BN moots Penang free port status if Pakatan ousted in GE13
GEORGE TOWN, May 15 — Penang Barisan Nasional (BN) has pledged to restore Penang’s free port status but only if it wrests the state from Pakatan Rakyat (PR) in the next general election.
Penang BN’s newly-appointed state chairman Teng Chang Yeow denied this was to “bait” voters. He said it was a “people-centric programme” to boost Penang’s services sector.
“I did not use the word ‘bait’,” he was quoted as saying in The Sun Daily. “This is a people-centric programme. It is not about baiting. The PM is ready to look into it positively.”
The Sun also reported Teng (picture) as saying that the matter had been discussed with Datuk Seri Najib Razak but no formal proposal had 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 development.
“Our plan is to narrow the development gap between the island and the mainland,” The Star quoted Teng as saying. “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.”
He said the federal government had to get behind the plan.
The Star reported Teng as saying that the plan could not be developed overnight but according to New Straits Times today, Teng said free port status could be restored “once we are government”.
According to the NST, when asked how DAP Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng had been going about restoring the state’s free port status, Teng replied: “If the chief minister wanted it, he should have asked for it four years ago, not now.
“Has he even prepared any plan on why it should be restored?,” NST quoted Teng as saying.
“Tourism in Penang has been on the decline and we need to make a breakthrough,” he said. “That is why we have prepared a master plan on which areas we need to look at if we want to see the state developed further.”