining structures and slope failures in such risky locations is cause to for concern because as of right now, any dwelling structure located downstream to those development could possibly be the scene for the next Highland Towers.
|Kong Len Wei@konglen wei|
Source: by Kong Len Wei, a Civil engineer and councilor for Majlis Perbandaran Manjung and the Chairman of MCA Youth Perak Young Professional’s Bureau
THE news has been full of the related issues of hill cutting, logging, landslides and floods. The environmental crisis is back in the public consciousness, and we should seize the moment to find solutions and act on them.
Penang has been the epicentre of this upsurge, for good reasons: the mega flash floods and landslides over the weekend and on Sept 15, and the Oct 21 hill slope collapse in Lembah Permai (Tanjung Bungah) which killed 11 employees at a construction site.
Saturday’s overwhelming floods in Penang, which paralysed the island in so many ways and affected lives, property and activities, was a megashock not only to people in the state but throughout the nation.
But it’s not just a Penang phenomenon.
On Oct 30, flash floods caused massive traffic jams in Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya.
Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor said the floods were caused not only by heavy rain but by developers of two projects that had blocked drainage.
A stopwork order will be issued if the developers do not take measures specified by City Hall.
Another threat is the logging of valuable water catchment areas.
The Ulu Muda forest in Kedah, which provides much of the water supply to Kedah, Penang and Perlis, is under such a threat as the originally designated Ulu Muda water catchment area has shrunk by 87% from 98,400ha in 1969 to 12,484ha in 2017.
The forest reserve was the most important water catchment area in the Northern Corridor Economic Region but timber production there was growing because Kedah depended on logging as a source of income, said Penang Water Supply Corporation CEO Datuk Jaseni Maidinsa ( The Star, Oct 27).
He suggested that the federal government compensate Kedah for gazetting and preserving Ulu Muda as a water catchment area, noting that the Muda Dam provided 80% of the daily raw water needs for Kedah.
Jaseni issued this stark warning: when logging affects the Muda Dam’s ability to store sufficient water, all three states would face a water crisis in the next dry season.
In Penang, the debate on the floods and the tragic landslide has continued nonstop and moved last week to the State Assembly.
The clearest explanation of the worsening flood situation that I have heard was the presentation by scientist Dr Kam Suan Pheng at the Penang Forum event on Oct 29.
A former Universiti Sains Malaysia academic who then worked in international agencies including the International Rice Research Institute, Dr Kam said there were seven main causes of floods in Penang:
She provided historical and current data to show that flash floods are happening more frequently and with more adverse effects, even with lower rainfall levels. With higher rainfall expected in future, the situation can be expected to significantly worsen.
Dr Kam focused on expansion of impermeable surface area (caused by ill planned development and replacing natural ground cover such as hills, fields and trees that act as a water absorbing sponge) and soil erosion and landslides (caused by cutting and development in hill areas) as two factors that need special attention.
She quoted Datuk Kam U Tee, the Penang Water Authority general manager (1973~90), as having correctly explained the Penang floods of October 2008, as follows: the floods were caused by conversion of the Paya Terubong and Bayan Baru valleys into “concrete aprons that do not retain water. The water immediately flows into streams causing flash floods even with moderate rainfall. Because of hillcutting activities, the flowing water causes erosion of the slopes which carries mud and silt into the river beds”. ( The Star, Oct 24, 2008).
Flood mitigation and flood prevention are two types of actions to tackle the flood problem, said Dr Kam.
Mitigation measures only tackle the symptoms, are costly and need public (state and federal) funds. These include structural measures (upgrading rivers, installing pumps) and nonstructural measures (drainage masterplan; flood forecasting and warning systems; public education).
Flood prevention should be the priority as that would tackle the root causes, said Dr Kam, who proposed the following actions:
To take these measures, policymakers have to deploy a wide range of policy and legal instruments, and to adopt environmentally sensitive and ecologically friendly structural and nonstructural solutions, concluded Dr Kam.
Another speaker, Datuk Agatha Foo, complemented Dr Kam nicely when she elaborated on the various laws, guidelines and plans that can be used to prevent the wrong kinds of development, to control and monitor approved developments and to strictly enforce the laws.
She also spoke on the loopholes and weaknesses of the laws and how to correct them.
Events of the past few weeks alone indicate that the number of environment related and human-made problems are bound to increase, probably many times, unless our leaders and policymakers give higher priority to the environment and to well planned development.
