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Friday, February 2, 2018

Opening up a can of worms from Penang Undersea Tunnel project to Ayer Hitam ...

'In the very first place, does Penang really need an undersea tunnel and three main highways? Are the new infrastructures going to solve the congestion in Penang or bring in more vehicles?

THE trend for P148 looks promising and it will definitely be very hot.

No, I am not giving you any lucky numbers. P148 refers to Ayer Hitam parliamentary constituency in central Johor.

Ayer Hitam did not draw much attention before this. It is seen as a “safe seat” for Barisan Nasional, and has been held by MCA’s Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong for several terms.

Pakatan Harapan has allocated P148 to DAP. DAP, which was at first reluctant to contest there, told Amanah: “You can contest here under the DAP logo.”

It goes to show that DAP initially did not want to commit to a war it has no full confidence of winning.

But things have changed. Recently, DAP’s top leaders have upgraded the status of P148. Its adviser Lim Kit Siang said if (Pakatan) wants to take over Putrajaya, it has to wrestle Ayer Hitam.

People cannot really comprehend what the direct link is between Ayer Hitam and taking control of Putrajaya.

It would be easier to understand that the Opposition coalition is one step closer to Putrajaya if former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad wins Pulau Langkawi or Kubang Pasu.

But P148 Ayer Hitam? It is not the seat of (Prime Minister) Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, (Deputy Prime Minister) Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi or (Defence Minister) Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein. It is not special at all.

As for Dr Wee, it is still fresh on people’s minds that he has been aggressive in questioning the Penang undersea tunnel project.

Is DAP listing Ayer Hitam as their primary battleground because they want to topple Dr Wee? Does it want to take the MCA deputy president down because he has been critical of the project?

Is this a strategy to attack Dr Wee in order to save Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and force Dr Wee to stop harping on the tunnel project?

Or perhaps, it is an “act of revenge” to show Dr Wee some colours?

Frankly speaking, I don’t think Dr Wee will back off as he is known for his tough personality.

Quite the contrary, this will further boost his fighting will, prompting him to investigate the undersea tunnel issue further by diving 3km into the deep blue sea to seek answers.

From the people’s point of view, I think the focus should not be on the two personalities.

This does not have to be a battle between Guan Eng and Dr Wee. This should go beyond a spat between them.

It should be an issue of public interest. The public can analyse the case and be the judge.

DAP’s intention to conquer Ayer Hitam will bring the tunnel project issue to a bigger platform for it to be scrutinised and debated. This will be a positive development.

People are interested to know why the feasibility study and detailed designs for the undersea tunnel and three main roads would cost RM305mil.

A point to note is the feasibility study and detailed designs for the three main roads cost more than RM200mil.

A back-of-the-envelope calculation showed that the cost for every kilometre is about RM10mil, based on the total length of 20.3km.

The engineering industry said the cost was “extraordinarily high”. Is the feasibility study so detailed that it will find out how many worms there are in every inch of the land?

The construction cost of the undersea tunnel is RM3.6bil, with the feasibility study and detailed design priced at RM96mil.

Why is the feasibility study for the three roads higher than that of the tunnel when the roads are supposedly easier and cheaper to build?

Guan Eng insisted that not a single sen has been paid. But then, why has the state government transferred parcels of land to the investors involved?

With the exit of the builder from China and the entrance of a local fashion company (in the project’s special purpose vehicle), there is a change in the paid-up capital. This does not match the requirement set earlier. How will the state government handle this?

The reports have yet to be completed and the project has not yet started. Will the tunnel still be built? Penang state executive councillor Chow Kon Yeow said the three main roads would be built first but will this go against the overall concept of the project?

In the very first place, does Penang really need an undersea tunnel and three main highways? Are the new infrastructures going to solve the congestion in Penang or bring in more vehicles? Why doesn’t the state government build a metro rail? Wouldn’t it better suit the needs of Penangites?

From undersea tunnel to Ayer Hitam, a series of questions and doubts has emerged.

This should not be a dispute between Guan Eng and Dr Wee but an issue of public interest that ought to be explained and clarified.

By Tay Tian Yan, The Star - The writer is Sin Chew Daily deputy editor-in-chief..

Related Links:

Wee: Penang govt can no longer issue denial - Nation

Lim can no longer play dumb over Penang Undersea Tunnel project ...

Wee frustrated over lack of clarification by Penang govt on status of ...

NGOs: Rail link better, not tunnel - Nation

Lim told state assembly CRCC part of SPV, says Wee - Nation

'Paid-up capital only RM26.5m' - Nation

Wee: Lim must explain the 10% share as claimed - Nation

Penang CM refutes tunnel claims

CRCC did not ink contract, says Liow - Nation

Penang has enough roads and linkages, say activists - Nation

Tunnel project given to 82-day-old firm - Nation

Clear air once and for all, Wee tells Penang government - Nation

Penang govt confusing the public with conflicting claims, says Teng ...

Gerakan questions 'early promotion' of property - Nation

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