What now for the others? NewStraitsTimes
THE sun has set on one of the most, if not the most, popular and happening beach bars in Penang.Sunset Bistro in Batu Feringghi was one of the must-visit places on the island to many who have been here or heard of the place.
However, despite its reputation, the bistro was bulldozed and reduced to rubble by Penang Island Municipal Council (MPPP) enforcement personnel on Saturday morning.
The demolition team went ahead with their task despite pleas from the bistro owner, other nearby operators and even tourists who begged for the place to be granted a “stay of execution”.
Apparently, the demolition order was issued by the district office on the grounds that the bistro was located on state government land and did not have the necessary licences to operate there.
It has not been a good start to the new year for the bistro, which has made a name for itself since it opened five years ago.
Last Tuesday, a fire broke out at the bistro and destroyed its Island Bar and Long Bar sections.
“Tiger” — which was undoubtedly everybody’s favourite parrot at the bar because of its endless mimicking of human conversation — perished in the flames.
The owners were determined to rebuild the bistro. Within days, construction workers were busy putting the place back together again.
But, just as the two bars were about to be finished, the demolition team showed up and took everyone by surprise.
While the authorities may have their justification for tearing down the place, since it was operating illegally, the question is whether the other outlets along the beach would also be demolished since most, if not all, are also built on state government land.
And, just like Sunset Bistro, they too have been operating without the necessary paperwork.
The possibility of them suffering a similar fate as Sunset Bistro has already sent shock waves among the other operators, many of whom are wondering how much time they had left.
The state authorities have so far remained silent on what is in store for the many illegal beach bars along the Batu Feringghi coastline.
State Local Government and Traffic Management Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow has only confirmed that the demolition of Sunset Bistro was done on the directive of the district office.
However, if the state government is to live up to its CAT (Competent, Accountable and Transparent) motto, it has to explain what is in store for the other illegal businesses on the beach.
As it is, only a few beach front bars cater to budget tourists who visit the island.
Surely, there is a better way for the authorities in Penang to handle the matter. For instance, it can issue a deadline for the operators to get the necessary paper work which will legitimise their businesses.
Demolishing illegal outlets may be necessary in some cases but sometimes, an amicable solution can work just as well.
The state authorities must also ensure that it is fair to all and there is no selective persecution, perceived or otherwise.
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