Landslide at Malaysian Construction Site Kills 11
A landslide at a construction site in Malaysia killed 11 workers over the weekend, and more developments are slated on the region’s hillside, officials say.
According to reports, the landslide occurred Saturday morning at a site where two 49-story high-rise condominium towers are being built in Tanjung Bungah.
Although the cause of the landslide hasn’t been confirmed, residents and activists in the area blame the development of the slopes, and, in fact, the government’s Department of Environment had rejected the application of that residential project.
However, according to the New Straights Times, Penang Island City Council Mayor Datuk Maimunah Mohd Sharif said that the decision was made by council to overrule the DOE’s rejection.
“The DOE’s view was only one agency’s view, whereas we consider the views of other agencies before giving the approval to the developer. Commencement of work was given on Jan 18, 2016,” she said. “Furthermore, the DOE supported a planning permission application for two other projects, which is in fact closer to the granite quarry compared to this project.
“The project also complied with other requirements, including the ones given by the Housing and Local Government Ministry for a Class II project.”
There are at least 18 high-rise residential projects—including seven slated to be built on hillslopes—that are in various stages of approval.
"I have protested against all these projects but I don't think it will be heeded, just like how the authorities bulldozed through with the affordable housing project, where the landslide occurred,” he said. “It will be a matter of time before the authorities forget about the landslide and approve all these projects.”
Bungah went on to say he hopes that the Penang government would freeze all high-rise hillslope developments, and while there are no reports of that, the government did announce it is establishing a commission of inquiry into the landslide.
“The Penang State Commission of Inquiry will conduct a full and independent investigation to determine the cause of this work site accident and take action against those responsible,” said Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.
Officials have pointed out that the region had not seen rain for several days, leading to the conclusion that the landslide was not a natural occurrence.
“Whilst we do not wish to speculate, strong suspicions remain of professional negligence, defects in monitoring and non-compliance with work safety procedures.”
A stop-work order had been issued for the project and the developer (who was not named) until the investigation is complete.