Monday, November 30, 2009

Penang's Foreshore Land Issue : Did the public lose access to a public beach/foreshore?

Did the Penang Pakatan Rakyat government just take away a part of the public beach - and make it private property? Beaches have always been accessible to the public - will it still be here?

By the way, is this declassified minutes available on the Penang State Government website for easy access. Or, is there a need for us to go there and get true 'red-tapes' before we can get access to these declassified minutes? 

Hope that you will also read it, and give me your feedback. My question is whether members of the public have just lost access to the beach... that part of the foreshore?

The declassified minutes on the conversion of PDC Heritage Hotel released on Saturday by Lim Guan Eng administration reveal that the PDC Heritage Hotel site is a foreshore land.

Foreshore is the area that is exposed to the air at low tide and underwater at high tide. For development on coastal zone, a construction setback of 60 m is normally observed. Setback is a guideline to developers on how far to site permanent structures behind the shoreline in order to avoid problems with short-term coastal response and flooding problems during rough weather.

If strictly follow the guidelines from Department of Drainage and Irrigation Circular 1987, no permanent structures should be permitted within this setback zone.Guidelines for the width of the setback zone arise from Department of Drainage and Irrigation Circular 1987, which specifies 60m on the open coast. The 60 m setback create a costal buffer zone that should be remain in public domain. This coastal buffer zone effectively allow public access to the foreshore.

The land of any development site that fail to observe this requirement should be considered as a foreshore land. Or put it in another word, the land of any development site that fall within the 60 m setback from the foreshore line is consider as a foreshore land.

The minutes on the land conversion reveal that the state legal advisers had reminded LGE that the site is a foreshore land that under the National Land Code proviso, it can not be converted from leasehold to freehold status. In converting the land, Lim Guan Eng has referred to section 76(aa)(iii) of the NLC which says land could be converted “where the State Authority is satisfied that there are special circumstances which render it appropriate to do so” . What is the special circumstances that LGE referred to in justifying the land conversion?

The special circumstances that Lim Guan Eng has cited for justifying the conversion is as follows:
1) That the project was neglected and in an “abandoned” state.
2) That the equity held by PDC has been raised from 49% to 50%
3) That the cost of equity conversion is borne by YTL Hotels & Properties Sdn Bhd

Lim Guan Eng failed to address public concern over the sell of our foreshore land to private interests.
On Oct 15,2008, in a press statement, Lim Guan Eng has promised that the state government would not follow the footstep of his predecessor in circumventing the National Land Code proviso that prohibit the conversion of foreshore land from leasehold to freehold status. The sad truth is that the Chief Minister who once fought alleged land scams committed by the previous state government, is now personally involved in a questionable land conversion. This is a treacherous betrayal on the people by Lim Guan Eng.

Lim Guan Eng hoped by releasing the minutes on the land conversion, he can divert the attention of the people on the questionable land conversion. As usual he took the opportunity to blame Koh Tzu Koon for the land conversion. If Guan Eng sincerely believe that what Koh Tzu Koon did is wrong, he should not go ahead with the land conversion. This is probably the most disturbing incident came after Lim Guan Eng openly promised not to cheat Penangites of their foreshore lands. Disturbing because Lim Guan Eng love to continue what Koh Tzu Koon did, but will blame the later when being criticized for whatever decision he made.

It is important for Penangites to understand why he made the decision that he's made, Lim Guan Eng should walk Penangites through the reasoning why that decision was made. The special circumstances that Guan Eng has referred to is hardly special at all.
Interesting exercise of the freedom of assembly and expression - but alas, news reports do not mention clearly in detail what exactly were they trying to say - OR maybe, they just came to chant slogans and burn posters (nothing wrong with this...), and were just unhappy with the State government over its handling of the issues mentioned in the quote below. What is the substance of their exercise of freedom of assembly and expression? Did they want to express their concerns in greater depth to the Chief Minister?

The protesters also carried banners and placards condemning the state government for failing to resolve issues such as Kampung Buah Pala, Mak Mandin Rumah Hijau and the controversial conversion of a foreshore land status.

Did the protestors want to meet Lim Guan Eng, the Chief Minister? Did they want to hand over a protest note? And did Lim Guan Eng meet up with the protesters and listen to them? Or did he like the BN Ministers, leaders or government department heads just ignore them or maybe 'peeped' from some window? I hope he met with the protesters to listen to their concerns...The Malaysiakini report does not indicate that he met with the protesters - it looks as if he stayed inside, and tried to divert matters like complaining that they were 'aggressive'...and that they tried to destroy some anti-ISA billboard, etc. I sincerely hope that Pakatan Government leaders respond differently and not emulate the bad examples and practices of BN.

Protest staged outside Penang state assembly
Athi Shankar
Nov 30, 09
A group of state Barisan Nasional youth leaders and supporters staged a protest outside the Penang legislative assembly this afternoon against the Pakatan Rakyat state government.

