Deliver old pledges before making new ones, DAP tells Penang BN
KUALA LUMPUR, May 15 — Penang DAP leader Liew Chin Tong today told Penang Barisan Nasional (BN) to first make good its old promises to voters before issuing new ones, like its latest pledge to restore the state’s free port status.
The Bukit Bendera MP demanded the pact reveal the status of its old pledges to Penang folk by the federal government, including former prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s 2006 announcement of three “gifts” — the Second Bridge, a monorail and an outer ring road.
“We will not enter into the debate about whether a monorail or an outer ring road are the best solutions to Penang’s transportation woes but the people of Penang deserve an answer on the status of those ‘gifts’ in order to be sure that the new pledges would be honoured,” he said.
He added in a press statement that in June 2010, Abdullah’s successor Datuk Seri Najib Razak had promised to provide 200 new buses to increase Rapid Penang’s fleet from 350 to 550.
But, claimed Liew, the government has yet to fulfil this pledge.
“This is the only promise made by the federal government to Penang since the general election of 2008 and it does not cost more than RM100 million. Yet even such a small pledge was not honoured. Can BN be trusted for its bigger promises?” he said.
Several newspapers reported today that Penang BN would pursue restoring the state’s free port status, which was abolished in 1969, should it wrest power from Pakatan Rakyat (PR) in the next election.
The pact’s newly-appointed state chairman Teng Chang Yeow, however, denied this was to “bait” voters ahead of the crucial polls, instead countering it is a “people-centric programme”, which seeks to boost Penang’s services sector.
“I did not use the word ‘bait’. This is a people-centric programme. It is not about baiting. The PM is ready to look into it positively,” he was quoted as saying by The Sun Daily.
The daily also reported Teng as saying that discussions on the matter have been held with Najib but no formal proposal has been submitted as yet.
According to The Star, the proposal to restore Penang’s free port status, which was abolished in 1969, was a part of Penang BN’s “alternative blueprint” for the state’s future development.
“Our plan is to narrow the development gap between the island and the mainland. The services sector will be the new engine of growth for the island, which should be developed as an international tourism hub in the fields of medicine, entertainment, sports and education.
“This will result in more job opportunities and higher incomes.
“To do this, we need to be a free port and if Barisan forms the state government, we will work towards restoring the status,” Teng was quoted as saying by the daily.
He also pointed out that implementing such a plan would require backing from the federal government.
But Liew said today that even if the state remains in the hands of PR, Penang folk continue to pay taxes to the federal government and should therefore be entitled to benefits and allocations granted to other BN-led states.
Liew also asked Teng to state if he agreed that the Penang Port should remain in public hands or be privatised under tycoon Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Albukhary.
“The latter intends to turn Penang Port into a mere feeder port for his other ports in Johor, which would effectively spell the end of Penang Port,” he said.