Gerakan In The News

Penang gov’t told to reveal development projects now in limbo

Nov 10, 2020

GEORGE TOWN: The Penang government has been urged to reveal the number of its infrastructure and redevelopment projects which risk being cancelled or stalled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Gerakan vice-president Datuk Baljit Singh today said that the prolonged pandemic is being used as an excuse by the developers of some state projects to either place them on the back-burner, or have them scrapped.

Baljit was commenting on New Straits Times’ article “Solaris quits pier redevelopment” today.

It was reported that the Penang Port Commission (PPC) will be calling for a request for proposal (RFP) for interested companies to develop disused godowns, as well as the Tanjung City Marina in George Town.

This follows news that Ideal United Bintang International Bhd’s subsidiary – Solaris Consortium Sdn Bhd – has pulled out from the RM98 million Swettenham Pier Cruise Terminal redevelopment project.

“Why is the PPC only disclosing this news now to the public when Solaris had reportedly pulled out from the project on Sept 1st this year?” said Baljit.

He added that the proposed project, at the time of its launch this year, was very ambitious and given so much hype by the state government, as it was meant to uplift the fortunes of the port area.

“Is the state compelling the developer to pay a penalty for backing down from this project?

“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?” he had queried.

Baljit said the state 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.

“These are the same errant developers who should be blacklisted from participating in future projects, as such a move will serve as a deterrent to other developers, contractors and future bidders,” he added.

Baljit also asked if the state authority is currently assessing which projects and developers should now be revisited or classified as “high-risk”, especially those which may be facing a pull-out of support by the banks.

“Just how many more RFPs are expected to be called owing to Covid-19 and the inability of developers to deliver on projects?” he said.

“Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow is accountable to the people of Penang for public projects such as these, especially after so much publicity has been generated for projects which were meant to generate more jobs and boost the state’s coffers.

“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,” Baljit said.

“Consideration now should 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.

“The time has come for the Penang state government to review and reduce its high dependence on the private sector in further developing Penang. It should also seek more dependable partners in progress for Penang’s economic betterment,” he said.