(Penang Youth Park, Saturday): The plaintive complaint by Barisan
Nasional State Assemblymen, like the MCA Assemblyman for Air Itam (one of the
two constituencies most hard hit by PORR), that they know very little about the
RM1.02 billion 17.8 km Penang Outer Ring Road (PORR) project and that the Opposition and Consumers Association of Penang
get more information on PORR than Barisan Nasional elected representatives (Nanyang
Northern 1.6.02) is proof that the government handling of PORR violates the
principles of good urban governance such as public participation, transparency
In his over a decade as Penang Chief Minister, Tan Sri Dr. Koh Tsu Koon had performed
the official opening of countless conferences, forums and meetings on
good urban governance, some of which were organized under the auspices of
regional and international organizations like the United Nations Development
Programme (UNDP) on the international best practices of good urban governance.
But what is the use of the Penang Chief
Minister declaring open so many conferences
and making very impressive speeches on urban planning and good urban governance
if the state government he leads
refuses to uphold the basic principles of urban good governance when it comes
to mega projects like the PORR, which will affect more than 150,000
people on the island or over 20 per cent of the population, including some 200
dwellings – 76 private houses, 70 government quarters and some 100 squatter
homes – temples, shrines and cemeteries directly
affected; apart from the larger
questions of the equity aspect of PORR in imposing 30 years of toll
on Penangites to create one or two Midas, its viability and compatibility with
sustainable transport policy for Penang island.
How can the Penang State Government
talk about good urban governance when even Barisan Nasional elected
representatives know so little about PORR to the extent of publicly complaining
that Opposition MPs and NGOs know more than them?
After opening so many conferences about
urban planning, Tsu Koon should show an example of good urban governance and
conduct a full briefing on PORR to all Penang State Assemblymen and MPs, whether
government or opposition, before
any final decision is taken on PORR – and even more important, commit the
Penang State Government to the important principle that the State
Government would not surrender any state
land to Peninsular Metroworks Sdn Bhd until the State Assembly has formally
approved the project by way of a motion.
Penang Deputy Chief Minister, Datuk Dr.
Hilmi Yahaya announced yesterday that the exhibition on
the PORR alignment has been extended by another month until June 27 at
the Malaysian Highway Authority’s northern region office in Batu Uban and MHA
officers would be there to answer queries.
said that “People can ask
whatever they want to know” at the exhibition, the more important issue is
whether people could get answers to “whatever they want to know” at the exhibition. It
is no use just asking if no answers are forthcoming.
For instance, can the MHA exhibition and the MHA officers in attendance give answers to the following questions:
do not think the extended PORR exhibition at the MHA can answer any of
these questions and this is why the onus remains firmly and squarely on
the Penang Chief Minister and the State Government to set an example of
good urban governance by complying with the
international best practices of public participation, transparency and accountability – starting by briefing all
Penang State Assemblymen and Members of Parliament the full details and all
implications of PORR.