By INS Contributors

GEORGETOWN, Malaysia--Gerakan vice-president Baljit Singh slammed the DAP-led Penang state government over its aggressive insistence in pursuing the Penang South Islands Project (PSI) despite widespread opposition to the project.

Baljit, who had contested for the Jelutong parliamentary constituency in the 2018 general elections, also said the disregard by DAP-led state government against the dissenting voices from various quarters including environmental groups and Nurul Izzah (Permatang Pauh-PKR) created the perception that public opinion does not matter.

“After just three terms in power, DAP has made it clear that people - including Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs), consumer associations and environmental groups, can make all the noise they want but it is the party which will decide what happens to Penang.

“In its zealousness of turning Penang into a concrete jungle by developing or reclaiming every available area on and around the island, the party leaders have snubbed their noses at anybody and everybody that questions them. They have made it clear that nothing anybody says will stop them from doing what they intend to do,” he said in a statement.

Baljit added that the manner in which the project is being advocated for by certain quarters raises suspicion in his view and urged the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to look into details surrounding the project's approval.

“The ferocious manner DAP leaders seem to be going against those calling for a relook at PSI is not only disconcerting but also brings into question if there is more than meets the eye concerning this project.

“It is time the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission and other relevant agencies also take a closer look at the PSI project as it is clear something "fishy" is going on here as well,” he said.

Those opposed to the project have pointed to the devastating impact on marine ecology should the project go ahead, calling it an unimaginative manner for the state to raise funds and have described it as an outdated concept.

Prominently, heritage activist Salma Khoo has noted that the project would forever change the character of the island and wipe out the Malay fishing community that will no longer have easy access to the sea, devastating their livelihood.

While environmentalists have been against the project since its inception, a rift seems to be developing between the PKR and DAP chapters of the state.

Nurul Izzah had said that she and party colleagues had initially supported the project but she started to be more apprehensive when the Penang Transport Master Plan was changed to include a mega highway, LRT, monorail, Skycab and involved land reclamation.

Mah Kong Lip, communications director of Bukit Bendera PKR, said DAP had previously rallied strongly against land reclamation and deforestation and has warned the DAP-led state government that it could lose power at the next elections if it pushed the issue.

This led to Penang state executive councilor Zairil Khir Johari of the DAP saying the project was needed now more than ever as it would be a catalyst for the state’s post-Covid-19 economic recovery.

PKR and DAP are both partners in the Pakatan Harapan state government. DAP has eight seats on the state executive council and PKR holds three, including Ahmad Zakiyuddin Abdul Rahman as deputy chief minister.

In the 33-member state assembly, DAP holds 19 seats, PKR 12 and Amanah two. The opposition comprises Perikatan Nasional (5) and Barisan Nasional (2).