NONEThe protesters vented their frustration against what they described as an "inefficient and indecisive" state government which failed to resolve the people's problems and fulfill pre-election promises.

Led by Penang Umno Youth chief Norman Zahalan, the protest started at 12.15pm and ended about 45 minutes later.

It took place while the assembly sitting was going on.

The protesters also carried banners and placards condemning the state government for failing to resolve issues such as Kampung Buah Pala, Mak Mandin Rumah Hijau and the controversial conversion of a foreshore land status.

NONEAn unidentified protester had stomped and torched a poster of Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.

Penang Gerakan Youth chief Oh Tong Keong later clarified that the protester was not a BN Youth member.

"I tried to stop him but the situation became uncontrollable," he told Malaysiakini.

"We condemn the act of torching the poster. If you have any grievances, you should express it in peaceful way," he added.

CM questions police's 'tolerance'

Meanwhile, Lim who witnessed the demonstration when the assembly rested for lunch questioned the police's 'tolerance'.

NONE"I hope the police would exercise the same tolerance towards other demonstrations," he told reporters.

The chief minister said the Pakatan government was not against people exercising their right to express their disapproval against his administration. However, he alleged that the protesters were aggressive.

"I heard that some of them attempted to break down the anti-ISA billboard erected outside the House. It's an act of political gangsterism," he said.

Also present at the protest was Penang MIC Youth chief J Dhinagaran and his PPP counterpart M Manikumar.

NONEAlthough no one was detained, Norman however, had his statement recorded at the nearby Lebuh Pantai police station.

He later told reporters that the protest was held on behalf of Penangites to condemn the incompetency of the state government in resolving many contentious issues in the state in the past 20 months.

"The state government is keen in politicking and slandering the previous BN administration with lies. It's a demonstration of public dissatisfaction against the Pakatan government.

"It (the state government) is inefficient, incompetent and lacks the experience and maturity to run the state," he said.

Dhinagaran said if the state government leaders felt that they lacked experience and political conviction to administer, then they should resign en bloc and pave way for fresh polls.

NONEThe Pakatan state government was also urged to administer the state instead of always blaming the previous administration.

The chief minister's political secretary Ng Wei Aik claimed that he was verbally abused with foul language by the noisy protestors.

"I told them to show some respect to the on-going assembly sitting and refrain from using vulgar words. But I was verbally abused in return," he said.- Malaysiakini, 30/11/2009,
Protest staged outside Penang state assembly
The Malaysiakini reporter also spend too much time on side matters like the burning of LGE's posters, not reporting in depth the reasons for their unhappiness about the Penang State government's handling of the Kampung Buah Pala, Mak Mandin Rumah Hijau and the controversial conversion of a foreshore land status - but not what they wanted now to be done about that. Or was the protesters call only for the resignations and new elections?


amoker said...

Charles, i have to disagree with you. The article you have obtained is written for MI by what turned out to be probably another Gerakan Chap. U can check MI for this history where the writer's 'facts' were corrected.

I am also quite interested on how MIC still harps on KBP when they talked big but did not do anything.

Let LGE publish the minutes of the meeting. U won't get this in any Barisan states where people can demonstrate and ask for the minutes.

The Truth About Kampung Buah Pala said...

Charles - the protestors had words even your father or mother would have slapped them. They were unruly and typical mob best described as typical gangsters that BN is famous for. hand over what memo? They were probably paid to the job. Typical and theGerakan played along

Gayathry said...

Charls, I was at the DUN Penang on Monday and saw the BN youths staging the protest without a clear message: except for "LGE is a liar (referring to the question about the status of the land), LGE go back to Melaka and keep ISA for peace".
They also tried to violently bring down the No to ISA billboard across the road (which would have damaged cars just parked nearby and hurt motorcylists).
They damaged the DUN fence btw. The group was around for about an hour, no arrests (which is fine!) and the police took their sweet time (pls do the same for the other protests) but I think apart from just directing anger at the Chief Minister, there wasn't much. No memo or letters were handed over, no clear message.
One resident of Kg. Buah Pala had come earlier and handed a memo to GE at the DUN grounds.
So what was the protest about? Unclear but it certainly grabbed the headlines.

Killer said...


You should be ashamed yourself for making this statement here for as the head of CIJ you had been consistently and loudly been calling for the freedom of expression and the freedom of assembly. I find your comments as shocking and highly hypocritical.

I happened to be in the Little India area for lunch and was caught in the traffic jam. I watched the demo for about 15 mins before going off.

Compared to many other demos by Pakatan people, this was very mild one indeed. These people were just shouting slogans and putting out banners. I would hardly call them as rowdy or violent. I didn't see them removing the anti-ISA banner but I would hardly think that would damage cars nearby.

I also did see the police presence including the FRU as well.

If this is the selective justice that NGOs like CIJ is fighting for then, it indeed augurs very poorly for the country. They might as well drop the pretense and join Pakatan for full-time politicking.

We want PR as an alternative to BN and not another BN with different name.