GEORGE TOWN – With its gaze set on the 15th general election, Penang Gerakan sees the state government’s apparent refusal to reconsider appeals to downscale the mammoth Penang South Reclamation (PSR) project as a major issue in the party’s favour.
This is among seven major points that Gerakan believes can sway voters’ sentiment and help propel it towards a more prominent check-and-balance role in the state.
State Gerakan chairman Oh Tong Keong said the party has no lofty ambition, but is keen to play a stepped-up role to keep in check alleged improprieties by the state administration, including its refusal to renegotiate the controversial reclamation on the island’s pristine southern coast.
The other points identified by Gerakan include the state government’s failure to deliver on its promises regarding public housing, the removal of toll collection in Sg Nyior, stopping the sale of land to developers, and resolving long-standing flood woes.
Oh said poverty, especially prevalent during the Covid-19 pandemic, is another important matter confronting the DAP-led Penang government.
He said the RM1 fee for plastic bags at shopping outlets has yet to resolve the issue of pollution, and that the state government is unduly using its machinery to distribute the Buletin Mutiara newsletter in residential areas, contributing to littering.
Gerakan hopes to provide checks and balances to the state administration for the public good, he said.
“A one-party government is dangerous. There is barely any debate in the state assembly – one suggestion, and everyone agrees,” he said, commenting on the opposition’s weak representation in the state legislature.
Gerakan, which led Penang from 1969 to 2008, has not held a single seat in the assembly since.
Pakatan Harapan components DAP, PKR and Amanah occupy 33 seats in the assembly, while Bersatu, PAS and Umno in the opposition hold seven.
Gerakan’s spirits have been bolstered by its acceptance into federal ruling coalition Perikatan Nasional on February 11.
Oh said many issues with the state administration started during DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng’s tenure as chief minister from 2008 to 2018.
“They have not fulfilled their manifesto to provide homes under the People’s Housing Project (PPR).”
When two chief ministers from Gerakan – the late Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu (1969-1990) and Tan Sri Koh Tsu Koon (1990-2008) – were in office, he said, PPR units were sold at affordable rates of RM35,000, RM42,000 and RM72,000.
There was even a successful rent-to-buy scheme, added Oh.
“Now, the cheapest affordable housing is RM400,000.
“The first car park (for each unit) is free, but the second will cost you RM50,000 or more.”
He accused the state administration of selling land to developers while claiming to be the “people’s government” during its campaigns.
“Now, they are becoming the developer’s government.”
He called for a stop to the distribution of Buletin Mutiara every fortnight to each household in the state.
“It costs a lot of money, and what happens to it? It lands in the rubbish bin, or worse still, as litter. Can’t they just utilise social media to disseminate (news) on what they are doing for Penang?”
If Gerakan wrests control of the state, he said, it will listen to the concerns aired by non-governmental organisations regarding the Penang Transport Master Plan, of which PSR is part.
“I hope Penangites will vote for us in the next general election, so that we can provide the checks and balances that the state really needs.” – The Vibes, February 27, 2021