Tanjung Bunga: Good for developers, depressing for residents

This was outgoing Tanjung Bunga Residents Association chairman Renji Sathiah’s farewell address at the annual general meeting of the Tanjung Bunga Residents Association on 25 February 2017:

Penang and Tanjung Bunga continue to be threatened with unrestrained and unplanned development. More and more high-rise high-density projects have been and are being built in Tanjung Bunga and Batu Feringghi, greatly increasing traffic flows through our neighbourhood to and from the city.

Density in Penang, once 30 units per acre, was increased to 87 a few years ago and will be increased by the authorities to 128 units per acre, quadrupling what it used to be. A 65-storey building will replace the Copthorne Hotel, dwarfing its already giant neighbours at the Cove and One Tanjung.

The recently conducted survey of the Penang Structure Plan raises fresh concerns. The whole concept of primary and secondary corridors is under review and likely to be dropped. Instead there is the new concept of “optimisation” of the available land in Penang.

There are many flaws and contradictions in this hastily put together and belated review, but the fundamental message is a good one for developers and a depressing one for people concerned about their quality of life and the environment. The TBRA has sent in its comments on the review to the planning authorities.

Threat to hills

The hills, a key heritage of Penang, are in great danger. There is more construction of high-rise buildings on sensitive hill slopes, some of which are clearly illegal.

Our fellow residents’ association in Sungai Ara won a landmark appeal against one such development last year but now must contend with another. Similarly, the residents in Paya Terubong have appealed a hill development project which is currently being heard by the appeals board.

From the air and from the drive into Penang on the bridge, one can clearly see the horrific damage done to our beautiful hills. Here in Tanjung Bunga, we have the Alilla 2 construction precariously situated on a sensitive hillside, believed to be illegal and other worrying developments in Chee Seng Gardens.

There is the issue of the paired roads that are already under construction. It is not clear how these roads to the northeast and south of Tanjung Bunga will connect with each other. The idea is to improve traffic flows to and from Batu Feringghi and the city, but we can only see more blockages resulting from this.

Worse, the northeastern road will cut through forested areas, endangering the little there is left of Tanjung Bunga’s green areas and the flora and fauna there.

The TBRA is affiliated to the Penang Forum and supports its efforts to take up all these issues with the authorities. Together with the Penang Forum, we have set up the Residents Associations of Penang, now with 12 member associations, to support one another. Residents associations are a key element in the struggle to promote and protect peoples’ concerns.

Last year we supported the efforts of a group of residents in Tanjung Bunga to push for the disconnection and dismantling of two telecommunications towers at schools in Tan Jit Seng and Lembah Permai. This well organised group finally succeeded after many years of frustration to get the state ExCo to act. It was most satisfying to be there with them when YB Chow informed them of the decision.

Sore Thumb: Public park, not marina

The TBRA committee has been anxious to prevent a marina being built in Tanjung Bunga and was very keen to revive the idea of the Sore Thumb being made into a public park. The lack of public open spaces is a major issue in Penang and Tanjung Bunga is no exception.

Encouragingly, the chief minister had agreed in December that we can put up a project for the park and the plans for this should be ready by early next month for presentation to him. The concept is for a self-sustainable park that will promote environmental awareness, highlighting water conservation, energy conservation, recycling, fauna and flora etc and catering for children, youth, and adults.

There will be a special walkaway around the Sore Thumb with stunning sea views and “pit stops” which will highlight the subjects that I mentioned. There will be a football field and even an outdoor auditorium. If realised, we will have something special for Tanjung Bungah and for Penang to enjoy.

With development happening so fast, with all the accompanying issues of environmental damage, traffic congestion and public concerns being ignored, it is important that we stand together as a community and do what we can to preserve the Tanjung Bunga that we love.

The TBRA is the official body through which this can be done and we need your support to be effective. Help us broaden our membership and consider joining the committee to show your commitment to saving Tanjung Bunga. We have supported other RAs when they have had their issues but here, in our own community, support has sadly been lacking.

Finally, do check out our Facebook page, our WhatsApp group “Saving Tanjung Bunga” and our blog. Your feedback using these media will be much appreciated.

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