GEORGE TOWN (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - As the landslide tragedy takes its toll with three workers killed and 11 others feared dead, DAP state assemblyman Teh Yee Cheu said there are still 10 other development projects pending, but his plea to save the hills has been constantly ignored.
Some of the projects will be near hillsides and more are planned along the coastline. A few are projected to be 50 to 60 storeys high, said the Tanjung Bungah assemblyman.
"I objected to each one. I always use the words Saya membantah sekeras-kerasnya (I strongly object) and some city councillors laughed at me and said the approval authority 'menyokong sepenuh-penuhya' (fully supports).
"Now see what has happened," Teh told The Star.
He was referring to the one-stop centre at the Penang Island City Council (MBPP), which is in charge of approving property development plans on the island.
Teh, who rushed to the scene of the landslide shortly after it happened at about 8.30am on Saturday (Oct 21), did not hide his discontent over the spurt of development projects in his constituency.
"Not all those development applications have been approved yet.
"But after the general election, I expect a mushrooming of approvals," he added.
Tanjung Bungah is one of the few residential areas on the island with a low population density.
The Lembah Permai area, locally called Hillside or Vale of Tempe, is a coveted location for its semi-detached, terraced and bungalow homes.
But in recent years, developers have been submitting plans for high-rises that rival even the height of Komtar, in the area's unoccupied hills and seaside.
Saturday's landslide happened at a construction site near Lorong Lembah Permai 3.
Tens of thousands of tonnes of laterite earth slipped down from a height of about 35m, burying the workers.
Firemen told reporters that the search operation had to be carried out slowly because the slope was unstable.
Teh said he objected to the project's planning permission about two years ago because the original hill slope had a steepness of 30 to 40 degrees.
"I apologise to my voters in Tanjung Bungah. I objected to the construction, but my words were only taken as a personal view by the MBPP and state government.
"I also apologise to the family members of the victims buried by the landslide," he said.
Asked about a stone quarry located some 500m further uphill from where the landslide occurred, Teh said that it was active, with rock blasting going on two to three times a week.
"I am against that too, but it was allowed to continue," he added.