Suspend Penang Hill cable car project: Where is the public consultation and feedback?

A cable car system - WIKIPEDIA

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Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) reiterates its call to the Penang state authorities, the Department of Environment and the Penang Island City Council not to allow the Penang Hill cable car project to proceed until there has been a full public consultation and feedback on the project, especially from those who will be affected by it.

SAM has received complaints from various quarters about the lack of consultation over the project.

Thus far, the Penang state government has said that all the approvals have been obtained in relation to the environmental impact assessment for the project and planning permission from the local authority for work to commence in June. The Penang government claims all laws have been followed.

However, SAM regrets that none of these approvals have been made through a public consultation and feedback process.

The environment impact assessment for the project was approved without a detailed assessment being done. It was not displayed publicly and no feedback was sought prior to its approval by the director general of environment. This despite the director general having the discretion to seek public feedback. But this was not done at all, depriving the public of a crucial mechanism for public participation and feedback.

No local plan has been drawn up for the areas and residents who will be affected by the ancillary works related to the cable car project, especially at the bottom station in the Botanic Garden and along Jalan Kebun Bunga. The residents living nearby are not in the know about how they will be affected by the work on the cable cars.

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The lack of a local plan for the island for decades now is a major violation of the Town and Country Planning Act 1976. If a local plan had been drawn up, the public, especially those who would be affected by the project, would have been able to give their feedback.

Traffic and social impact assessments for the project are all required prior to the grant of planning permission. None of this has been publicly displayed for public comment and feedback.

Clearly, the public has been kept in the dark about the environmental and social impacts of the project prior to any approvals given.

To approve the cable car project without such public participation and public disclosure is not good governance. This is especially so in the case of a project which is taking place in an environmentally sensitive area, such as Penang Hill and the Penang Botanic Garden.

Transporting 1,000 people per hour via the cable car to the hill is no small matter. Questions abound about the spillover effects and the carrying capacity of this environmentally sensitive ecosystem.

Penang government representatives are quick to point out that SAM was invited to a focus group discussion during the preparation of the social impact assessment but did not attend it.

We had informed the authorities that we could not attend the consultations at the appointed date, but this does not absolve the authorities from making the environmental impact assessment public to seek prior feedback before any approvals are given.

SAM calls on the Penang state authorities, the city council and the relevant state agencies to publicly display the environmental, traffic and social impact assessments for the project and seek public feedback.

READ MORE:  Penang Hill cable cars: Wrong to approve environmental assessment without public participation

A local plan also should be produced for public feedback, without which the cable car project should not proceed.

SAM is baffled by this non-transparency and lack of opportunity for public consultation and feedback.

For the sake of good governance and transparency, the cable car project must not proceed until the public has had an opportunity to view the details of the project and until all the above measures are taken.

Meenakshi Raman is president of Sahabat Alam Malaysia.

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.
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PJ Lim
PJ Lim
20 Apr 2024 6.24pm

All these rubbish associations like SAM CAT, all racist political association. What is their value to the society? Please use brain.

19 Apr 2024 7.01pm

We agree the project must proceed don’t waste the time, can attract more tourist

Alyanee Rayyan
Alyanee Rayyan
19 Apr 2024 9.31am

The same goes for undersea tunnel and others.