Design engineers at fault in landslide tragedy, act against negligent engineers


Design engineers at fault in landslide tragedy | The Star Online
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GEORGE TOWN: The State Commission of Inquiry (SCI) tasked with investigating the Tanjung Bungah landslide in October 2017 has found the design engineer of the slope primarily responsible for the incident that claimed 11 lives.

The SCI, in its 116-page report made public, has recommended that the engineer be investigated by the police under Section 304A of the Penal Code for gross negligence.

Besides the engineer, the commission found another design engineer responsible for being “contributorily negligent” for allowing excavation to be carried out without design, engineering calculations and supervision.

Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the commission found that the slope failure was a man-made tragedy and entirely preventable if those in charge had taken necessary and proper steps to ensure the stability of the slope and the safety of the workers.

“The landslide did not develop overnight, it was a disaster waiting to happen over a period of time.

“There were ample warnings which were sadly unheeded or inadequately heeded,” Chow said of the report at a press conference at his office in Komtar here yesterday.

Chow said the report, dated July 22 this year, was a result of public hearings conducted over 26 days with testimonies from 28 witnesses.

“The commission also considered voluminous documents, reports, photographs and drawings, as well as the opinions of six expert witnesses.

“The report provides further analysis of the background facts, excerpts of testimonies recorded during the hearings and findings on liability against several parties,” he said.

The commission also found the Occupational Safety and Health Department negligent for failing to take adequate steps to ascertain the extent of the danger posed by the unsafe slope, by not promptly issuing a prohibition notice after its visit to the site on Aug 18, 2017, which was two months before the fatal incident.

Chow said copies of the report would be sent to the police, Attorney General’s Chambers, Board of Engineers Malaysia and other authorities involved.

“The report also contains nine recommendations that the commission hopes will serve as guidelines and prevent such incidents from recurring,” he added.

On Oct 21, 2017, a temporary slope in the construction site of a high-rise apartment block in Tanjung Bungah collapsed while workers were trying to stabilise it. Tonnes of earth crumbled, killing 11 workers.

The full SCI report can be bought at Level Three, Komtar, for RM50 per copy between Sept 3 and 30. For more details, call 04-650 5480.- Source link

Chow: Agencies have to act against negligent engineers

Penang chief minister Chow Kon Yeow

GEORGE TOWN: It is up to the relevant agencies to take action against the consultant engineers who were found negligent, resulting in the Tanjung Bungah landslide tragedy, says Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow.

“It is up to the agencies and the police to take action as recommended by the State Commission of Inquiry (SCI).

“I have also directed the Town and Country Planning Department, Penang Island City Council, Seberang Prai Municipal Council and other related agencies to come up with recommendations to improve hill development.

“It was discussed at the State Planning Committee meeting and I have directed state housing, town and country planning and local government committee chairman Jagdeep Singh Deo to head the committee and come up with the recommendations within a month, ” said Chow at Komtar here yesterday.

It was reported that the SCI tasked with investigating the Tanjung Bungah landslide in October 2017 had found the design engineer of the slope primarily responsible for the incident that claimed 11 lives.

The SCI, in its 116-page report made public, had recommended that the engineer be investigated by the police under Section 304A of the Penal Code for gross negligence.

Besides the engineer, the commission found another design engineer responsible for being “contributorily negligent” for allowing excavation to be carried out without design, engineering calculations and supervision.

Penang Island City Council engineering director A. Rajendran, who was also present at the press conference, said the stop-work order on the project was lifted after the developer completed mitigation works.“However, different engineers have been overseeing the project since work resumed some time ago, ” said Rajendran.

On Oct 21,2017, a temporary slope at the construction site of a high-rise apartment block in Tanjung Bungah collapsed while workers were trying to stabilise it.

Tonnes of earth crumbled, killing 11 workers. – Source link

Read  more:

 

Tanjung Bungah landslide incident entirely preventable, concludes …

Act against engineers for negligence, urges Tanjung Bungah …

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Penang commission moots criminal charges against consultant …

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E-cig & vape devices targeting teens


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Some of the latest e-cig and vape devices are cheap, as small as your thumb and can even be worn as a watch. Tobacco control experts say awareness among parents and teachers are crucial in keeping this new addiction out of schools. 

LET’S be clear – e-cigs and vape (ECV) are electronic drug delivery devices that can be used with the likes of meth and marijuana, warns Universiti Malaya Centre of Addiction Sciences (UMCAS) chief coordinator and the varsity’s Nicotine Addiction Research & Collaboration Group (NARCC) coordinator, Assoc Prof Dr Amer Siddiq Amer Nordin.

