Having conceded that his PORR briefings last month were a "flop", Tsu
Koon should adopt four measures if he wants to "lend more credibility" to
the implementation of the RM1.02 billion PORR project
by Lim Kit Siang
New Straits Times yesterday carried the front-page headline report that the
Penang State Government would engage a panel of impartial experts to "lend
more credibility" to the implementation of the controversial RM1.02 billion
Penang Outer Ring Road (PORR) project.
The panel, which would comprise professionals, including engineers, soil
experts, economists and environmental specialists, "with no links to or
business interests" in the project, would provide the government independent
advice from a pool of experts on the social, environmental and economic
impact of the PORR project.
The NST quoted sources as saying that the Penang State Executive Council had
discussed the matter and a decision is expected soon, "as it is in the State
Government's best interests to appoint the expert body as soon as possible".
Such an "independent panel" is putting the cart before the horse, although
there can be no more powerful admission of the failure of the series of
"closed-door" briefings which the Penang Chief Minister, Tan Sri Dr. Koh Tsu
Koon conducted from 11 to 14 January last month to defend the transparency,
viability and good urban governance of the RM1.02 billion Penang Outer Ring
Road (PORR) project.
Tsu Koon not only failed to convince anyone on the PORR project, with the
Central Ad Hoc No PORR Committee pronouncing that his briefings were
"flawed", he highlighted his greatest failure in his decade-long tenure as
Penang Chief Minister - the failure to introduce an integrated, affordable,
user-friendly and efficient public transport system for Penang to end the
island's traffic congestion nightmare in broad daylight.
Having conceded that his PORR briefings last month were a
"flop", Tsu Koon should adopt four measures if he wants to "lend more
credibility" to the implementation of the RM1.02 billion PORR project, viz:
Suspend the PORR project to allow for a comprehensive public
consultation process, whereby the entire gamut of Penang opinion on PORR can
have their full say with satisfactory responses from the government;
Public release of the detailed Environment Impact Assessment (EIA)
of PORR for public scrutiny and comments.
Public Release of the Halcrow Penang Urban Transport Study
commissioned by the Penang State Government in 1997 - a comprehensive review
of transportation policy and transport provision in the state - which raises
questions about PORR's viability and compatibility with sustainable
transport and whether the RM1.02 billion 17.8 km PORR would have an utility
life-span of less than five years to create one or two Midas at the cost of
imposing a 30-year toll burden on the people of Penang.
Removal or resignation of Datuk Ahmad Ismail, the executive
chairman of PORR concessionaire Peninsular Metroworks Sdn. Bhd (PMWSB) and
Bukit Bendera UMNO division chairman, from the Penang Island Municipal
Council (MPPP). Ahmad's appointment as MPPP Super-Councillor, followed by
his appointment as MPPP Building and Planning Committee alternate chairman
and member of the Licensing Committee, Property Committee, Infrastructure
and Traffic Management Committee is a living symbol of the Penang State
Government's contempt for the principles of accountability, transparency,
good urban governance as well as conflict of interest in the MPPP.
If Tsu Koon cannot remove or get Ahmad to resign from the MPPP
to end the greatest advertisement of the utter lack of good urban governance
in the state and municipality, then it is another confirmation as to who
wields the de facto political power in Penang.
Lim Kit Siang, DAP National