‘THIS IS TOO SERIOUS, NORMAL PROBE NOT ENOUGH’ – GUAN ENG CALLS FOR PUBLIC INQUIRY INTO PENANG LANDSLIDE

THE Penang government will set up a formal Commission of Inquiry into the landslide at a construction site in Lembah Permai, Tanjung Bungah today, which has so far claimed the lives of three construction workers while a search and rescue mission is on for 11 others.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said a normal investigation would not be enough for such a serious incident.

He will propose to the state executive council in its coming meeting next week for a full state inquiry into the tragedy.

“It will be similar to the inquiries conducted on the previous Menara Umno and Second Penang Bridge tragedies several years ago that claimed the lives of motorists.

Lim said it would be best to leave it to experts to find out what caused the incident, such as the Department of Occupational Safety and Health.

In the meantime, the Penang Island City Council (MBPP) has been ordered to inspect all construction sites to ensure safety requirements were adhered to and prevent similar incidents, he said.

Earlier today, MBPP Mayor Maimunah Mohd Shariff said they had issued an immediate stop work order at the construction site to allow authorities to carry out investigations.

She said the incident was a work site accident.

The landslide happened about 8.30am at Lorong Lembah Permai 3. The construction site is for a private 50-storey affordable apartment project.

A third body of a Myanmar national was found at the landslide site at 1.20pm.

The two bodies found earlier this morning, according to the Fire and Rescue department, were Bangladeshis. The department said 14 people were buried in the landslide.

State fire and rescue department director Fire Commissioner Saadon Mokhtar said the K-9 unit would be brought in to assist in the search for the still missing 11 victims.

Lim said out of the 14 victims, one is a Malaysian.

Meanwhile, Penang police chief Commissioner Chuah Ghee Lye said Putrajaya would be sending the Special Malaysia Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team to help.

He said the police were also contacting the embassies whose citizens were involved in the incident.

PUBLIC ANGER MOUNTS

ACCORDING to the Star:

PETALING JAYA: Public anger is mounting over the deadly landslide which buried over a dozen workers at a construction site at Tanjung Bungah, Penang on Saturday morning (Oct 21).

Previous warnings to the Penang government over the dangers of over-developing the hillslopes had fallen on deaf ears.

According to reports, Tanjung Bungah Residents Association (TBRA) chairman Meenakshi Raman said the state government had brushed aside the comments of civil liberties groups on the state’s hillslope developments, calling such concerns “irrational”.

“We were called ‘irrational’ by the Penang government when we appealed for hill slope developments to stop. Who’s irrational now?” she was quoted as saying.

Prior to this, the TBRA had repeatedly petitioned the state government to end said developments as they caused flash floods in the state.

Along with other residents’ associations during the flash floods in September, they had collectively appealed to the state government to end all excess developments and hill clearing in the state.

Standing in solidarity with TBRA and other groups, Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM), had also called on the Penang government to improve existing guidelines when it comes to hill slopes.

According to SAM president S. M Mohamed Idris, the NGO had written to the Penang powers-that-be “several times” to urge them to stop hillside developments.

They also issued warnings that hill slopes are fragile ecosystems that shouldn’t be interfered with.

“And now, we are really shocked that the lives of many have been sacrificed. We support TBRA’s call for an urgent RCI,” he added.

THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT / ANN

.