The smoking cessation specialist says there’s a chance that students using ECV will be exposed to other drugs.

“And it’s likely they’ll face the same problems – like poor grades – as students who smoke.”

Dr Amer Siddiq was commenting on findings published in the July edition of the Journal of Criminal Justice.

‘It’s all the rage! Exploring the nuances in the link between vaping and adolescent delinquency’ suggests that there may be something “criminogenic about vaping among adolescents”. But the strength of the relationship between vaping and delinquency depends on what is being vaped, with marijuana vaping being most heavily correlated with delinquency.

Dr Nur Amani@Natasha Ahmad Tajuddin, the lead of the NARCC smoking prevention programme in schools, says when the use of ECV is related to crimes like theft, violence, fighting, bullying, and running away from home, more effort is needed to curb the habit.

“Parents must realise that ECV has negative health, mental, economic and academic impact on youths.”

Young at risk.

Four years ago, ECV use among students was less than 3% because the devices were too pricey for most teenagers, Assoc Prof Dr Anne Yee notes..

According to the Tobacco and E-cigarette Survey among Malaysian Adolescents 2016 (Tecma), a whopping 36.9% of students start on the devices between the ages of 14 and 15, and now, we’re seeing a spike in teenage use..

Easily passed-off as a smart watch, thumb drive or pen, the eye-catching devices look like the latest fashion accessories, says the addiction psychiatry expert and UMCAS member..

“Sellers are going all out to push the product to teens by making it cheaper and more accessible..

“Many even give it free to attract young customers. Drug pushers use the same tactic to get people hooked so that they keep coming back.”.

These days, huge, eye-catching banners adorn night markets with traders openly displaying their wares. Clearly, the colourful e-liquid bottles with fancy names were designed for kids, teenagers and women, she says. These are groups that may never smoke yet we’re turning them into ECV users..

“If sellers are targeting adult smokers who want to quit, they wouldn’t need gimmicks. Why make such fancy designs?”.

Dr Nur Amani says a recent study reported that 22% of children aged between 11 and 15 in England, use ECV compared to 18% who start smoking..

“This is because ECV ads are appealing. Here we have celebrities promoting ECV on social media to entice kids.”.

Dr Amer Siddiq says more needs to be done to prevent a new generation of nicotine addicts from emerging..

“ECV isn’t safe. The devices could burn and the e-liquids could be adulterated.”.

While studies have shown that children and adolescents see ECV as cool, pleasurable and fun to use, Dr Nur Amani says there’s a pattern of kids from lower socio-economic income groups being targeted by unscrupulous sellers..

Getting the girls.

National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) secretary-general Harry Tan says teachers nationwide are noticing a rise in ECV use among girls..

“This is scary because with cigarettes, it was mostly just the boys. But these devices are popular among both boys and girls.”.

Dr Yee is worried because nicotine is being touted as a way to lose weight. It’s like what drug pushers tell women about meth..

As it is, more young girls are experimenting with e-cigs as compared to cigarettes..

Cute cartoon packaging and fruity flavours are aimed at female non-smokers.

Society still has a negative perception of women who smoke. But with ECV, the message is that even ‘‘good girls’’ use it because it’s fashionable and can help you lose weight, adds Dr Yee.

In December last year, The Star highlighted how ECV and e-liquids were promoted as weight management aids.

“Even e-liquids that claim to be nicotine-free contain the drug. And you’ll never know for sure how much nicotine is inside. It could be equal to 20 cigarettes.

“A nicotine high lasts for less than two hours before the craving starts. So getting youngsters hooked on ECV is a business tactic, ” explains Dr Yee.

If your kids are turning to cigarettes, ECV or drugs, it could be because they’re bored or have no one to turn to, she says, adding that children who feel a sense of belonging in the family don’t need these harmful distractions.


Easily addicted

Dr Yee says teenagers are much more susceptible to addiction compared to adults. Some even start to have nicotine cravings after just one try.

“The teenage brain has yet to mature. That’s why adolescents are more impulsive, emotional and susceptible to advertisements aimed at influencing their behaviour.”

Parents whose children are already smoking aren’t helping by getting them an ECV. While it’s better than a tobacco cigarette, ECV is harmful for non-smokers.

When inhaled, tiny chemical particles in the e-liquids can enter the bloodstream and cause long-term harm.

Those between the ages of 10 and 18, adds Dr Nur Amani, are especially vulnerable to addiction.

