At the previous Penang State Assembly, Penang Chief Minister, Tan Sri Dr. Koh Tsu Koon had said that Penang would serve as the northern regional airport with a new international airport at Seberang Prai.
The announcement that this new Penang International Airport has been scrapped in favour of a new international airport in Kedah has come as a "bolt from the blue" and it would appear that the Penang Chief Minister had no clue about it beforehand.
What is shocking is the surprisingly complacent initial reaction of the Penang Chief Minister when news of the new international airport in Kedah was announced a week ago. Asked if the new proposed airport in Kuala Muda could adversely affect tourism in the State, Dr. Koh said that on the contrary, it might actually boost Penang’s tourism.
Dr. Koh said: "If fast-speed water taxis and ferry services are established between the reclaimed island to the north of Penang directly to the Batu Ferringhi tourist belt, Georgetown and other locations, tourists can be brought to Penang directly from the proposed airport by sea."
He said the State Government would give its input on this idea to the Federal Government as well.
This is most shocking for the Penang Chief Minister seems to have given up even without a fight for Penang to be the northern regional airport, and was immediately talking about playing auxiliary role to the new proposed international airport in Kedah in terms of "water taxis" and "ferry services".
Dr. Koh’s latest statement yesterday that the Penang State Government was asking the Federal Government to consider the State Government’s views before making a decision on the northern regional airport was the proper position to take - although it is to be wondered how serious is the Penang Chief Minister on this stand when he was already thinking about "water taxis" and "ferry services" to connect Penang to the new international airport in Kedah.
DAP will give full support to the Penang State Government if it is serious in wanting to convince the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed and the Federal Government that Penang should be the site for the northern regional airport.
However, the latest controversy over the new international airport in Kedah displacing Penang is another consequence of a Penang State Government which had become too complacent because of too big a win in the last general elections.
There had been several other such adverse repercussions arising from the complacency of too one-sided a victory for the Barisan Nasional in Penang in the April 1995 general elections, such as: