Last update:

New airport on Tioman Island, Malaysia

Residents, NGOs and tourism businesses protest revival of a plan for new airport off the coast of Tioman Island. Land reclamation for the project would damage coral reefs, seagrass beds and white sand beaches that are the main attraction for visitors.


Tioman is a small, densely forested, sparsely populated island attracting many tourists to its beautiful coastline with white sand beaches. A plan to build a new airport near the western coast of Tioman first emerged in 2003.[1] Construction was scheduled to commence in 2004, on reclaimed land off the coast of the village of Kampung Paya. But in 2009 then transport minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat called off the project. Potential environmental impacts, in particular damage to coral reefs and marine life were a key factor in his decision. The airport plan had also triggered strong protests in Kampung Paya and two neighbouring villages: Kampung Genting and Kampung Mukut.[2]

See more
Basic Data
Name of conflict:New airport on Tioman Island, Malaysia
State or province:Pahang
Location of conflict:Kampung Genting
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Ports and airport projects
Specific commodities:Tourism services
Project Details and Actors
Project details

A plan for a new, second, airport on Tioman Island first emerged in 2003, but was cancelled in 2009 following protests over the environmental damage that would be caused. The proposed site was off the coast of the village of Kampung Paya. The airport project was revived in June 2018 when Vincent Tan, executive chairman of Berjaya Group (also referred to as Berjaya Corporation Berhad) said a plan would be submitted to the government.[1] The project cost is estimated at RM1.2 billion (USD288 million). Vincent Tan stated that construction of the airport would be financed by Berjaya Group with internal funds and loans from banks, at no cost to the federal government.[8]

Level of Investment for the conflictive project288,000,000
Type of populationSemi-urban
Start of the conflict:2003
Company names or state enterprises:Berjaya Corporation Berhad from Malaysia - In June 2018 Berjaya Corp Berhad announced it would submit plans for a new airport to the government
Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB) from Malaysia - Stated there are environmental concerns over the project and did not approve previous plans for a new airport
Relevant government actors:Government of Malaysia
Pahang Darul Makmur
Department of Environment
Department of Marine Park
Department of Irrigation and Drainage (DID)
Water Regulatory Body (BKSA)
State Secretary Office
Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Reef Check Malaysia -
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
tourism businesses
Forms of mobilization:Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Other Environmental impacts
Other Environmental impactsDamage to coral reefs, sea grass beds and beaches
Health ImpactsPotential: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Other Health impactsIllnesses caused by pollutants emitted by aircraft
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Other socio-economic impacts
Other socio-economic impactsNegative impacts on established tourism businesses
Project StatusProposed (exploration phase)
Conflict outcome / response:Stated commitment to comply with rules regarding Tioman Island's marine park status[7]
Proposal and development of alternatives:Residents have suggested upgrading the existing airport at Kampung Tekek, including lengthening the runway to accommodate larger aircraft,[6] and upgrading the jetty to enable an increase in visitors arrive by boat.[3] Building a new airport in Mersing instead has also been suggested.[1]
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:At this moment there is a stated commitment to comply with rules regarding Tioman Island's marine park status[7]. But the project goes ahead
Sources & Materials

[1] Environmental NGO: Build airport in Mersing, not Tioman, The Star Online, 14 June 2018
[click to view]

[2] Tioman airport extension off, The Star Online, 8 March 2009
[click to view]

[3] Tioman villagers protest proposal for new airport, The World News, 23 October 2018
[click to view]

[4] Tioman needs better facilities, not new airport: Group, The Edge Financial Daily, 25
[click to view]

[5] Villagers fight to save Tioman reefs, Citizen Journalists Malaysia, 29 October 2018
[click to view]

[6] Proposed Tioman airport will not benefit locals, environment, New Straits Times, 27 October 2018
[click to view]

[7] New airport will not disturb Tioman Island’s environment: MB, Bernama, 24 November 2018
[click to view]

[8] Berjaya Group wants to build airport in Tioman, The Edge Markets, 7 June 2018
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Rose Bridger, Stay Grounded, email: [email protected]
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:3945
Legal notice / Aviso legal
We use cookies for statistical purposes and to improve our services. By clicking "Accept cookies" you consent to place cookies when visiting the website. For more information, and to find out how to change the configuration of cookies, please read our cookie policy. Utilizamos cookies para realizar el análisis de la navegación de los usuarios y mejorar nuestros servicios. Al pulsar "Accept cookies" consiente dichas cookies. Puede obtener más información, o bien conocer cómo cambiar la configuración, pulsando en más información.