The medical doctor says e-liquids contain toxic materials like lead, arsenic, manganese and chromium. Exposure to even small amounts can worsen symptoms of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).

ECV use among varsity students is also worrying, says Dr Amer Siddiq, who was among the researches behind The use of e-cigarettes among university students in Malaysia journal paper published in December.

The study, funded by the Education Ministry, involved 1, 302 students in six Malaysian varsities.

“Over 40% of students smoke and use ECV. This means that ECV has not helped them quit smoking, ” he says, adding that some users even experienced adverse effects like dizziness, coughs and headaches.

Anti-vape campaign

The Education Ministry recently announced that it would intensify awareness campaigns after claims of ECV being freely distributed among students, and photos of youths vaping, went viral.

Calling on parents and society to stop students from bringing the devices to schools, the ministry’s director-general Datuk Dr Amin Senin notes that ECV has become the norm these days – becoming more sophisticated and difficult to distinguish from other electronic gadgets.

Welcoming the ministry’s move, Dr Nur Amani feels it’s important to get tobacco cessation experts onboard to work with teachers.

More awareness campaigns need to be conducted by health scientists, educationists, politicians and non-governmental organisations, to show that ECV use is not “normal behaviour”.

Group activities, instead of talks, work better to impart knowledge. And, it’s more sustainable.

“The children themselves can then act as ‘peer experts’. The impact is greater when the message is shared by those of the same age group.”

Campaigns can be effective if we target parents and teachers, says Dr Yee.

With children and adolescents, the more you say no, the more they will want to try it, she says, adding that parents shouldn’t over-react if they find their child smoking, using ECV or taking drugs.

“It’s not the end of the world. Be an ally to your children instead of acting like the police.”

She suggests talking to children about the dangers out there instead of sweeping things under the carpet.

“Make them realise that sellers only want to make money by getting youths hooked on an addictive habit whether it’s nicotine or drugs.”

The Health and Education Ministries are already working together on the Kotak (Kesihatan Oral Tanpa Asap Rokok) programme to highlight the harms of cigarettes and its related products, says Dr Amer Siddiq.

But with the introduction of newer ECV models, there’s a need to raise awareness among the adults

Citing some pod-and-USB-like devices as examples, he says these have very high nicotine content but most parents and teachers don’t know about them.

Recently, children were mimicking vaping because of what they see on social media, Dr Amer Siddiq says in reference to the crackdown on Ghost Smoke – a candy consumed by sucking on a straw to produce a vapour-like effect.

“The Kotak programme must be enhanced to cover ECV and its dangers especially the impact on young developing brains.”

NUTP’s Tan says most teachers are in a cocoon when it comes to ECV.

“We need to expose teachers to this new threat so that they know what to look out for.

“And teachers must be given more authority. Since we cannot cane and are vulnerable to lawsuits, we want legislation that compels parents of problematic students to come to school and be responsible for their kids’ behaviour.”

UM, says Dr Nur Amani, has been conducting educational and advocacy programmes in schools through its No-Cotine Club and Community and Sustainability Centre (UMCARES).

Trained students go to colleges and schools to carry out activities that de-normalise smoking and vaping, she says.

“Soon we’ll be approaching 80 partner schools to tell our children that EVC is not just ‘evaporated water’.

“The effects are harmful and it’s haram for Muslims. Hopefully when they go home, they’ll share the message with their parents.”

Smoking and IR 4.0

ECV will be among the hot topics at the upcoming KL Nicotine Addiction International Conference (KLNAC) 2020, says its organising chairman Dr Amer Siddiq.

As the country moves towards realising the National Strategic Plan to make Malaysia smoke-free by 2045, it’s crucial to look at all forms of technology that can prevent the uptake of cigarettes, he says.

“We’ve decided on the theme ‘Mission IR 4.0: Redesign Tobacco Control’ because of the emergence of various disruptive technologies that can either assist quitting, prevent youths from starting the habit, or attract people to smoking.

“ECV was initially touted as a way to help smokers quit but we’ve seen how Juul has ended up enticing youths to take it up instead.”

UM, he says, is already using data and technology in its tobacco control efforts.

The varsity’s dental group is working on an app for school children to prevent initiation to smoking.

And, Dr Yee is collecting data to match smokers with cessation apps that are right for them.

“We’ve thousands of smoking cessation apps yet the success rate is only 25%. Each app caters to specific personalities so we’re trying to match smokers with apps that cater to their preferences. This will ensure a higher success rate.”

