Call for Penang gov't to right the wrong over Sg Ara Hillslope Project

GEORGE TOWN (July 24): The Local Government Bureau of Penang Gerakan today urged the state government to right the wrong on the planning permission approval for the hillslope project in Sg Ara.

Its chairman, Teh Leong Meng, said the state government and Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng should take immediate action to solve the issue and relieve Sg Ara residents of what he claimed was further suffering.

The residents of Sg Ara have set a precedent by being the first to challenge the Penang government's decision in the Appeals Board hearing on July 18.

Teh said the residents suffered because they have to collect money for legal expenses to fight the case through the Appeals Board, and had to constantly worry about the legal cost in a long-drawn legal battle, as well as the safety issue. Teh told reporters today the state government should not let the residents gamble with their lives as the project is on the hill behind their homes.

"Who is going to be responsible for their safety in the long run? Can the state government or the chief minister give a guarantee that there would not be another Highland Towers tragedy?" he asked.

(The Highland Towers refers to three blocks of apartments in Hulu Klang, Selangor, one of which collapsed on Dec 11, 1993, killing 48 people.) Teh said the chief minister should exercise his powers as the chairman of the State Planning Committee (SPC) and instruct the Municipal Council of Penang Island (MPPP) to revoke and withdraw the planning permission approval given to the developer of the hillslope project in Sg Ara.

"Since the chief minister said that the state government has not approved any development on contours higher than 76 metres, that means the SPC has not approved the planning permission.

"Therefore, the approval given by the MPPP is null and void," he said. The Sg Ara hillslope project is one of 19 hillslope developments higher than 76 metres and with the slope exceeding 25 degrees that have been approved by the MPPP. — Bernama

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