18 December 2020
MP SPEAKS | Penang ferry service saved by Zafrul’s rare confirmation
Published 3:25 pm
MP SPEAKS | The Penang ferry service was saved by the rare confirmation of Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz in Parliament on Dec 17 that the former finance minister had indeed imposed a condition on Penang Ports Sdn Bhd(PPSB) that the iconic Penang ferry service be continued in exchange for RM30 million cash payment.
In response to my speech in Parliament, Zafrul then went on to say that he would honour the previous commitment made by me, and that the condition of continuing the ferry service shall be complied with.
The 126-year old Penang ferry service has been saved by the proper conduct of Zafrul, in upholding the previous condition in writing made by me when I was the finance minister, that the ferry service must be continued. Unfortunately, Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong has chosen to do the opposite by being improper and obnoxious.
Wee continues to spread lies that I had made the decision to terminate and replace the ferry service with catamarans. Even Anthony Loke had recently denied making such a decision when he was the transport minister.
Can Wee show proof when and where both of us had decided to terminate the Penang ferry service? This is patently false.
Both Loke and I had repeatedly said we were not opposed to adding on catamarans provided that the existing ferry service be maintained.
We acknowledge its cost and difficulty of finding a suitable replacement and that is why we insisted that the few ferries remaining be allowed to operate.
In other words, the catamarans will be operating in parallel with the existing ferry services as being practiced by many countries such as Hong Kong or Canada, a co-existence of heritage and modernity.
This is unlike the Transport Ministry and Penang Port Commission(PPC) under the new PN federal government, which decided to terminate the ferry service outright on Dec 31, without any sentiment for its unique historic and heritage value.
PPC chairperson Tan Teck Cheng said the car carrying ferries will be replaced by water buses on Jan 1, 2021. Tan even said that the decision to terminate the 126-year-old ferries was driven by statistics and economics, rather than emotions or politics.
Clearly, Penangites were “betrayed” by the dirty politics of MCA leaders in the Transport Ministry and PPC in unilaterally terminating the Penang ferry services.
Tan has even lamented in the Chinese press at the U-turn announced by Zafrul in Parliament continuing the iconic Penang ferries and even questioned whether Zafrul had made a wrong decision.
Has MCA not given up hope of terminating the Penang ferry services?
This highlights the stark difference in MCA and Pakatan Harapan in Penang, where only Harapan is committed to the well-being of the rakyat, its unique heritage and the opinion of the rakyat.
I will ensure that Harapan stays vigilant against the dirty politics of MCA and ensure that the Penang ferry services can be saved come Jan 1, 2021.
LIM GUAN ENG is Bagan MP, former finance minister, and former Penang chief minister.
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