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Without Penang South Islands, do I still have a future here? — Jan Tan Yen Ping

Without Penang South Islands, do I still have a future here? — Jan Tan Yen Ping

Published by Malay Mail • 26/07/2021• 02:42pm

JULY 26 — My father, the breadwinner in the family, passed away when I was ten years old. If not for the few benefactors who have extended their generosity to me and my mom, I couldn’t even go to school.


Since young, I have learned that life is hard but that should not stop us from striving. I studied very hard and managed to get into a good school.


I worked as a clerk at a tuition centre when I was in Form 5 and 6 to pay for daily expenses so that I can continue to study, sit for STPM and enrol into a university, hoping to have a better future.


After graduating from Universiti Sains Malaysia, I managed to get a job as quantity surveyor in Kuala Lumpur. It was very common for young graduates to seek employment there, more opportunities there than in Penang.


That meant I had to leave my widowed mom alone in Penang.


Although it was difficult for me and my mom, but we knew that that was the path I needed to take to build my career.


As a fresh graduate, I worked very hard to prove my ability, hoping that once I have gained more working experience and saved enough, I could go back to be with my mom in Penang and settle with a job there.


The opportunity came when Penang State Government launched the Penang South Islands (PSI) project. I came back to Penang to do quantity surveying work for the PSI.

An aerial view of Penang during clear skies seen from Komtar in George Town November 13, 2019. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

Right now, the PSI is waiting for its environmental management plan (EMP) to be approved by the Department of Environment. The EMP is a mitigation blueprint that addresses the environmental concerns over the PSI.


My colleagues have worked tirelessly with various technical experts in the field of marine science, conservation biology, environmental engineering, etc over the past five years to ensure that the EMP will enhance the ecosystem while minimising the impact.


However, some are saying that the authority may delay the EMP approval despite all the expertise involved because the project is in Penang, an opposition-led state.


Compared to other states, approval was granted to reclamation projects even though their environmental footprint is larger than PSI’s.


If the PSI does not take off, then I will lose my job here in Penang. It is not easy for young graduates to find work in the current job market.


If the EMP is approved, not only my colleagues and I can continue to work but there’ll be thousands more job opportunities created for others in Penang.


If the project doesn’t continue, then I might need to seek employment in KL again, leaving behind my mom again.


She is now 63 years old and I want to take care of her and spend more time with her.


Do I have a future here in Penang? I really hope that I do.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.

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