29 Sep Penang South Islands’ environmental care and strategic role for the state’s industrial growth beyond 2050
21 SEPTEMBER 2022
Penang South Islands’ environmental care and strategic role for the state’s industrial growth beyond 2050
We refer to the Straits Times article “Penang’s artificial island plan pivots to greener industry, but critics unconvinced” published on 19 September 2022. The writer quoted Dr Lim Mah Hui of Penang Forum, as alleging the Penang South Islands (PSI) project would “destroy the ecosystem by reclamation”.
PSI’s environmental care
All long-term development projects have environmental impact. The Penang State Government has conducted various studies to assess PSI’s environmental impact and has put in place a number of initiatives to mitigate the effects and enhance the ecosystem.
The PSI Ecology Offset Masterplan (PEOM) is already being implemented in stages even before PSI’s reclamation is approved to kick off. Initiatives under the PEOM, among others, are:
- Mangrove planting at locations advised by the Forestry Department
- Deployment of artificial reefs and fish aggregating devices
- Release of fish and prawn fry
- Eco-shoreline construction
- Provision of funds for marine-related research
Since 2016, new marine habitats have been created under PSI’s wetland forest expansion initiative by planting 1,500 mangrove saplings. Another 2,000 saplings were planted through collaborations with non-governmental organisations.
Additional 22,300 mangrove trees have been planned for PSI’s Island A’s mangrove forest stretching 4 kilometres.
The implementation of PEOM initiatives will intensify after the project’s reclamation is approved. During reclamation, mandatory control measures such as the installation of silt curtains to trap sediments and reduce turbidity to prevent pollution will be implemented.
PSI’s environmental impact mitigation, against the backdrop of the present changing climate, is the most extensive compared to other reclamation projects in the country. The Penang State Government is adamant to comply with all the stringent requirements imposed by the Department of Environment.
PSI is also not the first reclamation project in Penang, Malaysia. None of the previous reclamations have destroyed the ecosystem.
Penang mainland lacks industrial land
In the article, Dr Lim also reportedly said Batu Kawan’s second phase could be developed as an ESG (environmental, social, governance)-compliant industrial park without the need to reclaim PSI.
Batu Kawan Industrial Park 2 (BKIP2) in Byram is important for Penang’s industrialisation growth for the next 10 to 20 years, but Penang is making plans for beyond 20 years. In fact, the breakdown of current land use at Seberang Perai (Penang mainland) indicates that there is not much land for long-term industrial growth:
43.5% : Agriculture
14.5% : Housing
7.8% : Transportation
6.6% : Water monitoring
4.8% : Forest
4.6% : Industrial
4.2% : Institutions and community facilities
1.7% : Commercial
1.4% : Public recreation
1% : Infrastructure and utilities
The remaining 10% are mostly private land.
This means Seberang Perai does not have much state land for industrial use even if the state government is looking at expanding industrial land in Bandar Cassia, East Batu Kawan, and Byram.
Private plots need to be acquired from their current owners, which involve complex legal processes, and are not green field development, unlike PSI. They are also exhaustive like the industrial parks in Bayan Lepas, which no longer have vacant plots for new investors, and BKIP1, which has little land left that measure over 10 acres to accommodate investors who need large plots.
PSI’s strategic role in Penang’s long-term growth
PSI’s ESG-compliant Green Tech Park will provide new state-owned land for future industrial growth beyond 2050, enabling Penang to attract new investors and stay competitive in the global high-tech electrical and electronic (E&E) market.
The PSI is strategically placed in close proximity to Penang International Airport, the matured E&E ecosystem surrounding Bayan Lepas Free Industrial Zone, industrial-led talent hub, and connected via the proposed Bayan Lepas LRT – making the project very attractive to investors.
PSI will also provide land for the Bayan Lepas LRT depot. The LRT is a component of the Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP). We would also like to rectify an error in the Straits Time report, which stated the PTMP cost as RM43 billion. The correct cost estimate is RM46 billion, including components for Seberang Perai.
We want to reiterate that the PSI project is crucial for the state’s future economic growth and well-being.