By CHRISTINA CHIN – Source link

Teens the target for vape products


Cause for concern: Subbarow showing the smart watch vape gadget at the CAP office in Jalan Masjid Negeri, Penang.

GEORGE TOWN: Vape products in all shapes and sizes have been flooding the market, including those targeting schoolchildren.

Besides vape pens and chocolates, the latest is the vape smart watch.

The gadget, which has a strap and detachable watch, is being sold openly in shops for RM132 each.

“These watches can cost less than RM130 and some students are using pooled money to buy and share them.

“They also pay RM50 for a 30ml bottle of liquid nicotine, ” said Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) education officer N.V. Subbarow.

He said recently, teachers in two schools in the state seized vape gadgets from students, showing a disturbing trend of students vaping.

“They look like regular smart watches and teachers may not easily identify them. The liquid is poured into the detachable watch face unit, and the vaping device is shared among the students.

“One can easily lay their hands on the China-made product as they seem to be used by schoolchildren. This could lead to serious health issues.

“The government may have banned cigarettes in schools or public places, but the law still allows e-cigarettes. Sadly, many unscrupulous traders are promoting these products as gifts, ” he said in an interview.

Subbarow also claimed that a preschool teacher confiscated a “cigarette pad” from a five-year-old recently.

“When you roll each page torn off from the small note pad, it looks like a cigarette. This seems to be a plaything among the children.

“There is like a pattern now where smoking is being promoted at an early age, which would have disastrous effects on a growing child. There are no laws stopping profiteering from these gadgets, ” he said.

Subbarow added that students often got away with vaping, compared to smoking cigarettes because they come in many flavours and are water-based, without emanating much smoke or smell.

“The fruity flavours of apple, orange or strawberry cause the vapers to have fresh breath, making it difficult for teachers and parents to know if their children are vaping, ” he said.

When met, two 16-year-olds from a school in Jelutong, who were vaping near the CAP office at Jalan Masjid Negeri, said they bought an e-cigarette for RM100 and liquid nicotine for RM50 and that they smoked outside the school.

One of them said he had borrowed money from another friend and it was nothing new as many peers in his school have e-cigarettes.He said they would also meet after school for vaping sessions.

Subbarow cautioned that thousands have died from lung infections and other diseases due to smoking, which is higher than those who were killed in accidents.

“Our checks in about eight schools showed that the situation is critical. Prompt action must be taken to address the issue, including amending the laws to ban vaping in public places.

“The anti-vape campaign started five years ago when vaping was a hot issue but it soon fizzled out as the Health Ministry did not follow through, ” he said.

“It’s time for drastic action or we’ll lose an entire generation, who will end up becoming vaping addicts.”

By R. SEKARANSource link
Read more

 

E-cig and vape traders ‘using students as agents’


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Penang’s LRT project gets conditional approval from Transport Minister


GEORGE TOWN: Waves of excitement swept through Penang when the Transport Minister announced that the Bayan Lepas light rail transit (LRT) has received conditional approval.

It is seen as a move to reduce traffic congestion in the city and create a next wave of growth for the state.

The approved 29.9km Bayan Lepas LRT will bring convenience not only to the local folk but also tourists and investors, said Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers Penang chairman Datuk Dr Ooi Eng Hock.

Ooi, who is positive that the project will spur growth on the island, believes the LRT will bring in another wave of development into the state.

“The LRT will divert traffic congestion. It will attract new investments, make life easier for our workforce.

“I believe it will boost the state’s economy with another wave of growth,” he said yesterday.

Following the Transport Ministry’s conditional approval of the project, Ooi added that it is the first step for a change in landscape and behaviour of transport mode in Penang.

Yesterday, the Transport Ministry gave conditional approval to the Bayan Lepas LRT project.

Transport Minister Anthony Loke in a statement said that after a detailed study of the application by Penang Economic Planning Unit (BPEN) to develop the Bayan Lepas LRT project, approval with 30 conditions for the state to comply was given on Tuesday.

Loke said the conditions included a detailed environmental impact assessment (DEIA) approval including traffic, social and heritage assess­ments.

The state must now exhibit documents on the project for three months, and the final go ahead will only be decided after the public responses are evaluated, said Loke.

“I welcome public participation from the people, NGOs and all stakeholders in this public review.

“The relevant documents are to be exhibited in public places including government offices.

“The state government must also upload a copy of these documents on a website for online viewing.

Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow thanked the Federal Govern­ment and said the state is committed to fulfilling all requirements.

