24 May PSR serves the people
Published by New Straits Times• 24/05/2021• 08:47 pm
– NSTP/DANIAL SAAD
LETTERS: We would like to respond to the letter titled “Penang South Reclamation – Who does it serve?” (May 12, 2021) by Penang Forum spokesperson, Khoo Salma Nasution.
The answer to her question is: PSR serves the people. Penang Forum has wrongly painted PSR as a developer’s project because the reclamation of Island A will be carried out through a 30:70 public-private partnership. The arrangement is actually to ensure PSR’s Island A can be implemented without government funding while the State Government exercises full control over the development’s direction.
PSR is a major catalyst for Penang’s long-term development, potentially attracting RM70 billion in investments, based on Bayan Lepas free trade zone’s (FTZ) experience in raking in RM50 billion since 1980. By PSR’s expected completion in 2050, it can potentially generate a GDP of RM100 billion and create over 300,000 jobs, based on an independent study by PricewaterhouseCoopers.
The Island A reclamation’s first three years is expected to generate 15,000 jobs with priority given to Penangites. Island A’s Green Tech Park will create more high-value jobs as the new industrial zone caters for the Industrial Revolution 4.0 and beyond, focusing on automation, Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and the like.
The State also prioritises Penang companies’ participation in the project. Many local companies are currently providing services to PIC and SRS Consortium. More will gain as PSR progresses.
Accusing the State of neglecting Seberang Perai’s development because of PSR is misguided. Nine of Penang’s 10 industrial parks are in Seberang Perai. Although the mainland is an industrial asset to Penang for the next 10 to 20 years, planning for the future has to go beyond that. PSR is a major gamechanger that will cater to high-tech industries in the following decades.
Through PSR, the State is leveraging on Bayan Lepas’ established E & E ecosystem of MNCs and SMEs and the vibrancy of George Town that makes Penang island appealing to many investors. The State has continued to received requests for Bayan Lepas FTZ land from investors. PSR is therefore strategic for its close proximity to FTZ, the Penang airport, and the Second Penang Bridge.
PSR is also a green and socially responsible development. Reclamation is known as an effective technology to address climate change impact among international expert institutions like the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
PSR’s development will strictly heed IPCC reports and the Low Carbon Cities Framework (LCCF). This, along with the fact PSR is a state project subject to regulations and audits, will ensure the project is carried out with high levels of transparency and good governance.
PSR will be designed to protect the reclaimed land from floods and rising sea levels. It will reserve 20% of land for green parks, mangroves, water canals, wetlands, floodplains and bioswales to enhance biodiversity, cooling the environment by one to two degrees Celsius.
PSR’s master planning stresses heavily on reducing carbon emissions by 40 per cent by cutting travel wait time and fuel consumption through smart city features; and providing a greener multi-modal transportation system that uses waterways, rail, electric buses and bicycles. The Green Tech Park will use 100 per cent renewable energy while super low energy (SLE) buildings halve energy use.
PSR’s water recycling sewage plant, rainwater harvesting system and household water-saving devices will lower freshwater demand by 70 per cent. Sustainable waste management will facilitate waste separation and recycling. The development also plans to convert commercial food waste to renewable energy.
Ecology offset initiatives will be implemented to enhance fisheries sustainability by deploying artificial reefs and fish aggregating devices (FADs), planting mangroves, building eco-friendly features along the islands’ perimeter, releasing fish and prawn fry, providing research funds for marine-related studies and others.
The State Government
also plans to support fishermen venturing into aquaculture.
The government’s Social Impact Management Plan (SIMP) will benefit local fishermen and their families through ex-gratia payments; aid in form of boats and engines; the building of four new fishermen jetties; entrepreneur support schemes; business and job opportunities; training and education opportunities for young fishermen and fishermen children; housing initiatives and others.
A third of over 1,600 local fishermen have registered for the SIMP, accepting the development’s benefits for their community. All these initiatives are the State Government’s way of meeting ESG (environment, social, governance) commitments – standards required by big corporations around the world to do business.
Khoo Salma cited several reclamations as “bad examples” to misrepresent the PSR. Her saying Kansai Airport is sinking is a moot point because the whole world is sinking due to rising sea levels, which pushes more countries and cities to reclaim land.
Macau’s 11.6 sq km total land area in 1912 more than doubled to 30.4 sq km in 2015 to meet development needs. Denmark is reclaiming nine islands in the Holmene project – Scandinavia’s largest reclamation in years – to address rising demand for knowledge intensive industry, renewable energy production and flood barrier.
Planning future reclamations to face rising sea levels, Singapore is looking at polders made famous by The Netherlands, where wetlands were drained, land reclaimed and kept dry using canals and pumps for flood prevention, development and agriculture. Other notable reclamations include Russia’s Lugaport Terminal and Brisbane Airport’s new runway.
Khoo Salma said NGOs were “stonewalled”. In truth, they have enjoyed unrestrained freedom to speak their views on PSR in the media, state-organised townhalls, protests and attend the National Physical Planning Council meeting chaired by the Prime Minister in April 2019, which was unprecedented. They were also appointed as city councillors.
Let us move forward. The economy has slowed. Jobs and businesses have been lost. Penangites are looking forward to a development with huge economic spillover that will lift us up. We cannot have economic growth and build a better future for Penang if we cancel PSR and the Penang Transport Master Plan along with it. Our direction is clear.
PENANG INFRASTRUCTURE CORPORATION
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