1. Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow must disclose how many infrastructure or redevelopment projects in the state risk being cancelled or put on the back burner, seemingly due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
2. Gerakan vice-president Dato Baljit Singh is concerned that the prolonged pandemic is being used as a convenient excuse by developers of these projects to either stall or have them scrapped.
3. As a point of reference, Baljit cited an English daily report (New Straits Times, Business 10 Nov 2020) that the Penang Port Commission (PPC) will be calling for a request for proposal (RFP) for interested companies to develop the disused godowns as well as the Tanjung City Marina in George Town.
4. This follows the news this week that Ideal United Bintang International Bhd’s subsidiary – Solaris Consortium Sdn Bhd – has pulled out from the Swettenham Pier Cruise Terminal redevelopment project.
5. Why is the PPC only disclosing this news now to the public when Solaris had reportedly pulled out from the project on September 1st this year?
6. The RM98 million cited for the project at the time it was launched was very ambitious and so much of hype was given to the development which meant to uplift the fortunes of the port area.
7. Is the state compelling the developer to pay a penalty for backing down from this project?
8. Is an audit being carried out by the state now over other projects which were supposed to be carried out by this developer and others for projects which will be stalled or cancelled?
9. Are the authorities currently accessing which are the projects and developers which should now be revisited or classified “high-risk”, especially those which may be facing a pullout of support by the banks?
10. The state government should penalise developers for pulling out of projects, failing to deliver on promises and wasting the time and effort of many parties including government agencies.
11. These are the same errant developers who should be blacklisted from participating in future projects.
12. Such a move will serve as a deterrent to other developers, contractors and future bidders.
13. How many more RFPs are expected to be called owing to Covid-19 and the inability of developers to deliver on projects?
14. The Chief Minister is accountable to the people of Penang for public projects such as these, especially after so much of publicity has been generated for projects which were meant to generate more jobs and boost the state’s coffers.
15. The Covid-19 pandemic has undoubtedly resulted in many businesses and individuals needing to pivot themselves and move with the times, by being innovative and doing all they can to survive.
16. Consideration should also be given to developers with not only sound and solid track records, but those who have been with the state through thick and thin, and not those to step in during good times, and exit when things get bad.
17. The time has come for the Penang state government to review and reduce its high dependance on the private sector in further developing Penang. It should also seek more dependable partners in progress for Penang’s economic betterment.
18. A full and critical audit of state-owned assets and their potential must be carried out without further delay, bearing in mind minimal use and obligation towards businesses as “crutches” to take Penang forward.