“We will wait for the official letter from Transport Ministry to proceed and initiate public viewing of the documents,” he said.

The RM8.4bil Bayan Lepas LRT together with a monorail, cable cars and water taxis, is part of the state government’s RM46bil Penang Trans­port Master Plan (PTMP).

This LRT will begin at Komtar in the northeast corner of the island and head south through Jelutong, Gelugor, Bayan Lepas and Penang Interna­tional Airport, ending at the Penang South Reclamation (PSR) development.

It is expected to provide a fast route to the airport and will traverse densely populated residential, commercial and industrial areas.

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Penang all set to make waves as EIA approved, work of second phase of PSR has begun


Ministry has given the green light to the Penang government for the EIA report on the Penang South Reclamation scheme near Teluk Kumbar. The project will take off early next year.


GEORGE TOWN: The state government has secured approval for the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report of the Penang South Reclamation (PSR) scheme near Teluk Kumbar.

It is learnt that the Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Ministry has given the green light, paving the way for the three man-made islands totalling 1,800ha to take shape off the southern coast of the island.

The report incorporates 23 conditions proposed by the relevant government agencies and non-governmental organisations. It is prepared by project delivery partner SRS Consortium.

Among the key conditions are compensating more than 900 fishermen with low-cost houses in the Bayan Lepas area, planting artificial corals to sustain the marine ecosystem around the islands, and sourcing the sand for the reclamation from legitimate sites.

Sources told The Star that SRS Consortium would start reclaiming the first island measuring 930ha in the first quarter of 2020. It will take about three years to complete the first island. The cost to reclaim is about RM60 per square foot.

SRS Consortium will call for a tender to reclaim the three islands in the third quarter of this year.

Sources said the state government would sell some state land via an open tender exercise, while SRS Consortium will internally generate the seed funds to raise about RM2bil to start the reclamation of the first island.

The reclamation for the second and third island will commence when SRS has raised sufficient funds from the sale of the reclaimed land. For serving as the project delivery partner, SRS Consortium will be paid a 6% fee based on the RM46bil construction cost.

However, the state government is negotiating with SRS to reduce it.

More than RM70bil is expected to be raised from the sale of the three man-made islands, enough to spearhead the state’s economic development for the next 30 years.

About 75% of the three islands are for sale via open tender.

Some RM46bil from the targeted revenue will be used for the construction of the RM9bil light rail transit (LRT) line, the RM9.6bil Pan Island Link 1 (PIL 1), and other supporting infrastructure projects under the Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP).fina

Presently, the price of industrial land on Penang island is around RM70psf-RM200psf, depending on its status as leasehold or freehold land. However, as the industrial lots on the proposed man-made island are freehold land, the pricing is about RM200psf.

When the reclamation of the islands starts in 2020, there could be a 10% appreciation.

On the three islands – Island A (930ha), Island B (445ha) and Island C (323ha) – the plan is to construct a dam and three power plants for the islands and develop industrial, residential properties and state government administrative buildings.

Chow was earlier quoted as saying that Island A is seen as a continuation and expansion of the Bayan Lepas Free Industrial Zone (FIZ) while Island B will be “a playground for city planners and architects to give their best design” with a tram system and green spaces.

Island C is meant for a mixed development project.

Source link 

Read more:

Chow: Work on second phase of PSR has begun – Nation

https://youtu.be/TrfcwvrcG14

The above Video is about Penang South Reclamation (PSR).  We thank Prof. Dato’ Dr Zubir and Puan Zuraini for coming forward to explain the actual situation at Penang south.  Prof. Zubir is an expert on marine science and the former Director of Centre for Marine and Coastal Studies at Universiti Sains Malaysia. He shares about his study at the PSR area and his survey among the fishermen.   Puan Zuraini is the officer at Pusat Perkhidmatan Setempat Nelayan at Penang south. Drawing from her own upbringing as a daughter of fisherman, she shares about her engagement with local fishermen in PSR area who are hoping that the project will provide job opportunities to them and bring development to the rural area.

 

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Parcel rent bills mailing soon


Stratified property owners given till December 31 to settle dues for 2019

Chow (second right) with (from right) Jagdeep Singh, State Land and Mines office director Akmar Omar and State Secretary Datuk Seri Farizan Darus, showing the new bills for the parcel rent in Komtar, Penang.

OWNERS of stratified properties will now have to pay parcel rent directly to their respective district and land offices.

Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the billing for parcel rent, replacing quit rent, would be sent out to all parcel owners next month through their respective management corporations.

