Saturday, December 21, 2013

Pengerang in danger (Heritage Trails of Pengerang)

A silver lining for Pengerang or is it sunset ?
My series of articles related to Pengerang continues. This article is not on a heritage trail per se, but gives insight into how it all started. Development has reached Pengerang in a big way. The Malaysia Government announced a mega development project in 2011, the Pengerang Integrated Petroleum Complex to be built on 22,500 acres of land acquired from the people of Pengerang. Construction has already began and some of the local population have become alarmed at the environmental and large scale impact of their livelihood caused by this project.
source: Malaysiakini 
In addition of land acquisition of their homes, farms, schools, places of worship and cemeteries; concerns of health and environment destruction from the pollution released from the petro-chemical plants were raised. A community who have been fishing and farming for generations have to in future, relearn or find new jobs.

Balancing development with existing livelihood
Various community leaders and Non governmental organisations have rallied together against this mega development project. However, not all are against this mega development that will create job opportunities for their children, whom some are working in major cities such as Johor Bahru and Singapore. The key concern is the need for clear transparency in compensation and that amount of land acquired be reduced so as to acquire land only truly needed for the project and not impact on the communities livelihood. The argument of job creation is rebutted as well because the nature of work in the refinery industry is very specialised and niche. How would a farmer or fisherman overnight switch to such jobs?

The Pengerang Community have recently rallied together (in the backdrop of the Malaysia GE2013 elections) to protest against one of the components of this mega project called the Refinery and Petroleum Integrated Development (RAPID) by Petronas which is reported to be valued at RM$60 billion. The locals have claimed a minor victory after managing to dissuade a Taiwan company (The Kuokang Petrochemical Technology Company ) to back away and not put in RM$40 billion into the RAPID project. The Government have accused this group, whom they claimed are influenced by external opposition politicians as "traitors".
source: The Straits Times 
With mud slinging back and forth, efforts by the grassroot groups to create awareness on Pengerang's cultural heritage continues with a Jogathon held on November 17, 2013 in protest of the relocation of the Chinese cemeteries.  Will there be a change that will safe Pengerang or at least protect the culural and heritage spots? The battle continues.........

Videos on Pengerang

Malaysian's protest against Petronas Project. (2012, October 1). The Straits Times
Taiwan firm gets nod for Pengerang Plant.(2013, June 4). Free Malaysia Today
Two sides to Pengerang's boom. (2013, March 14). The Edge
"Those who caused losses in Pengerang are traitors". (2013, December 5 ). Malaysiakini (via Yahoonews)
Jogathon: Protest against relocation of cemeteries. [website] Pengerang, Sungai Rengit

Related post
Chinese String Puppet Troupe, posted on December 20, 2013
Pengerang Temples, posted on December 17, 2013
Pengerang Battery, posted on December 16, 2013
Day Trip to Pengerang and Sungai Rengit, posted on August 6, 2010.
Trip to Sebana Cove, Pengerang to watch fireflies, posted on April 9, 2007

Getting to Pengerang via boat
From Singapore, the place you can take the boat is at Changi Village Ferry Terminal. Upon reaching Tanjong Pengelih, Johor, there will be many taxi's that will be able to bring you to the major town nearby, (roughly at the cost RM$20 - RM$25 for 1 cab) Sungai Rengit. The ferry will only leave when there are 12 people available to board it. So try to go with a group of friends consisting of 12 pax. At the point of writing, it cost about $11 - $13 per pax for a one way trip.

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