Free Malaysia Today of 16th November 2018 reported Penang Chief Minister (Menteri Besar) Y.B. Chow Kon Yeow saying that if Hong Kong had listened to the advice of Penang's pro-environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs), Hong Kong would not be developed as it is today still be backward, and that Penang state would learn nothing if the state government which he leads listens to those NGOs - thus implying that Penang would not develop as fast if it listed to the advice of those NGOs.
Chow also cited that Hong Kong had suffered a landslide back in the 1970s in which resulted in the death of a hundred people but Hong Kong learned from their mistakes and come up with solutions to prevent future landslides.
Chow also referred to the landslide at the construction of the elevated Paya Terubong "paired road", resulting the death and injury of several people.
This recent comes almost a year after the 21 October 2018 landslide at the Granito housing construction site in Tanjung Bungah, which took 11 lives, mostly migrants workers.
I have three questions for The Right Honourable (Y.B.) Chow Kon Yeow.
1. You say that Hong Kong learned from its landslide tragedy in the 1970s, with studies which have developed means to avoid future landslides.
My question then is what has Penang learned from Hong Kong's studies and measures which could have been applied to hill slope development in Penang, taking into consideration similarities and differences between hill slope geology, soil structure, soil stability, rainfall volume, risk from earthquakes and so forth of hills in Penang
and Hong Kong?
2. Are more and more high-rise buildings and construction in Penang, including on its hill slopes your sole measure of "development". What about development of more inventive and innovative industries which produce higher quality, higher value-added products which can bring more revenue to Penang's economy and provide more jobs,
what about more affordable housing for Penang's people, what about quality of life issues for Penang residents?
3. Whose interest are you serving, Y.B. Chow - those of the developers or those of Penang's people?
Free Malaysia Today article follows below:-
Chow: If HK had to take advice of Penang NGOs, it would still be backward
Predeep Nambiar - November 16, 2018 11:38 PM
GEORGE TOWN: Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow (DAP-Padang Kota) today said the state would learn nothing if it took advice from parties urging it to stop all development projects following the recent landslide.
Taking the case of Hong Kong, which had a major landslide in the 1970s which killed nearly a hundred, he said the island learnt from its mistakes and decided to move on to come up with solutions.
Chow said as a result, they have become resilient in matters of hill development and have formed a geotechnical department much envied by others in the world.
He said although the Bukit Kukus incident was regrettable, there is a lesson to be learnt by all and the government is doing all it can to prevent a repeat.
Chow said the state was committed to improving worksite safety and compliance and would commit to taking the Hong Kong path.
"If NGOs like those in Penang were in Hong Kong, asking for development to be stopped over a landslide, Hong Kong would not be as developed as it is today.
"I can imagine them saying 'okay incidents happened, stop everything; state must stop all development projects'.
"The other option is to admit the faults and recognise the need to improve and move on.
"Now you see Hong Kong building on the steepest slopes without much fuss," he said during his winding-up speech at the state assembly today.
Last month, nine workers died in a landslide at a road construction site on a hill slope in Bukit Kukus.
The official cause of the incident is yet to be known pending a state and police investigation. Experts claim proper hill-cutting procedures were not adhered to.
'NGOs plucking figures from sky
Chow also addressed another thorny topic involving Penang's projected population in the next 10 to 20 years in the Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP).
The Penang Forum has claimed the estimates were too high and unrealistic to justify an expensive transport system, such as the Light Rail Transit (LRT).
An expert had reportedly said the population density for the reclaimed islands, at 21,636 people per square km was unrealistic, which was higher than London city centre (11,522 people per square km), Paris (20,909 people per square km) and Hong Kong (17,000 people per square km).
Chow said the population projection by the project delivery partner of the PTMP was based on data from the Statistics Department.
He said official numbers show Penang had a population of 1.7 million last year and this is expected to grow by 25,000 to 30,000, or at a 1.5-2.5% rate each year in coming years.
Chow said by the time the PTMP projects are completed, around 2030, Penang would have "at least 2.3 million people", as revealed by the country's statisticians.
"NGOs sometimes pluck figures from the sky, without referring to official statistics. The PTMP population estimate was based on the number available when the projection was made, which was in 2015.
"Based on population growth data and the current population, by 2030, we will have 2.2 to 2.4 million people.
"So how are we going to cater to that many people? Can the island hold these many people?" he asked, saying this was where the reclaimed islands came into play.
Chow said with the reclaimed islands, Penang will have more space to house its extra population.
"Maybe the NGOs are not responsible for the future 2.4 million Penangites but as the government, we need to take care of the future population.
"The PTMP will spur growth and create jobs from an excellent public transport system and other measures," he said.
PTMP will see a series of highways and transit lines built in the state in the next 20 to 30 years at a cost of RM46 billion.
It would be financed through the creation of three artificial islands on the south of Penang Island, which would later be auctioned off to interested parties. However, the plan has yet to be approved by environmental regulators.
The Penang government is eager to kickstart two of its main projects, the Pan Island Link 1 highway (costing RM8 billion) and the Komtar-Bayan Lepas LRT line (RM8.4 billion).
The state has requested for a soft loan of RM1 billion to kick-start both the projects so they can proceed concurrently, without having to wait for the islands to be reclaimed.