“Previously, it was paid by the respective management corporations of stratified properties.

“Since the bills will be sent out late, parcel owners are given until end of this year to pay up although the deadline is usually May 31 each year,” he told a press conference at Komtar on Friday.

Chow said the parcel rent came into effect since January this year.

He said the rates for parcel rent would be based on the size of each unit, while quit rent was based on the total plot of land which the building was built on.

“Parcel owners will need to update their addresses with the respective district and land offices when paying their parcel rent this year,” he said, adding that the parcel rent billing for next year will be sent to their addresses.

Citing an example, Chow said the total quit rent collected from a specific stratified property last year was RM28,268.

“The collection in parcel rent for the same property will be lesser at RM24,239, as it will not take into account common areas, unlike for quit rent,” he said.

State housing, town, country plan­­ning and local government committee chairman Jagdeep Singh Deo, who was also present, said the arrears for quit rent has amounted to RM65mil to date.

Parcel owners are advised to update their mailing addresses at the land and district office or online at etanah.penang.gov.my

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Landslide tragedy caused by slope instability, was a Construction mishap, not landslide!


Earth patch: Workers covering the landslide area with canvas to prevent more soil erosion in Tanjung Bungah.

Construction mishap, not landslide

GEORGETOWN: The incident that claimed four lives at a beach resort in Tanjung Bungah was a construction mishap, said Penang Island City Council (MBPP) mayor Yew Tung Seang (pic)

He said that the slope was unstable due to digging activities as the resort’s owner was building a retaining wall without informing the authorities.

“It’s not a landslide. The incident occurred after the retaining wall collapsed within the resort’s premises.

“We need to be informed of any construction activity and make sure that it is done under the supervision of engineers.

“We are monitoring the situation closely before making a decision on whether to stop the resort’s operations,” he said at a press conference after the launching of the Karpal Singh Digital Hub at SK Sungai Gelugor yesterday.

On Tuesday, four foreign workers were buried alive in a freak accident at the construction site in Tanjung Bungah.

It is learnt that the resort owner recently contracted a Myanmar worker to build a retaining wall after finding that the hill separating the resort and Jalan Batu Ferringhi showed signs of erosion.

The contractor hired three other Myanmar nationals to assist him.

Checks found that the retaining wall, which was supposed to be about 5m wide, had yet to be built but there were other retaining walls beside it.

State local government commit­tee chairman Jagdeep Singh Deo said mitigation works along the 50m stretch of Jalan Batu Ferringhi would be completed in three to four weeks’ time.

“Although the incident happened on private land, it has affected the federal road where many heavy vehicles pass by every day.

“It is important to stabilise the road to ensure the safety of road users,” he said.

Meanwhile, Citizens Awareness Chant Group adviser Yan Lee called on the MBPP to reveal its standard operating procedures for investigating illegal earthworks done in the state.

“I hope that the council can share with us how many officers or workers are available to check on such earthworks,” he said.

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GEORGE TOWN: Soil movement due to slope instability is said to be the cause of the freak landslide that claimed four lives at a beach resort in Batu Ferringhi, says Penang Public Works Department (PWD) director Shahabuddin Mohd Muhayidin.

He said preliminary investi­gations showed that the slope was unstable as a result of digging by a third party.

“The digging at the slope caused soil movement with a whole lot of earth coming loose.

“Right now, we are taking the necessary steps to stop further soil erosion at the slope.

“After this, we will install sheet piles to stabilise the slope,” he told reporters at a press conference in Komtar yesterday.

Following the landslide, Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow had ordered PWD to conduct a thorough study of Jalan Batu Ferringhi to check on conditions of the road and slopes along the 15km stretch.

“If the study finds any of the slopes or roads unsafe, repair works will be carried out following recommendations from the study.

“For now, a 50m-stretch of the road leading to Teluk Bahang has been closed for mitigation work and to ensure the safety of road users.

“The mitigation work is expected to be complete within three to four weeks, and in the meantime, a flagman will be assigned at the road stretch to direct the one-way traffic,” said Chow at the press conference.

He said the state had no information on the status of the Myanmar workers who died in the incident.

“Relevant authorities will need to investigate the landowner and project owner so that appropriate action can be taken.

Chow said they have called on the police and government agencies like the Department of Occupational Safety and Health to investigate the and take action against those responsible.

“From monitoring at the site, we believe the works to build the retaining wall were carried out without professional help.

