Save Penang Hill! NO large hotels on Penang Hill!

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We strongly object the two hotels proposed near the Convalescent Bungalow (about 200 rooms) and Coolie Lines (about 100 rooms) on Penang Hill which were announced by YAB CM Chow Kon Yeow on the 8th of November 2018. We call on the Penang State Government to review and cancel this mega development project on the hill for the following reasons.

1. It will spoil the charm and ambience of Penang Hill. To many both far and near, the hill is a recreational space, a place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city where they can enjoy the greenery of the forest, fresh air and see the beauty of the colonial bungalows. Building this hotel would add additional structures to the hill, result in clearing of trees and disrupt vistas of heritage bungalows.

2. Tremendously strain Penang Hill’s limited resources. Both hotels would have about 300 rooms in total which would mean about 500-600 extra people on Penang Hill if both hotels are in full occupancy. This would extremely strain the hill’s limited resource, especially its water, electric supply and stretch associated services ( Food and sewage). This project will definitely be beyond the hill’s carrying capacity

3. Concerns over soil erosion and possibility of landslides. It worries us that this Penang Hill hotel project announcement comes less than a month after the deadly Bukit Kukus landslide. In the space of one year between October 2017 to October 2018 a total of 20 deaths have occurred as a result of preventable landslides and we are extremely worried that similar circumstances could happen on Penang Hill which is an environmentally sensitive area if this project proceeds.

4. Not Climate Smart development. With Penang bearing the brunt of climate change which is causing increased rainfall and extreme weather events like the November 2017 floods, construction of these two hotels and that too on the top of the hill (near Convalescent) and the other on a slope (along Coolie Lines) would make it susceptible to the impact of extreme weather. It is worth reminding that Penang Hill suffered almost 200 landslides in the November 2017 floods which resulted in unprecedented damage to the hill’s slopes and infrastructure.

5. Disrupts the flora and fauna of the hill. As pointed out by YAB CM Chow Kon Yeow himself on the 8th of November, part of the hotel project would be inside forest reserve land which needs to be ‘resolved’. We are extremely worried with how this will be ‘resolved’ and are concerned that it would result in cutting of trees and uprooting of flora and fauna, a good number of which are unique to Penang Hill. As the only state which prides itself in ‘not touching a single inch of forest reserve’, the Penang State Government should walk it’s talk and stop this project from eating into our precious forest reserve land.

6. Endangers our Water Catchment. Penang Hill and its forests are an important water catchment supplying between 15-20% of the state's water needs. The proposed hotel will border parts of the hill slope on Penang Hill which are gazetted as water catchment area. Thus the construction of the hotel, especially the one at the Convalescent Hotel would result in disruption of water catchment areas.

7. Conflicts with the application of UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserve for Penang Hill. The proposed hotel will border the proposed UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserve and this would jeopardize the objective of the UNESCO Man and Biosphere initiative to ensure long-term conservation and preservation of the natural habitat of Penang Hill.

With the following reasons we appeal to YAB CM Chow Kon Yeow and the Penang State Government to be fully transparent about the project’s details in accordance with Penang’s CAT principles and cancel this project for the sake of Penang. Let’s not sacrifice Penang Hill, our crowning jewel, at the altar of unscrupulous, unsustainable development.

Save my hill, Save our hill, Save Penang Hill!