(Penang, Friday): Penang Chief Minister, Tan Sri Dr. Koh Tsu Koon had
repeatedly said that the RM1.02
billion 17.8 km Penang Outer Ring Road (PORR) project is not a “hush-hush
thing” which cannot
“see the light of day’”, but the
Penang State Government has still to deliver its pledge of transparency on the PORR project and to bring it out from its
present thick shroud of secrecy.
The short, unsatisfactory and non-interactive 10-day exhibition
on the PORR alignment by the Malaysian Highway Authority is a far cry from the
public undertaking given by Tsu Koon and other State Executive Councillors that
the State Government would hear the views of the people of Penang on all aspects
of the PORR project and would
organize forums, discussions and dialogues.
For instance, the State Works, Public Amenities and
Transport Committee Chairman Datuk Koay Kar Hoah said in March that the
government would soon make public
details of the PORR project.
“We are still preparing answers to questions which may arise
concerning the project. We want to be prepared to give a full and clear
explanation to the people before releasing the details.
“Chief Minister, Tan Sri Dr. Koh
Tsu Koon had told me that most probably the full details will be made public in
a month’s time.” (Star 11.3.02)
It is therefore most shocking to read in today’s press
the statement by the Deputy Chief Minister, Datuk Dr. Hilmi Yahaya that
the Penang State Government was “preparing to surrender vacant
possession” of six parcels of land totaling 31 ha to Peninsular Metroworks Sdn
Bhd, the company which has been awarded the PORR concession (The
Star), when the State government had not honoured
its pledge of transparency to give “full and clear explanation” by releasing
the “full details” of the PORR project to the people of Penang.
This is all wrong and totally against the principles of
accountability and good governance, breaking faith with the people of Penang and
dishonouring the state
government’s public pledge to be transparent to release the “full details”
of the PORR project as well as to
give serious consideration to public representations before a final decision is
made on the PORR project!
What has happened to all the months of preparation by the
State Government to answer the
public about the various aspects of the PORR project as disclosed by Koay two
months ago, or have all these precious government time gone to waste because Tsu
Koon has decided to back out from
his pledge of full transparency on the PORR project?
If the State Government starts surrendering the six parcels
of prime state land to Peninsular Metroworks Sdn. Bhd even before the completion
of the public consultation process, it makes
nonsense of government transparency and commitment to the public
consultation of the people of Penang on the PORR project.
For this reason, the Penang Chief Minister must give an
assurance that the State Government would not surrender any piece of government
land to PORR concessionaire until and unless the Penang State Assembly has given
formal approval to the project by way of a formal motion.
It is wrong for anyone to claim that if there is support
from ten Assemblymen, the State Assembly could be forced to hold an emergency
debate on the PORR project or any other issue.
The Penang State Assembly Standing Order 30 on motion of
urgent definite public importance is similar to Standing Order 18 of the Dewan
Rakyat on the same matter.
Under the Penang State Assembly Standing Order 30 , an
Assemblyman can move the adjournment of the House to debate a matter of urgent,
definite public importance if the Speaker is satisfied that the three elements
of “definite, urgent and of public importance”
have been complied with. However,
such a debate can still be blocked at this stage, if there is any member
of House objecting, in which case, at least ten Members must “rise in their
places to support the request” to overcome the obstacle and for the emergency
motion to be debated.
Parliament has the same provision on “motion for
adjournment to discuss urgent matter of public importance”, except that if
there is any MP objecting to a debate despite the Speaker being satisfied that
the motion satisfies the three elements of “definite, urgent and of public
importance”, 15 MPs are required to remove the obstacle and for the emergency
motion to be held.
It would really be fantastic if all that is required is for
10 Assemblymen to agree to an emergency debate in the Penang State Assembly, for
the DAP would have been able to have daily emergency debates in the Penang State
Assembly after the 1990 general election when DAP had 13 to 14 members.
Or in Parliament, there would be daily emergency debates by
the Opposition, if all that is needed are 15 MPs to support it, as Parliament at
present has a combined total of 42
However, both the people of Penang as well as all Penang
State Assemblymen should insist that in view of the importance and far-reaching
consequences of the PORR project, the State Assembly must have the final say in
the approval of the PORR project before any work is allowed to start on the
As the Penang State Government has not yet fulfilled its
undertaking to hold forums, discussions and dialogues on the PORR project, DAP
invites Tsu Koon and Hilmi to the DAP dialogue on PORR at the Cheah Association,
Pangkor Road on Sunday, 2nd June 2002 at 1 p.m., as the people of
Penang, those directly affected whether homes, heritage buildings,
temples or ancient shrines
which have to make way for PORR as well as
all Penangites who would be affected as a result of a 30-year toll
burden, are entitled to answers to the teeming questions about the PORR project.
Let Tsu Koon and Hilmi come to the Sunday dialogue with all
relevant studies about the Penang traffic nightmare and documentation related to PORR, including:
should also come fully armed to answer questions, such as:
Finally, Tsu Koon
and Helmi should give an assurance that the State Government would not surrender
any state land to Peninsular
Metroworks unt`il the State Assembly has formally approved the project by way of