May 6, 2008
ABOUT 45 residents staged a peaceful protest recently against the construction of a food court beside the Park Avenue apartments near the Penang Botanic Gardens.
Unfurling a banner that read “We strongly reject hawker stalls in our residential area” at the entrance of the construction site, the residents from Kebun Bungah and Air Terjun feared that the complex would pollute the area.
Some motorists plying the route even honked to show their support.
Park Avenue Residents Committee chairman M. Kunasekaran, 43, said the residents were not consulted when the project was mooted.
Fear of pollution: The residents protesting at the construction site.
He said the complex would alter the character of the state’s precious green lung and that it would attract flies and rats.
“We do not need a food court here. Instead, a playground would be more practical,” he said when met at the site.
State Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID) director Hanapi Mohamad Noor had said that the RM937,000 project, which was due for completion next month, was not illegal as it was approved under the previous state administration.
However, Kebun Bunga assemblyman Jason Ong Khan Lee argued that the project was illegal as there was no approval from the Penang Muni-cipal Council.
When contacted, Pulau Tikus as-semblyman Koay Teng Hai said he would seek advice from Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and council president Datuk Zainal Rahim Seman before deciding on the next course of action.
He added that Lim had given him the green light to do the ‘necessary’ if the project was not carried out in accordance with the law.
“We have not ruled out the possibility of tearing the building down if it is found to be illegal,” he said.
Koay said the council’s planning and building departments had twice questioned DID on the validity of the project.
He said the two departments also issued a stop work order and urged DID to submit the building plans for the project.
“However, the DID refused to comply and insisted the project was legal, claiming that it was appro- ved by the previous state government.
“A contractor at the site told me that work will go on as usual since there was no instruction from DID to halt construction,” he said.