With regard to The RAPID project which will be started very soon, a petition cited under Standing Order Section 19 had been established to demand The Parliament to set up a poll for Pengerang residents in order for them to decide their own homeland’s future.
The campaign started on 31th March 2012 and ended on 8th April 2012. Within this period, a survey had been carried out simultaneously as a future step to understand what the local opinion towards the said project is.
The survey covered from Tanjung Pengilih to Sungai Musuh. According to the division of administrative area, 8 localities were affected by the project under Tanjung Surat State Seat. Due to insufficient human resources, one of the localities is located at the north bank of Sungai Lebam and was not covered by the survey team.
According to the 2008 Electoral Roll, Tanjung Surat has 16498 voters. The total voters under the above mentioned Electoral Roll 7 localities, is 8515. By assuming that there are 15% (14.85%) of unregistered voters and underaged residents, an estimated amount of affected residents is around 10,000 people, or approximately 2/3 of the total residents. 338 survey forms had been received. With the estimation of 3-5% error rate, hereby is the analysis report of the said survey.
338 persons had been involved in the survey. The racial composition of this total number of persons is 164 Malay (48.52%), 167 Chinese (49.41%) and 7 (2.07%) of the rest are from other races.
The Age distribution is as follows : 16 person under 21 y.o (4.73%), 120 person within 21 to 39 y.o.(35.50%), 67 person within 40 to 49 y.o.(19.82%), 63 person within 50 to 59 y.o. (18.64%), 72 person above 60 y.o. (21.30%).
There are 5 questions in the survey form and 4 of them are objective type questions.
First question asked whether the respondent realised a petrochemical project will be carried out in this area. 97.34% of respondents said they know about the project.
Second questionaskedif the respondent realise that the said project will bring destruction to the environment. 90.53% of them said YES and 0.3% said they have no comment.
Third question asked if the project will ruin the traditional country side livelihood, especially its effect on the fishermen. 92.01% said YES and 0.89% had no comment.
Fourth question asked the respondents to list out the benefits that will be brought about by the project for the residents. 73.96% of the respondents did not answer this question. 15.38% said the project will bring in jobs for local and 10.65% said they were observing the progress.
The fifth question asked if the respondents agreed that the project was a necessity. 75.15% of them did not agree. 23.37% said they agreed to the development and the rest of 1.48% said they had no comment.
The above statistics obviously shows that most of the Pengerang residents have negative views towards the project. In the fifth question, up to 75.15% of the respondents do not agree that it is a necessity to have the project located in Pengerang.
Although most of the respondents realized the impact of petrochemical industry towards the environment and traditional country life (question 2),
there are less than 1% of respondents mentioned the environmental issues in > question 4. Hence, the statistics reveals that local residents are more concerned with the economic interests that can be brought in or perhaps lack of knowledge of environmental pollution that may caused by the petrochemical industry.
While respondents were asked to list out the benefits (question 5), among them 73.15% of them left the space blank. 80% of them did not agree that it was a necessity to develop such a kind of project in Pengerang. 20% of others agreed.
Nevertheless, most of the respondents were not able to list out the reasons why they agreed or did not agree with the project.
The main reason may be caused by a lack of related information, especially while Federal Government announces the project of the Dialog-Vopak Deep Sea Terminal, most of the residents were not informed. Besides that, when UPEN Johor launched a seminar for the RAPID project early this year, attendants were not allowed to question. Information-blocking caused by the authorities had obstructed the option for the residents to raise their voice for their opinion.
It is something important to note that, under question 5, there are 33 fishermen who responded to the survey and 90.91% of them did not agree and 9.09% agreed.
Fishing activities will be the first to be affected in this project. These fishermen have been living here for more than 4 generations. Although the Fishing Department suggests those who will be affected by the project to move to the eastern side of Pengerang.
In fact, currently their catches has dropped within 50 to 70%. Fishermen who are considered as “outsider” to the local fishermen will increase the competitiveness and eventually cause the conflict between new comers and local fishermen.
Other than that, the Fishing Department and Fisherman Association since then have not yet offered an issue statement for the fishermen. This has caused discontent to the affected fishermen and eventually cause an incident whereby 578 fishermen filed a suit seeking compensation for land reclamation project connected with the project.
It is a necessity for the Federal Government and Johor State Government to face squarely to the opinion of Pengerang Residents. This survey which was conducted simultaneously during the petition campaign can be made as a good reference. In order to be prudent, the authorities should conduct a in-deep survey through an agency with good credibility. Besides that, the public should be allowed to question the authorities for clarification concerning their doubts.
Er Teck Hwa