PCCC Fully Support Penang Transport Master Plan
PCCC Fully Support Penang Transport Master Plan- PTMP Should be Put Into Action Expeditiously
Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce (PCCC) appreciates and welcomes the recent efforts by Penang State Government to conduct of public briefings on Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP). These briefing sessions give the relevant organizations, various stakeholders and public a better understanding on the detailed information of the whole project. PCCC opines that holding of these briefings shows that the Penang State Government’s policy is more transparent and this is to be commended.
According to the understanding of PCCC, the RM27-billion PTMP encompassed the followings: -
· Light rail transit (LRT)
· undersea tunnel
· Pan Island Link Highway
· South Reclamation Scheme
We urge the relevant organizations, groups and Penang people to make the best use of PTMP briefings and view the PTMP with an open mind and from a positive and constructive perspective. In this regard, we are of the view that Penang’s infrastructure needs to be urgently enhanced and up-graded. If the infrastructure falls behind time and development, then our economy will also be adversely affected.
After George Town was listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2008, tourists from all around the world have flocked to Penang and the traffic volume has increased tremendously. Traffic congestion has become an imminent problem requires immediate solution from the government. On a positive note, this phenomenon shows that Penang has good foundation to embrace itself for economic transformation and diversification, i.e. to tap into the lucrative service industry.
There is no doubt that in the past five years, Penang has received increasing international recognition, with awards and accolade won one after another, including: -
1) In 2009, Penang was voted 2nd by New York Times Readers in “The 44 Places To Go”.
2) In 2010, Penang was placed 8th in ECA International's ranking of Asia's most liveable cities.
3) In 2013, CNNGo voted Penang one of Asia's 10 greatest street food cities.
4) 22 February 2013, Yahoo announced Penang as 8 Great Places to Retire Abroad, Penang was picked as 4th Great Places to Retire Abroad, and the only one selected in Asia city.
5) In 2013, ECA recognised Penang as 8 most liveable cities in Asia and topped the economic ranking among major cities in Malaysia.
6) 3 January 2014, George Town ranked as 8th among the world’s top 40 holiday hotspots for 2014 by UK-based The Guardian newspaper and topped the economic ranking among major cities in Malaysia.
7) 4 February 2014, Lonely Planet picks Penang as top spot for foodies in 2014. "must tries" were char kway teow, Hokkien mee, and asam laksa, according to the report.
8) 12 March 2014, Penang listed as 10th in “Top 10 Selfie Town” by Magazine TIME.
9) 27 October 2015, Penang's Georgetown named No. 4 in Lonely Planet's list of top 10 cities for travel.
10) 3 March 2016, Penang named the 2nd best place in the world to retire by travel magazine Conde Nast Travelleré, and the only one selected in Asia city.
These achievements and honours are not an easy task, it will not fall from the sky; on the contrary, it is achieved through the efforts and risk taking of the government and people over the years.
As a responsible government, the State Government needs to actively plan for the future. We also see that Penang’s economic development must be transformed from the past manufacturing driven economy into a service-oriented economy.
In this regard, we can learn from Father of Modern Penang, Tun Dr. Lim Chong Eu. We just cite three examples :-
1) When Dr. Lim took over as the Chief Minister, Penang 's economy was in a recession after losing the island's free port status. Fortunately, with Dr. Lim’s great foresight, he actively developed industrial zones in the state, brought in multinational companies to invest and set up factories to create job opportunities for the state and opened a new economic scenery.
2) The construction of the Penang Bridge which was opened for usage in 1985.
3) The overall planning of water supply in Penang including the construction of dams which has resulted in people of Penang enjoying uninterrupted water supply with the most affordable pricing in Malaysia.
All the above projects were facing numerous challenges and objections at the planning stage and subsequently at the implementation stage. The people of Penang is lucky to have leader like Tun Dr. Lim who was courageous despite facing formidable criticism. The facilities enjoyed by the people of Penang are the result of the courage shown by the leadership of the like of Tun. Dr. Lim.
With the progress of the times and changes in the international environment, Penang could not be isolated and alone, we must have good strategies and plans to follow the pace of development of the times and trends in order to avoid being eliminated.
For this reason also, PCCC fully support the State Government’s PTMP. We opine that PTMP is a grand vision worthy of support, it shows the foresight of the State Government. We believe that, in order to cater for the needs of Penang economic development and also in coordinate with economic transformation, we must not remain static and make no progress. We believe that the government will incorporate all constructive feedbacks and combine with professional expertise to put this program into action in the short term. Any project which is look forward by the people should be carried out immediately.
In this regard, we urge the State Government not to subject to populist pressures. In a democratic society, civil society organizations could certainly comment on issues of people's livelihood, however, we find that some civil society organizations tend to against almost every kind of development, create serious internal friction, waste of resources and time and this has hinder government’s efforts to promote economic development.
We also urge the authorities and the people to take as a reference the situation in Taiwan as an example. The length of the airport MRT from Taoyuan Airport to Taipei is just 51 kilometers, however after twenty years’ of construction, the MRT has yet to come to fruition. The turtle pace of development step has caused the overall construction cost to soar and more seriously it hinders economic development. The ultimate victims are the innocent civilians.
Finally, we once again would like to urge the Penang people and relevant organizations to adopt a constructive and positive perspective regarding the development within the state. They should consider the overall interests of the entire state. If any party is affected by the development, they will also be protected and compensated under the laws.