BALIK PULAU, Aug 26 – Datuk Seri Najib Razak said the federal government will not support the proposed Penang South reclamation project involving 4,500 acres in the southern part of the island by the state’s Pakatan Harapan government if it affects the livelihood of the people.
“The 4,500-acre (1,800-hectare) land reclamation project to be implemented by the state government, I think that such a project must meet the requirements, I do not want the federal government’s stand to be misunderstood solely on political motives or grounds.
“We reject a proposal by the state government not because the state government is from the opposition party, this is not our stand. For instance, the decentralisation of many development projects being brought to the state even though Penang is under the leadership of the opposition,” he said at a gathering organised by Balik Pulau Umno Division in Balik Pulau Polytechnic here today.
Najib said among the key criteria that must be taken into account before a development project was approved was that it must not have a huge impact and loss to the local community, environmentally friendly and sustainable as well as save public expenditure.
“In the case of this (land reclamation) project, 1,500 fishermen will be affected. Any project that throws sand into people’s rice bowls will not be allowed. Fishermen, don’t worry, if it does not benefit the people, the federal government will not support the land reclamation project,” he said.
The state government had previously announced the implementation of the 1,800-hectare project in Permatang Damar Laut here valued at RM46 billion to build three artificial islands for development purposes. Meanwhile in an another development, Najib said the Barisan Nasional (BN) was confident of retaining Balik Pulau, including the three state seats in the Parliamentary constituency in the coming general election.
“I am confident that the people of Balik Pulau already know how to vote and use their power when the time comes. At the federal level, we also know that we must read the hearts of the people in selecting the candidates in tandem with their heart pulse,” he added.
Earlier, Balik Pulau Umno division chief and Deputy Health Minister Dr Hilmi Yahaya mentioned the Penang South Reclamation project in his speech at the event. He said the 1,500 fishermen against the project were present at the event, organised by his Umno division. The federal government has given the fishermen RM4.5 million in living allowance. — PN