Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Penang NGOs Must Adopt a Common Platform on the RM6.3 billion Highways/Tunnel Project

When engaging with a hostile and authoritative government, it is wise for NGOs to stand together and adopt a common platform spelling out clear objectives, counter arguments and alternative solutions to replace the projects which are deemed not beneficial to the stakeholders they represent.

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng has warned members of the public to be wary about NGOs that have adopted the BN line in opposing the proposed RM6 billion integrated road system.

"Some so-called independent NGOs have adopted the BN line and aligned themselves with the BN - you know which organisations these are, they are playing on the sentiments of the people," Lim said at the launch of the Bukit Bendera election centre last night.

"We invited them to come and talk, we had dialogues since 2011; they never attended once and yet they criticise us for doing these projects in a rushed manner," he added.

It was reported that the formal agreement for the (Transport Masterplan) TMP was signed in mid 2011. In the same week, the CM announced the signing of MOUs for four major road projects with Chinese companies. This could be the sore point why some NGOs had refused to attend any dialogues with the state government. 

CAP president SM Mohamed Idris was quoted to have said; “In any case, a meeting will be futile and not serve any purpose since, according to press reports, the state government has already awarded the project to a private company despite opposition from many NGOs."

Penang Forum has voiced its displeasure on the manner the highways and tunnel projects were tendered and awarded before the conclusion of the TMP. It asks; "Does it make sense to have the solution before the study has started? Does this not ignore evidenced based analysis and policies?"

Earlier, CM Lim Guan Eng has insisted that the projects, consisting of an undersea tunnel connecting the island (Gurney Drive) to the mainland (Bagan Ajam) and three highways, be implemented despite protests and criticisms by NGOs. Lim said his coalition (PR) is willing to lose votes over the RM6.3 billion mega project.

The CAP president is right, it may be futile to attend any dialogues with the state government if the CM has taken such a strong position on the projects. 

Those who are unhappy with the projects have given their clear and comprehensive reasons to reject them:

1. Any policy decisions must be based on evidence and thorough analysis. Any long term solutions to address congestion problems must be decided holistically by considering all aspects, issues, challenges and needs.

2. Large scale infrastructure projects should be put through rigorous feasibility studies, DEIA assessments, traffic impact assessment, density and development projections and cost benefit analysis to ensure that they are viable and appropriate. 

3. Politicians should start to accept the new political reality in the country. A two-party system would not have been a reality and a success if both coalitions continue to bicker and sabotage each other long after the voters have given them a mandate to share power. 

4. Any policy decisions should taken and implemented with the best interest of the people these policies are supposed to serve. 

5. Any government of the day must not attempt to use its electoral advantage or super majority to try to push through any projects which are ultimately using public resources. 

6. In line with the FOI and CAT pledges, the state government should make available all information and data to any parties/persons who wish to gather more understanding of the public projects.  

Like any other political parties, CM Lim's party had joined hands and collaborated with NGOs all over the country to protest against projects supported by or approved by the BN federal government. It is ironic for him to allege that these NGOs are dangerous and hostile if they are really working with the state Opposition to protest against the projects. Aren't this the modus operandi of the Dap too?

I would like to urge all NGOs who are against the RM6.3 billion highways/tunnel project to create a common platform to address the issue. This is necessary to ensure that they are not being subdued, subjugated and pressured into submission by powers directly controlled by the state. 

Those who are against and for the projects are welcomed to attend a public dialogue:

"A Vision For An International Livable City", - A TUNNEL AT LIVABLE GURNEY ?

DATE & TIME: 27 MARCH 2013, 8PM


TEL 04 2271926


Dr Lim Mah Hui Phd. MPPP councilor


Professor Jimmy Lim
esteemed architect, former PAM PRESIDENT
winner of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture



Anonymous said...

I do not disagree with construction of the Undersea Tunnel which is not necessary now or in the future. Since Lim Guan Eng will take the coming election winning as an endorsement to build the Undersea Tunnel, for sure he will not get my vote. My love for Penang Island is much more than one million Lim Guan Eng put together and I do not want any politician to mass up our lovely Island. If the people of Penang can displace the late Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu who have done a marvelous job for Penang, what is so difficult to get rid of Lim Guan Eng, moreover he is an outsider who done so little for Penang for the last five years.

Anonymous said...

I would like to call upon CM Lim Guan Eng to immediately cease and desist his BN style hostile approach in shoving his public policies down Penangites throats or he will not get me and my family's votes.

Anonymous said...

NGOs will cause the fall of Penang state and bring in the corrupt Gerakan, I mean UMNO-led Penang government. Penangites must stand together to ensure NGOs don't object for the sake of being anti-development. NGOs doesn't represent us Penangites. We elect leaders to run this state, NGOs are not even elected.