The paradigm shift should start now, as the alarm bells have already rung.
https://youtu.be/QB45Q2_mOG0 Suspicious activity: A photo taken from Penang social activist Anil Netto’s blog showing an active
(From left) Dr Kam will deliver a talk on ‘Understanding the Causes of Floods and Seeking Solutions. State assemblymen expressing
|Choong (in white) surveying the deforested hillslope next to Majestic Heights.|
PENANG MCA has raised concerns about the safety of the residents in Tingkat Paya Terubong 4, right behind the Majestic Heights flats
Its Bukit Gelugor deputy secretary Marvyy Choong said the deforested hill behind the flats, just a stone’s throw away from Block 1, was a time bomb.
“There are 12 blocks of 23-storey flats in Majestic Heights.
“I understand that many residents have already moved out, leaving only a few more, and we’re worried for their safety.
“The surrounding hills are going bald due to ongoing earthwork and the 12 blocks may all collapse during a landslide,” he told a press conference at the flats yesterday.
|Aishah looking out her window to the hillslope which is just a stone’s throw from her unit|
“We are not opposing the paired road project but we’re against high-rise projects in vulnerable areas that may endanger lives,” he said.
Choong said Jalan Paya Terubong was not safe as trees frequently fall during a downpour.
“It is also unsafe for heavy vehicles and they must be banned from using this road after the paired road is completed.”
Meanwhile, housewife Aishah Che Wan, 68, who is living at another apartment scheme near the same hill, said muddy water gushed down the hill on Saturday and Sunday.
“Some small stones damaged a few cars parked by the side of the road,” she said, adding that she now feared for the safety of her family.
“I hope that whoever is clearing the hill will take necessary safety measures to prevent any mishap,” she said. – Starmetro
Behind BJ Cove houses at Lintang Bukit Jambul 1 is an IJM Trehaus Project. Approximate Coordinates : 5°20’38.47″N,100°16′
Seeking solutions: Penang Forum member and soil expert Dr Kam Suan Pheng giving her views during the dialogue session themed ‘Penang Fl
GEORGE TOWN: Penang has tabled a higher deficit state Budget of RM740.5million for the next fiscal year of 2018. Chief Minister Lim Guan
Becoming bald: A view of the clearing work seen at Bukit Relau which was visible from the Penang Bridge in November last year.
In its report on hill land development tabled on May 19, PAC said the lax monitoring not only resulted in unchecked hill clearing, but landowners were able to build houses, chalets, hotels and restaurants on Penang’s hill range.
“This situation happened because of MBPP’s failure to monitor and patrol hill land after notices were issued to landowners.
“This led to risks of soil erosion, landslides, mudslides, river sedimentation and disruptions to the surroundings,” it stated.
PAC’s report gained public attention after Penanti assemblyman Dr Norlela Ariffin brought it up in a dialogue session held by Penang NGOs and residents associations on flood and landslides on Sunday.
She told 200-odd members of the civil society that the report was tabled in the state assembly but never presented.
PAC stated that according to the state Audit Department, out of 31 illegal hill land clearing cases in 2015, four were in the Teluk Bahang water catchment area.
The committee, chaired by Bagan Dalam assemblyman A. Tanasekharan, visited nine of the cases on March 1.
It highlighted the Bukit Relau hill clearing case 410m above sea level and visible from Penang Bridge.
“Media reports and public comments should have been enough for MBPP and other authorities to take immediate action.
“Mitigation works on Bukit Relau have taken so long to be completed. The local authorities neither monitor the work frequently nor supply regular updates,” it added.
On illegal clearing that took place on Penang Hill, PAC expressed frustration that the actual dates and specific locations of the earthworks could not be determined because of the unsatisfactory records and monitoring.
“On Penang Hill, there was confusion on the existing agricultural plot and the new clearings.
“There are no definitions of allowable hill land agricultural works that involves digging,” it added.
PAC also objected to an earlier suggestion by the state Local Government Committee to exclude hill land earthworks related to agricultural activities from needing work permits.
Source: The Star by Arnold Loh
Seeking solutions: Penang Forum member and soil expert Dr Kam Suan Pheng giving her views during the dialogue session themed ‘Penang Fl..
Speaking out: Penang Forum members protesting outside the CAP office in George Town. Don’t just make it about worker safety issues ..
https://youtu.be/QB45Q2_mOG0 Suspicious activity: A photo taken from Penang social activist Anil Netto’s blog showing an active