Monday July 9, 2012
CM upset over reports on hill clearing
PETALING JAYA: Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng has accused The Star of tarnishing the state’s “green credentials” by giving prominence to hillside development issues.
Claiming that The Star had declared “open war” against the Pakatan Rakyat-led Penang Government, Lim challenged the daily to demand that developers stop the hillside projects.
He also questioned the timing of the latest “attack” against the Penang Government, which he claimed came on the heels of a sexual misconduct allegation against him.
“Furthermore, why did The Star not highlight hill projects in Barisan Nasional-controlled states and pick only Penang?” he said in a statement.
He also invited The Star group chief editor Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai to an open dialogue with him and the Penang Municipal Council (MPPP) officials on the hill development issue, adding that he “awaited his response”.
Ordering MPPP to declassify all the meeting minutes on the approval of hillside projects above 76.2m, Lim said they had nothing to hide.
Penang, he said, would go bankrupt if the hillside development projects were cancelled as it would have to bear the compensation cost.
In his response, Wong urged Lim to take immediate action to stop the excessive hill development in Penang instead of throwing challenges.
“He has chosen to attack The Star for speaking up on hill development and accusing us of having an agenda. But does he realise that by doing so, he is also saying that many concerned Penangites also have an agenda?
“Surely, the many NGOs and residents associations such as the Con-sumers Association of Penang and the Tanjung Bungah Residents Association are genuinely concerned. This includes Tanjung Bungah DAP assemblyman Teh Yee Cheu who has spoken up strongly over this issue,” he said.
He pointed out that The Star had a track record of highlighting environmental issues, including leading the campaign to save the Endau Rompin forests in the 1980s and the Belum Forest in the 1990s.
He added that it had also recently reported on the excessive export of raw limestone out of Perak in its Nov 6, 2011, issue and the Bukit Kiara destruction on June 21.
“We are continuing the fight to save Bukit Kiara,” he said, adding that other issues included environmental problems in Tioman island, Pahang and Sipadan in Sabah.
“Many of these issues are in Barisan-controlled states and were given front page coverage,” said Wong, advising Lim “to accept criticism like a true gentleman”.
“As an opposition figure, he makes daily criticism against the Federal Government and I am sure he can take criticism that comes from the media,” he said, adding that the right to reply was always given to Lim.
Wong also said the aerial pictures on excessive hill development “spoke a thousand words” and defended the use of the heading “the dying hills”, adding that the Penang Government’s official publication Buletin Mutiara had as much right to use “the hills are alive”.
In The Star’s reports on the hillslope development issue, the daily noted that the previous state government should also be accountable.