Are data on Penang south reclamation project manipulated to deceive?

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AN article in The Star, August 3, claims “200 satellite images confirm little fishing activity at PSI (Penang south islands) site”. 

What is there to support this claim?

The project proponents, with the strong backing of the Penang government, have an agenda – to bulldoze through the Penang south reclamation project.  To do this they have produced a lot of visuals, including videos and animations, to show the beauty and luxury of the place. 

Housing developers also produce a lot of beautiful brochures about their planned projects, which when completed are seldom the same as what was shown.

Since there are strong protests from the local community, including more than 5,000 fishermen, the project proponents need to show that the 1,800ha  reclamation site is not the rich fishing grounds that the fisherfolk say it is.

State executive councillor for Infrastructure and Transport Zairil Khir Johari has even said that the site is nothing more than “shallow, muddy water”.

The “shallow muddy water” is where the best prawns and pomfret are found.

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 Thus, the recent emergence of “satellite images” showing very little fishing activity in the zone is another attempt to pull wool over the eyes of Penang folk.

Are the small inshore fishing boats big enough to be detected by the satellite cameras? 

Also, the boats go out to set their nets when the tide is rising and then they return to base. Several hours later, they go out again to haul in the nets. Now if the pictures were taken at the time the boats have returned to base after setting their nets, no boats would be seen in the pictures .

In the case of pictures taken at night, would the small, battery-powered lights on the inshore boats be visible?

It is not uncommon for data to be manipulated to create a certain perception. There could be hundreds of photos showing a lot of inshore fishing boats in the reclamation area, but it would not be in the interest of the project proponents to show them.

It is a known fact that Zone B trawlers often encroach on Zone A to catch prawns and fish. Now, if there is nothing to catch in Zone A (the Bay of Teluk Kumbar) as Zairil has implied, why would the trawlers encroach on the area at the risk of arrest by marine police? 

The environment impact assessment has showed “expert” findings that inshore fishermen could get better catch further out to sea. What kind of study showed this? Did the experts perform daily practical fishing experiments in the deeper sea for at least 6 months before coming to this conclusion? Or did they spend six months fishing with the inshore fishermen to get true, first-hand information about the richness of this fishing ground? Otherwise, their “findings” would be pure speculation, wouldn’t they? – August 9, 2022.

* Ravinder Singh reads The Malaysian Insight. 

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