Closing Ceremony of Pulau Gazumbo Clean-up Activity

Closing remarks by YB Phee Boon Poh, Penang State EXCO for Environment and Welfare cum Vice-Chairman of Penang Green Council during the Closing Ceremony of Pulau Gazumbo Clean-up Activity on 26th February 2022.

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.

Thank you for joining us in this memorable ceremony. I hope everyone had a good lunch just now after spending the entire morning at Pulau Gazumbo for the clean-up activity.

You might have already known where Pulau Gazumbo is and the condition by now. This man-made island was formed from sand build-ups while the first Penang Bridge was being built back in 1980s. Also known as the largest seagrass meadow along the Straits of Malacca, this island has a wide variety of marine life ranging from shellfish like horseshoe crab to marine algae. At the lowest tide, Pulau Gazumbo or also known as Middle Bank reveals its rich marine ecosystem of interacting plants, fishes and invertebrates, rivalling that of a rainforest. It also serves as a feeding ground for many marine creatures. Unfortunately, several decades after, the island became heavily polluted due to the high tide phenomenon that washed ashore the rubbish especially plastic bags and bottles from Penang Island. In fact, the ginormous piles of plastic waste found in the island is suspected to be from Sungai Pinang which is less than 1 kilometer off the Georgetown coast. 

According to Prof Dr Aileen Tan, the Director of CEMACS USM, the marine litter composition on Pulau Gazumbo was a textbook example of what scientists have discovered. Marine litter composition in Malaysia comprises 42% beverage bottles and 33% plastic bags, with the remainder being all other manners of plastic waste. With that said, Chief Minister of Penang, YAB Chow Kon Yeow has announced the conservation initiative of Pulau Gazumbo as a Middle Bank Marine Sanctuary (MBMS) during the launch of Phase 2: Accelerating Penang2030.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The Penang State Government through Penang Green Council has proposed a scheduled cleaning operation from time to time to get rid of the rubbish from the island. Hence, the objectives of today’s clean-up activity is mainly to create awareness on the garbage issue at the island, kick starting the cleaning operation and lay a foundation for continuous clean-ups. I would like to thank all volunteers who joined us this morning, thank you for spending your weekend for this great cause to the environment.

In order to spearhead this clean-up operation, collaboration between government agencies, education institutes, NGOs and private sectors are formed to organise the clean-up at Pulau Gazumbo. Let me take this opportunity to thank all parties involved – BPEN, Penang Institute, MBPP, Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), APM, Penang Swimming Club, CEMACS USM, Nature Classroom, Henghiap Industries and Dynamic Privilege Penang.

Management and conservation of the seagrass with its high diversity of flora and fauna are essential for the provision of ecosystem services and in mitigating future climate changes. This is our way forward; we cannot leave behind a world beyond repair to our future generations. The responsibility lies on each one of us, so take the ownership and act now! One small action of ours today will heavily shape how tomorrow will be.

Thank you and have a nice weekend ahead.