Malaysiakini News

Check and balance needed in Penang

Teng Chang Yeow  |  Published:  |  Modified:

COMMENT | Malaysia is a democratic country and in a democratic system, both the state government and the opposition are equally important.

The state government’s role is to govern, not to continue politicking even after the general election. Given the mandate by the people, the state government must serve them.

In the past, the BN state government under the leadership of the late Dr Lim Chong Eu and Koh Tsu Koon had efficiently and effectively carried out their role to govern Penang responsibly and professionally, leaving behind many good legacies we are enjoying until today.

They made Penang known to the world with good reputation such as the Pearl of the Orient and Silicon Valley of the east. They also worked hard to successfully list George Town as a Unesco World Heritage sites.

Also, a truly democratic system needs an equally effective opposition to provide check and balance. If Penang BN eventually continues to be the opposition in Penang, I believe we can play our role effectively and with quality because, for the last few years, we have done that, relying on facts, figures and with rationale to highlight issues faced by Penangites.

Among them are the RM6.3billion undersea sea tunnel project; the controversial Peel Avenue land sale; Seri Tanjung Pinang Phase 2 (STP2) reclamation in Gurney Drive: hillslope development, e.g., the infamous Bukit Relau Botak Hill; gazetting of Pulau Jerejak as a permanent forest reserve; freedom of information; heritage; as well as floods, housing, and traffic.

On the Freedom of Information Enactment 2010: It’s an enactment, a law, but not adhered to by the state government. Penang Gerakan acting Youth chief Jason Loo has applied three times under the FOI to access documents for the reclamation projects, including STP2, but applications were denied. They gave all sorts of excuses to reject the applications. Have the FOI for fun, syiok only!

Heritage: The current caretaker state government failed to stop heritage buildings from being demolished to make way for more profitable housing development. They also failed to prevent sales of heritage houses and shop houses in city centre to foreigners.

Floods: These have been occurring frequently in the state, causing the people to suffer losses and damage. The most serious flood was Nov 4 and 5, 2017.

Traffic: The caretaker state government has failed in the management and dispersal of traffic, resulting in rampant traffic jams everywhere in the state, especially when it rains.

Housing: They have failed to build low-cost and low-medium cost houses for the people. Their so-called affordable houses, pricing RM300,000 each and above are simply beyond the reach of the young and the working class with average income.

When we raised the undersea tunnel, Pulau Jerejak and Peel Avenue land sale issues, we were slapped with legal suits. I have been slapped with a legal suit by the caretaker chief minister for raising the Pulau Jerejak issue, while Loo is facing a court case for raising questions regarding the Peel Avenue land sale.

As for STP2 reclamation project off Gurney Drive, when BN candidate for Kebun Bunga Ooi Zhi Yi posed questions, the state government kept on giving inconsistent answers, especially on the size of land to be reclaimed.

At first, their official reply was 850 acres, it was then changed to 891 acres. When we questioned the missing 41 acres, which is big enough to build 656 tennis courts, they did not clarify. The missing 41 acres is RM2.3 billion worth of land, based on the Penang government’s fixed value of RM1,300 per sq ft for the reclaimed land in STP2.

When Loo, who is BN candidate for Pulau Tikus, applied to access three land reclamation agreements including STP2’s via the Freedom of Information Enactment, the application was rejected.

As for Pulau Jerejak, after 10 years until today, it was not gazetted.

Other than bringing up these issues, we have also offered our recommendations and solutions to the many issues affecting the state in the past 10 years.

Let me also recap what has happened to Penang and our lives within the last 10 years. We have experienced the Lim Guan Eng administration which has had absolute power and there is no check and balance.

Do we want to continue to have a state government helmed by a chief minister who is arrogant and vindictive, surrounded by yes men who don’t have the guts to speak their mind on issues and problems faced by their constituents?

Since nobody from within the state government can offer any alternative views, coupled with no Gerakan or MCA representatives in the state assembly, he can extend his tentacles to control everything and do as he likes, allowing him to continue politicking since the day they formed the state government, neglecting proper and sincere governance.

When met with failures of their policies, they just resorted to blaming either the previous government or the federal government, including the frequent floods in Penang, which caused the people to continually suffer losses and damage.

Over the past 10 years of their reign, Penang people have been increasingly suffering from many problems and issues including floods, housing, economic, traffic and environmental etc.

Unfortunately, the people’s feedbacks and grouses continue to fall on deaf ears.

What will happen to Penang in the next five years after this general election? Do Penangites want further damage to Penang, which may be permanent and irreparable?

Therefore, it is important for every voter to be calm and think carefully. Do we want to continue to live with all these problems and more serious problems for another five years?

I have assembled a new team, comprising of experienced, young members, including women. Each of us is committed and positive in wanting to provide a good check and balance to save Penang, to fight for a better Penang.

We need a platform; a platform for check and balance to save our beloved Penang in crisis.

We humbly urge you to vote for us. Send our representatives into the state assembly for check and balance, to save Penang.

TENG CHANG YEOW is BN parliamentary candidate for Tanjung Bungah.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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