By Nur Adila Abdul Wahab
GEORGE TOWN, Dec 29 -- Several incidents in 2019 had put Penang at the centre of media coverage, including a landslide that killed four workers from Myanmar on June 25.
During the 9.45 pm incident, a retaining wall near a resort in Tanjung Bungah here collapsed due to landslide, burying the four men who were hired by the resort's management to repair the retaining wall after the land movement that had been detected in the area a week before.
The tragedy, however, did not overshadow Penang's achievement in terms of economic growth as the state recorded 5.4 per cent expansion in the first nine months compared with 4.9 per cent for the entire 2018.
The year 2019 could also be seen as the implementation year of the Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) after the state government was given conditional approval to proceed with the Penang south reclamation (PSR) to build landbank that will be utilised to finance PTMP project.
The approval along with 72 conditions was given by the Department of Environment (DOE) on July 4.
The RM46 billion PTMP entails undersea tunnel that connects the island and mainland, highways, light railway transit (LRT), monorail and a comprehensive bus network between the island and mainland.
However, civil society associations, particularly Penang Fishermen Association objected to the PSR, saying that it would affect their livelihoods as well as the environment.
Chow reassured that the Penang state government would ensure all conditions stipulated by the DOE were met and that it would adhere to the advice by the National Physical Planning Council in terms of the environmental impact assessment (EIA) for PSR.
Meanwhile, on Sept 16, Seberang Perai Municipal Council was upgraded to Seberang Perai City Council, making Penang the first state in the country with two city councils.
An incident in the early morning of Jan 20 that saw an SUV plunged off Penang Bridge following an accident with another car also become the focus of the media.
It took three days before the authorities were able to retrieve the car along with the body of one Moey Yun Peng, still strapped in the driver's seat, from the bottom of the sea due to the strong sea currents.
Penang also recorded the largest drug bust in the country this year after the police seized 12 tonnes of cocaine worth RM2.4 billion from three containers at the North Butterworth Container Terminal (NBCT) on Sept 10.
Besides that, the authorities also uncovered Mykad selling syndicate with the arrest of 20 individuals.
On Sept 12, six men, including an officer attached to Penang Department of National Registration and a 'Datuk’ were charged at the Sections Court for their involvement in the syndicate.
Also in the spotlight was the Department of Road Transport after a group of its officers were arrested and charged in court for taking bribe in lieu of protection to lorry drivers who committed road offences in the state.