State proposals for cable car linking Penang Hill, Botanic Garden and Telok Bahang

It is with great concern and trepidation that Penang Forum wishes to issue a statement about the proposed cable car link announced in the press today.

The proposals are ill conceived, not properly studied and based on the whims of businessmen and fancies of politicians.

The Special Area Plan of the Botanic Gardens underwent due process, was presented to the public for feedback and NO mention of the cable car was made.

A special review panel was appointed by the state government to study the Special Area Plan. The cable car proposal was put in at the last stage and NOT presented to the public. The state review panel itself strongly objected to the cable car for various reasons of environment, usage and traffic.

Penang Forum wishes to highlight its concerns:

  • Our last and largest water catchment area on the island will be threatened. The forest reserves which will be affected by the proposed cable car link are the Teluk Bahang Permanent Forest Reserve and the Bukit Kerajaan Permanent Forest Reserve.
  • Our forests and trees will be threatened (although all kinds of assurances will be given). The Teluk Bahang and Batu Ferringghi hills contain the last expanse of undisturbed forests in Penang.
  • The proposals will involve constructing massive concrete towers in our forests.
  • The construction process includes getting to and from the towers and will involve cutting and destroying large parts of the forests. The possibility of landslides and soil erosion will arise due to the cutting of steep slopes. (Teluk Bahang  hill slopes up to Western Hill and Penang Hills are very steep.)
  • The proposals will involve huge pylons hanging over a great distance over hills and valleys.
  • Traffic congestion is already intolerable at Botanic Garden, Jalan Utama, Bagan Jermal and Gottlieb Road, and Tanjung Bungah and Telok Bahang. To promote any proposal that would cause the situation to drastically deteriorate, while threatening the ecology of our beloved hills, demonstrates both a lack of caring for Penang as well as a lack of any sustainable vision.
  • Massive bus parks and car parks will have to be constructed involving more removal of trees, more concrete hardscape and more flooding.
  • Thousands of passengers will have to be transported from buses and cars to the base stations.
  • Our beloved and highly used greens of the Youth Park will be invaded by tourists, buses, flyovers and bus parks and become totally polluted.
  • No public input or consultation was carried out; no stakeholder meetings were held.
  • Hawkers and itinerant traders will start setting up stalls all over the base stations causing more congestion and pollution.
  • Previously residential areas will become untenable.
  • The hills of Penang are already at maximum carrying capacity level and cannot tolerate more intrusion into its fragile ecosystem.
  • This cable car plan will jeopardise the state-backed proposal for a 500ha Unesco biosphere reserve on Penang Hill, which will be fragmented by development of this scale.

The suspended cable car cannot in any way present itself as a form of public transport. Very few places in the world would seriously consider suspended cable cars as public transport. Would a Penang commuter pay possibly RM50 or more per work day?

The people of Penang are appalled today to face a revival of a determination to profit from a very fragile environmental system.

The Penang public just wants its hills preserved, guarded and cared for; we look to our state government to ensure that self-serving, profit-driven entrepreneurs take their ill-conceived plans elsewhere.

Our future and the future of our children cannot be left in the hands of exploitative businessmen.

Penang Forum steering committee
18 December 2016


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