Many housing projects in Penang are beyond the reach of locals, said the Consumers Association of Penang (CAP).
CAP vice-president Mohideen Abdul Kader claimed that the upper class and foreigners were being set as a priority for development projects.
“As foreigners and expatriates are able to afford homes at higher prices, this disrupts the market and raises land prices beyond what is affordable for locals,” Mohideen said yesterday.
Citing the example of the Singapore Housing Development Board, he said Penang’s first priority should be creating good homes for Penangites.
CAP research officer S. Mageswari said the safety of housing projects on hillslopes was not only questionable, but forest clearing was also rampant.
“This not only causes erosion but also flash floods and pollution as sediment flows down to the rivers and seas,” she said, claiming that the threat to marine life was also causing an adverse effect on the traditional fishing villages in Permatang Damar Laut, Bayan Lepas, Gertak Sanggul and other places in the south of the island.
However, the Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association (Rehda) cautioned that property prices in the island would escalate if there was a ban on housing projects on hillslopes.
Such a ban would result in a shortage of supply, said Rehda Penang chairman Datuk Jerry Chan.
He was commenting on a call by two non-governmmental organisations to halt hillslope projects.
On Monday, a group of CAP and Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) members staged a peaceful protest outside the construction site of a hillslope housing project in Bukit Gambier ahead of World Environment Day yesterday.
Chan said it was not true that only foreign investors bought hillslope property as they comprised less than 3% of the buyers in Penang last year.
“It is also not true that all hillslope property development projects are high-end schemes.
“There are quite a number of affordable projects in Paya Terubong, Relau, Batu Maung and Tanjung Bunga,” he said.
Penang Master Builders’ and Building Materials Dealers Association immediate past president Datuk Finn Choong said there were now a variety of new environmentally friendly technologies available to enable development on hillslopes to be carried out safely. - By The Star