State says no way, as investors scrap RM75b project

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GEORGE TOWN: The Penang government has slammed shut any chance for realisation of the RM75 billion mixed development offshore project in Balik Pulau.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said this decision will not be overwritten even with a federal approval or endorsement from non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

Lim said project consultant Nik Zamri Majid's comments in The Malay Mail today was "shocking" adding, "I hereby state that the project will not even be considered or evaluated even if they (investors) get approval from the federal government or endorsement from the NGOs."

"We wish to emphasise that this so-called project simply does not exist as it has not even been evaluated much less approved," he said in a statement.

Initially, Lim said that the state would only evaluate the 'so-called project' upon the federal government's approval.

"The consultant's comments in The Malay Mail today in saying that the state government intended to divert attention since the general election around the corner, is untrue.

"As such, the state government will not even consider the project even if prior approval or endorsement was obtained," he said.

He added that: "If the consultant is so confident of getting the state's approval, then he can try his luck and sue us for the RM5 million allegedly spent to prepare the EIA or the monies involved in getting federal government approval -- to see if he can get back the amount spent."

Lim said the state was confident that the consultant will not get any returns with no prior commitments or consideration by the state government.

Meanwhile, Nik Zamri said the Malaysian and Hong Kong investors of the project plotted 5.5km off the shores of Kuala Sungai Pinang have decided to scrap their plans and consider moving it to Thailand or Myanmar.

Due to the current mass media attention which gives the developers's reputation a negative effect, he said, my clients have given strict instructions to "forget the project" and look to Thailand and Myanmar.

"I am praying they will reconsider. If this cannot be reversed, it would be a great loss to the state and its population," Nik Zamri said.

In his statement, Nik Zamri said the project was only a proposal to the state and had yet to be approved since Al-Cube Sdn Bhd -- the investing outfit for the companies -- had been advised to conduct an EIA.

"The EIA must be approved by relevant authorities, namely the Department of Environment (DOE) followed by the National Physical Development Council (MPFN) at the federal level.

"The process includes the approval by the State Planning Committee (SPC) which is then brought before MPFN which is also a federal government agency hence the need to submit the 'project brief'," Nik Zamri elaborated.

He said his engagement with various state, federal department and agencies to gather feedback and information enabled him to present the proposal to the state and Putrajaya in a definitive manner.

"Without such engagement, I will be assuming things and in doing so become irresponsible.

"Being a responsible foreign investor, my clients gave me strict instructions to follow procedures and protocol especially in Penang as it is an opposition-controlled state," he said.

Nik Zamri added that in return he advised the investors that for the state to consider the proposal, it was imperative that EIA be done and agreed to spend RM5 million for the study.

"We appointed Prof Datuk Dr Zubir Din to lead the Environmental Team and to pool together world renowned figures in mangroves, fisheries, marine life, hydraulics, current, seabed, seagrass, and bathyimetrics.

"He is a well-known environmentalist who had been involved in many studies for the state government. My clients were willing to adhere to the DOE's very stringent terms.

"Had the EIA been approved, only then we will submit the formal application to the state to consider the proposal as it will bring tremendous benefit to the Penang and her people.

"They would be able to earn billions in foreign exchange such as the breeding of tiger prawns and lobster followed by the diamond cutting and polishing works emulating Surat in India," Nik Zamri said.

The project was to accommodate electronic and electrical industries, oil and gas R&D labs, residential areas, hotels, parks, schools, administration offices, and an artificial beach on three interconnected decks supported by stilts.

Nik had told The Malay Mail on Sunday that the project, which would rake in an investment of RM250 billion in the next 10 years for the state, was planned as such to avoid land reclamation that would affect the environment.

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