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]

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Basic Data
NameNew airport on Tioman Island, Malaysia
SiteKampung 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 CommoditiesTourism services
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsA 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 (in USD)288,000,000
Type of PopulationSemi-urban
Start Date2003
Company Names or State EnterprisesBerjaya 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 actorsGovernment 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 organisations and other supportersReef Check Malaysia -

The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingLocal ejos
tourism businesses
Forms of MobilizationDevelopment 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
OtherDamage to coral reefs, sea grass beds and beaches
Health ImpactsPotential: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
OtherIllnesses caused by pollutants emitted by aircraft
Socio-economic ImpactsPotential: Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Other socio-economic impacts
OtherNegative impacts on established tourism businesses
Project StatusProposed (exploration phase)
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseStated commitment to comply with rules regarding Tioman Island's marine park status[7]
Development of AlternativesResidents 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 as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.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 and Materials

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

Other Documents

Protest against new Tioman airport On 21st October 2018 villagers and NGOs protested against the proposed new airport in Tioman. Source: Citizen Journalists Malaysia
[click to view]

#SaveTioman Social media campaign against a new airport on Tioman Island. Source: Citizen Journalists Malaysia
[click to view]

Kampung Genting The proposed new airport would have negative impacts on the village of Kampung Genting. Source: @ Kampung Genting by Chang’r licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0
[click to view]

Protest against a new airport On 21st October 2018 villagers and NGOs protested against the proposed new airport in Tioman. Source: Citizen Journalists Malaysia
[click to view]

Plan for new Tioman airport The proposed site, off the coastline of Kampung Genting, raised concerns that land reclamation would damage coral reefs and beaches. Image: Haji Azman. Source:
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorRose Bridger, Stay Grounded, email: [email protected]
Last update08/01/2019