“It was just action taken by the landowner who wanted to fix a condition on the site. And, due to the way the work was carried out, it caused soil movement and eventually the soil collapsed.”

He said PWD and the Penang Island City Council (MBPP) would continue monitoring the issue.

“In this incident, the landowner should be responsible as he or she is responsible for monitoring the land.

“Although the landowner tried to take the initiative to build the wall, professional help should have been sought to ensure safer and more secure work.”

MBPP mayor Datuk Yew Tung Seang said the council would serve notices to the landowner and other parties concerned under Section 70A of the Street, Drainage and Building Act 1974.

“MBPP is investigating, and will take appropriate action against the parties involved.

“Although we have a team monitoring illegal construction, the construction work on this particular site was not visible to public view.”

Yew advised landowners to apply for permits before embarking on any construction work in future.

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Experts: Human error could have led to landslide

GEORGE TOWN: A landslide which occurred even when there was no rain to trigger it might have been due to many reasons, including human error, says an expert.

Universiti Sains Malaysia geotechnical engineering professor Prof Dr Fauziah Ahmad said the workers may have dug at the toe of the slope while trying to build a retaining wall.

“During the digging process, pressure might have been released from the top of the wall, which could already have had cracks.

Prof Fauziah said traffic vibrations could also trigger pressure and cracks on the wall.

“Once there are cracks, water will seep through over a period of time, and when it reaches the instability between backfill and the wall, the slope will collapse,” she added.

Prof Fauziah was asked to comment on the incident on Tuesday where four foreign workers were buried alive in a landslide at a construction site in Batu Ferringhi.

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia Centre of Tropical Geoengineering director Prof Dr Edy Tonnizam Mohamad said the stability of a slope, among others, depends on its soil properties, slope geometry, volume, effect of gravity and also the pore water pressure.

“A slope could fail if one or a combination of factors passed its equilibrium and factor of safety.

“If the geometry of a slope is not properly designed according to geologic, engineering and climatic factors, a slope failure could occur.

“There have been several cases of landslides even when there was no rain,” he said.

Prof Edy added that to prevent such incidents, monitoring and inspection before and during construction is important.

“Professional supervision is also needed at the construction site.

“During construction, the standard operating procedure should be made clear.

“The construction site should be managed properly and safety procedures adhered to,” he said.

‘Owner built walls on his own’

Earth patch: Workers covering the landslide area with canvas to prevent more soil erosion in Tanjung Bungah. — MUSTAFA AHMAD & ANDY LO/The Star
Earth patch: Workers covering the landslide area with canvas to prevent more soil erosion in Tanjung Bungah. — MUSTAFA AHMAD & ANDY LO/The Star

GEORGE TOWN: The owner of a resort along Jalan Batu Ferringhi may have been building walls on his own to prevent soil erosion for some time before a landslide struck, killing four foreign workers.

Penang Works, Utilities and Flood Mitigation Committee chairman Zairil Khir Johari said there were signs of such efforts but the authori­ties had never been informed.

“It appears to me like he had been doing it on his own, without informing the authorities,” he said.

Attempts to contact the resort owner for comments were futile as of press time.

On Tuesday, four foreign workers were buried alive in a freak landslide at a construction site in Batu Ferringhi at 9.21pm.

George Town OCPD Asst Comm Che Zaimani Che Awang said all four bodies had been recovered.

He added that three of the victims were discovered in a standing position while holding the metal poles for the retention wall while the other was leaning over.

He said the victims did not have any identification papers.

It is learnt that the resort owner had recently contracted a Myanmar worker called Ong to build a retaining wall after finding that the hill separating the resort and Jalan Batu Ferringhi showed signs of erosion.Ong then hired three other Myanmar nationals, to assist him.Checks found that the retaining wall, which was to be about five metres wide, had yet to be built but there were other retaining walls beside it.

The exposed slope has been covered with tarpaulin sheets to prevent further erosion.

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Trade war spurs 1,360% investment jump in Malaysian state of Penang


The Malaysian state of Penang is winning from global investors’ search for safe havens, amid the U.S.-China trade tensions.

Foreign direct investments into its manufacturing sector surged 1,360% to 8.47 billion ringgit (US$2 billion) in the first quarter from a year ago, more than for the entire 2018. The state stands to gain from changes in the global supply chain as it’s well-connected with a strong talent pool and supportive public policies, Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said in a Wednesday statement.

