11 Aug Views of a young fisherman
Published by The Sun Daily • 11/08/2021• 10:25 am
FOR three generations, my family worked as fishermen at Teluk Kumbar, south of Penang island. I would like to share my view about the Penang South Islands (PSI) project as a young fisherman who grew up here.
I am not good in the English language so I have written this letter with the help of my friends because it is pertinent that I share my views with the English readers as well.
I began helping my grandfather at sea when I was 14 years old. We would wake up in the middle of the night to prepare our fishing gear and boat. Often times, we would spend the whole night without sleep at our wooden hut, waiting for favourable water current and weather.
The scariest part in the job was getting caught in a storm in the middle of the sea. We had one such encounter when I was 18. Our boat was bombarded by strong waves that it almost broke into two, and the rain curtain was so thick we could not see the shoreline and were lost. But somehow, we managed to find our way back, with God’s grace.
The experience was traumatising, but we had to continue to go out to sea because we had to eat. That was life as a fisherman. This is one reason why many fishermen want their children to pursue a higher education so they can have better career options. This is why I took a diploma course in electrical engineering. However, having a higher education does not guarantee us jobs when there is no opportunity.
After my graduation, I continued to go out to sea with my grandfather.
As a fisherman, I did not have a stable income and I could not commit to an insurance scheme or purchase a motorcycle. I did not even have Socso and EPF contributions.
The turning point came when my grandfather urged me to apply for a job in the Penang South Islands (PSI) project after he learned that the state government would be developing three islands at Teluk Kumbar. I applied and was offered a position in the stakeholder engagement department.
I am now 23 and have been working in the PSI project for more than a year. The job has provided me with a stable income and I have all the staff benefits such as insurance coverage, Socso, and EPF savings. With payslips, I can purchase a motorcycle through monthly instalments. I had none of these before.
After seeing the progress in my life, my peers who grew up with me at Teluk Kumbar are now seeking employment in PSI too.
However, there are not many openings currently as the reclamation work has not started and the government is still waiting for approval from the Department of Environment for the environmental management plan.
The delay of the approval could be due to a small group of fishermen who are trying to stop the project. These fishermen are opposing the project because they want to keep the PSI area for their children to fish. No one knows the real motive of these fishermen for opposing the project.
My family of three generations of fishermen have no issues with the PSI project. My grandfather himself had urged me to work for the project, seeing that there was more prospect and job security for me.
He is now 66 years old. After being a fisherman all his life, he can see that the PSI project will bring development to the area and generate jobs for his children and grandchildren, and other fishermen’s children and grandchildren at Teluk Kumbar.
He believes that with more career options, the community will not need to continue risking their lives at sea. Besides, there are many other fishing grounds in the southern sea area for fishermen to fish in.
Nur Adam Anuar