Uproar over hillside project

A Penang Municipal (MPPP) councillor has alleged that the state government is trying to influence the municipal council to approve a hillside project in Sungai Ara here.

Councillor Dr Lim Mah Hui, who was present at a protest against the project in his personal capacity, said he was unaware that MPPP had approved the project.

Dr Lim, who is a councillor under the NGO quota, alleged that the project was “approved at the state level”.

“It seems like the state government is dictating to the MPPP what our local government should do,” he said.

The protest was attended by some 200 residents from various housing estates in Desa Ria, Sungai Ara, as well as members of Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM).

SAM council member Mohideen Abdul Kader said the state's development policy should be reviewed.

“Development projects should benefit the majority of the people. Leave the hills alone. Houses are built there for profit. It is not a welfare (housing) project,” he said.

The residents received a notification from the MPPP Planning Department that the project was approved on Feb 21 despite their efforts to raise their concerns with State Town and Country Planning, Housing and Arts Committee chairman Wong Hon Wai and Batu Maung assemblyman Abdul Malik Abul Kassim.

Sunrise Garden Condominum management committee chairman Manuel Nicholas said the project took up 24.28ha of the 32.7ha area, which is about 75% of the hill.

“The massive hill projects were approved by MPPP under the category of projek istimewa (special project). It is just a normal development and we are surprised how such a project can be given special status,” he said.

Abdul Malik said the project was approved because it had met the technical criteria.

He urged the residents to present their case to the MPPP's appeals board.

State Local Government and Traffic Management Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow could not be reached for comment. - By The Star

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