The state, already home to companies from Intel Corp. to Dell Technologies Inc., makes up 42% of Malaysia’s manufacturing FDI. Recent investments in Penang include U.S. semiconductor company Micron Technology Inc’s new solid-state drive assembly and testing centre, and Florida-based Jabil Circuit Inc’s purchase of 20 acres of land to expand its facility.

“Malaysia is reaping benefits from business relocation, as well as trade and investment diversions caused by the trade war,” Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said in a Thursday statement, adding that the rise in investments as well as industrial production signal “healthy” economic growth in the second quarter.

Chow is wary of the near-term outlook and cautions that the investment surge may not be repeated in the second or third quarters. While some companies benefit from the trade war, others are negatively affected as their customers take a wait-and-see approach, he said. Penang’s investment outlook remains “on the right track” over the medium to long term, Chow said.

The state had moved quickly to court investors amid the trade war, signing a cooperation deal with China Chamber of International Commerce, giving subsidized rental rates for small businesses and setting up a seed fund for technology start ups.- Bloomberg

Penang bags big jump in investments 

More than RM8bil recorded in the first quarter of the year

Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow and State Tourism Development, Arts, Culture and Heritage Committee chairman Yeoh Soon Hin speaking during a press conference at KOMTAR. - LIM BENG TATT/The Star
Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow and State Tourism Development, Arts, Culture and Heritage Committee chairman Yeoh Soon Hin speaking during a press conference at KOMTAR. – LIM BENG
TATT/The Star

THE state recorded RM8.85bil in total approved manufacturing investments in the first quarter of 2019, exceeding the RM5.78bil it received for the whole of last year.

Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the investments in the first quarter were 768% higher than the investments in the same period in 2018.

“Penang garnered 41 projects at the start of this year,” he said at a press conference held at his office in Komtar.

“They amount to RM8.85bil and will bring in more than 10,000 jobs.

“The state is a key contributor to the country’s foreign direct manufacturing investment (FDI), representing 42% of the country’s total FDI.”

Chow highlighted the many attractions of Penang for investors.

“We boast a robust supply chain, strong talent pool, well-established infrastructure and support services to investors.

‘The combination of all these advantages makes Penang a preferred destination for investments.”

He was quoting the latest data from the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (Mida).

However, Chow was more cautious about the business climate later this year.

He said that while Penang could remain a preferred investment destination in the mid to long run, the US-China trade war would have a huge impact in the coming two quarters of the year.

“We believe the meeting between Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping later this month will be crucial.

“We feel our stellar performance in the first quarter might not be repeated in the second and third quarters of this year.

“Nevertheless, Penang’s investment outlook is on the right track over the medium to long term.

“The state government will continue to focus on bringing in high quality investments that can create high-value jobs and suit the state’s industry profile,” he said.

Penang’s approved manufacturing investments rise more than seven-fold in 1Q19

Penang attracted approved investments worth RM8.8 billion in the manufacturing sector in the first quarter (1Q) of 2019, up 763% from RM1.02 billion in the same period last year.

Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said despite the intensifying trade and technology disputes between the United States and China that created uncertainties in the global trade and economic outlook, Penang remained a favoured investment destination.

“According to the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA), from January to March this year, Penang successfully garnered 41 projects amounting to RM8.85 billion, which represented 35% of Malaysia’s total approved investments in manufacturing,” he told a press conference here today.

The approved manufacturing investments in 1Q19 had already surpassed the full-year approved investment figure of RM5.8 billion in 2018, he said, adding that they were expected to create 10,073 job opportunities in Penang.

Of the total investments approved in the quarter under review, foreign direct investment accounted for RM8.47 billion while the rest was domestic investment, Chow said.

“The optimal combination of robust supply chain, strong talent pool, well-established infrastructure and the state’s support services to investors makes Penang a preferred destination for investments,” he said.

However, Chow, who is also the chairman of the Penang Strategic Investment Advisory Council, said while Penang could be a preferred investment destination in the middle to long run, he was cautiously optimistic on the near-term outlook due to the latest trade war development.

He said there was a truce in the trade war in 1Q but the situation had worsened since.

“US President Donald Trump has threatened to slap tariffs on another US$300 billion of Chinese exports to the US, and the meeting between Trump and China’s leader Xi Jinping later this month is crucial,” he said.

He also cautioned that the superb investment performance in the manufacturing sector in 1Q might not be repeated in the second and third quarters; however, Penang’s investment outlook would be on the right track over the medium to longer term.

“Through InvestPenang, the Penang government will continue to focus on bringing in high quality investments that would create high value jobs and suit the state’s industry profile,” he said.- The Edge Market.
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