Malaysia rejected a bid by tycoon Vincent Tan to build an international airport on Tioman island, saying the proposal would cause damage to the environment.
(Bloomberg) — Malaysia rejected a bid by tycoon Vincent Tan to build an international airport on Tioman island, saying the proposal would cause damage to the environment.
The cabinet’s decision not to proceed with the project reflects the government’s commitment to balance environmental concerns with development needs, Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad, the country’s minister for natural resources, environment and climate change, said in a statement Wednesday.
The proposal had sparked opposition from conservationists and local communities after an environmental study showed that as much as 76% of the airport would be built on land reclaimed from the sea, destroying coral reefs. Tioman, a small island with about 3,000 people off the coast of Pahang state, is known for its pristine waters and is a popular diving destination.
“Even though the intention of the new airport is to draw more tourists, the construction will destroy Tioman Island’s natural attraction, leading to unsustainable tourism,” Nik Nazmi said.
Tan’s Berjaya Corp. owns and operates one of Tioman’s biggest resorts. He had first announced plans to build the airport in 2018 using his company’s own cash and with the backing of the Pahang state government. Tan had also previously unveiled plans to build an airstrip at Redang, another small island off Pahang, where his company runs a luxury resort.
Berjaya, which runs Starbucks and 7-Eleven franchises in the country as well as gaming shops and car dealerships, is also vying for the Malaysia-Singapore High Speed Rail project that the government is looking to revive.
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