Penang must take responsibility for Tg Bungah tragedy

 |Oct 24, 2017
– Bernama pic

WHAT do you call a government that can never make mistakes? One that is almost perfect? I don’t know but the only words that come to mind are “pretentious”, “dishonest” and “defensive”!

So many things have been happening in Penang and mind you they’re not exactly good things. But each time something bad happens, the state government blames everyone but themselves.

Take a look at the Oct 21 landslide that killed 11 innocent people for example. The state government has merely described it as a “work place accident” instead of looking deeper for answers.

That’s it! Workplace accident. Accidents happen, right? But accidents can also be prevented right?

It could have been prevented if only the state authorities had taken the input by the Department of Environment (DOE) seriously and not let the majority of other technical departments cloud their judgement.

The Penang state government has been promoting the “Cleaner, Greener and Safer” Penang slogan since coming into power but where is the point in that if it does not even heed input by the DOE?

It has been reported that the DOE had not supported the Lembah Permai project for reasons such as it being close to a quarry but the state government through the Penang Island Municipal Council (MBPP) justified this by saying that there have been two other projects approved previously even without the support by the DOE. How does this make sense? Two wrongs does not make one right.

According to Penang Mayor Datuk Patahiyah Ismail, the nearby Tunku Abdul Rahman College was given a green light for construction by the DOE in 2008.

She told a press conference that besides TARC, two other developments much closer to the blasting site of the quarry were also given the nod by DOE in 2008.

So based on that, MBPP (then MPPP) One Stop Committee (OSC) in 2015 ignored DOE’s objection in granting approval for Planning Approval to Taman Sri Bunga SB in 2015.

That leaves us all to ponder over this: Should old approvals be used as precedent or as basis for new approvals?

If so, what is the use then to refer to technical agencies for future projects? Just rely on predecents!

Another question then arises: Does one approval fit all applications within the same Mukim or Section?

Why does MBPP seem to suggest this as being the Standard Operating Procedure?

In fact, a Penang state assemblyman has also described the whole incident as déjà vu.

“It is déjà vu because the Penang Mayor diverted the blame to the DOE saying DOE had approved the project based on two different projects in 2008 even though DOE clearly did not do so in 2015.

“Déjà vu because during the Sg Lembu incident, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and his exco made similar press statements to deflect the blame to DOE saying there was no harm to the environment based on the May 6 2016 meeting when clearly the DOE had written about the DOE violation to MPSP,” said the assemblyman.

All in all, it will take some time before the state inquiry and police investigations can show who the culprits are. So until then, how many more lives will be robbed?