Why is  the  new RM80 million Penang Airport cargo complex not operational although it had been completed for months?

Speech (2)
DAP thanksgiving reception for Bukit Bendera general  election workers
Lim Kit Siang 

(Penang,  Saturday): In the recent general election, the Barisan Nasional came out with a manifesto with the theme "Malaysia - Free, United and Successful".

If the Consumer Protection Act covers election manifestoes, the Barisan Nasional would have committed numerous  offences for  false descriptions in its manifesto, as for instance, in its claim that Malaysia is united because "every citizen is given political freedom" and "law and order is enforced without fear or favour" and that Malaysia is successful because "voters are guaranteed the freedom of choice" and "because we uphold the sanctity of law".

Even the Barisan Nasional in Penang cannot claim to be "Free, United and Successful" when the Penang State Executive Council is still-born, with the MCA fighting for a second Deputy Chief Minister’s post while Barisan Nasional component parties quarrel over the distribution of State Exco posts, as to whether the formula should be 4-3-3-1 (with UMNO 4, Gerakan 3, MCA 3 and MIC 1) or revert back to 4-4-2-1 (UMNO 4, Gerakan 4, MCA 2, MIC 1).

Meanwhile, the Penang Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr. Koh Tsu Koon have ignored his election pledge to seek an urgent meeting with the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad to seek an extension of the Rent Control Act which is to be repealed on 31st December 1999, completely disregarding the fate of the 60,000 people affected by the repeal after he had been sworn in as Chief Minister.

Tsu Koon must be reminded that his primary responsibility is to resolve the  many problems afflicting the Penang state, whether the perennial floods, traffic congestion, degradation of the state infrastructure, the failure to improve the quality of life of Penangites,   the lack of accountability and transparency of the two Municipal Councils or the rent control crisis.

Penang’s motto "Penang Leads" must not degenerate into unsavoury leadership in the country, as for instance, Penang’s infamous gostan Autopont going down in the Malaysia Book of Records as "the narrowest single-lane flyover" in the country.

In this connection, Tsu Koon should explain why the new RM80 million Penang Airport cargo complex at Bayan Lepas is not operational, although it had been completed for months?

The new cargo complex, built on a 18ha land, has larger storage capacity of 360,000 tonnes compared with only 100,000 tonnes of the existing Malaysia Airlines cargo complex. The complex also have an apron which can house three Boeing 747s.  The new complex also house a new freight agents' base, 75 units of cargo warehousing, several  shoplots and offices.

Why is there no sense of urgency that the new facilities are  urgently required to become operational to meet the increasing demand from the airport's users, especially the numerous manufacturers in Penang, Kedah and Perak?

I understand that the reason why the new RM80 million Penang Airport cargo complex cannot be operational is because the Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAB), which owns and operates the cargo complex, does not have a licence to operate it. It would appear that MAB is more interested in going for public listing than in carrying out its responsibilities efficiently.

In any event, this state  of affairs  does  not reflect well on the efficiency and  competence of  the Penang Chief Minister or the Transport Minister.

This episode  does not give confidence that the Penang International Airport can remain the major gateway for the northern States until the year 2010.

In fact, there is the distinct danger of the revival of the plan to build the Northern Regional International Airport on a reclaimed island in Kedah, and it is most unlikely that Tsu Koon would have any political clout to prevent the Penang Airport being eclipsed by an international airport in Kedah.  All Tsu Koon could do then  is to provide for water taxis between Penang and the new Northern Region International Airport in Kedah!

The party leadership has decided that all DAP candidates are to go back to their respective constituencies to organise the party and serve the constituents and that a review would be made after two years, to decide whether to continue the arrangement or to substitute other potential candidates.

Sdr. Ong Hock Aun and Sdr. Wong Hang Yoke will respectively be responsible for Air Hitam and Tanjong Bunga.  I am appointing two special assistants to look after Kebun Bunga (Sdr. Ho Soon Cheng)  and Bukit Bendera (candidate agent Lim Hui Ying).


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman