(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): Last Thursday, Deputy Chief Minister
Datuk Dr. Hilmi Yahaya told the Penang State Assembly that the Penang State
Government had “sacrificed” 31 ha of prime state land and 202 ha of
reclaimed land off Gurney Drive to reduce the originally-proposed PORR toll per
toll station from RM1.70 to RM1, but in the
same breath, he claimed that the
PORR would be constructed “with no direct public cost”.
On Sunday, however, the Minister for
Works, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu came to Penang and said that the toll rate for PORR is still under discussion and has yet to be decided, giving the assurance that the toll rate to be charged would be most reasonable, taking into account the burden to be borne by users and the cost that the government had to bear in constructing the road. Is the toll for PORR going to be very well below RM1 per toll station?
any event, what is this “cost” to be borne by the government
that Samy Vellu was talking about when Hilmi had told the Penang State
Assembly that there is “no direct public cost”?
to Samy Vellu, this “public cost” is
federal allocation for the compensation scheme, RM200 million
in prime state land and the right to reclaim 200 ha for a mixed
development project to the concessionaire to reduce the cost to RM740 milion”
– claiming that “Reducing the cost of projects means a reduction in toll
As there is such a clear conflict
between Federal and State Governments about whether there is “public cost”
in PORR, the Federal and State government leaders should come clean about PORR
and stop playing a “cat-and-mouse” game with the people of Penang in making conflicting and confusing
statements - all stemming from the total lack of transparency of PORR.
Vellu has not been able to give any
cogent or convincing reason when he rejected
calls for the re-bidding of PORR except remarking that
“those fellows will only ask for more money”.
people of Penang must presume that by “those fellows”, he could only refer
Metroworks Sdn Bhd, which has been issued with a Letter of Intent for the PORR
concession as it was the
sole applicant several years ago – which is not a very complimentary remark
about the sense of corporate responsibility of a RM50,000 company without any
track record in highway construction which
had been awarded a billion-ringgit mega privatization project against the
international best practices of good urban governance and public integrity.
Be that as it may, Samy
Vellu cannot be right that if
there is a re-bidding for PORR privatization, Peninsular Metroworks Sdn Bhd
would be able to “ask for more money”, for it would not be a replay of the
original bid five years ago when nobody knew
that the PORR concessionaire would be given the unprecedented bounties of
30-year toll concession, 31 ha of prime State land and 202 ha of reclaimed land
off Gurney Drive – estimated to worth some RM5 billion!
Samy Vellu had attended many
international conferences as Works Minister in various parts of the world as
well as officiating the opening of even more conferences on transporation and
privatization in Malaysia.
Let Samy Vellu explain why he had
allowed the PORR project to violate
the international best practices of
good urban governance and public integrity where government support for any
privatization project should be defined upfront as a maximum so that the private
sector can prepare realistic bids and to avoid hanky-panky and improper
influences and malpractices in the
Samy Vellu should
also explain why the Federal Government is discriminating against Penang
in not ensuring that the PORR is toll-free, when it could ensure that the RM500
million Seremban Middle Ring Road is toll-free as well as allocate RM1 billion
to Kedah for a toll-free Sungei Petani Outer Ring Road as well as other road
projects in the state – when Penang is equally if not more deserving of such
Federal government support considering Penang’s contribution to the Federal
Samy Vellu should raise the PORR issue
in Cabinet tomorrow to review its bidding as it is highly flawed in being
against international best practices of good urban governance and public
integrity, consider the just and proper option of a re-bidding where the maximum
government support for PORR such as RM150 million federal government allocation
and the RM5 billion worth of 30-year toll collection, 31 ha of prime state land
and 202 ha of reclaimed land off Gurney Drive are
declared upfront and known to all interested bidders.
Furthermore, the Cabinet should
commission a full transportation masterplan to provide an efficient public transport system based on
sustainable transport policy to end the traffic congestion nightmare on the
As MCA and Gerakan leaders in Penang
have been claiming that PORR was a burden unfairly imposed on the Penang State
Government, Penang MCA and Penang
Gerakan by the Federal Government and UMNO , they should lobby the MCA and
Gerakan Ministers to take a strong stand to ask for a review of the PORR
project, not only with regard to the toll question but also the re-bidding, and
for a comprehensive transport masterplan to resolve the traffic congestion
nightmare on the Penang Island.