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Showing posts with label Chow Kon Yeow. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chow Kon Yeow. Show all posts

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Golden opportunity for DAP leaders to practise what they preached


In May this year, we voted for a change of government at both state and federal levels after 61 years of suffering under the yoke of Umno and its partners. We voted for hope and change.

The Pakatan Harapan (PH) parties went from being in the opposition to becoming the government of the day. When they were opposition politicians they could only voice their objections and concerns. But today they are in power to carry out what they hoped and fought for. Are they carrying out the trust that we placed in them?

Let us examine this in relation to the biggest project confronting the people of Penang (also one of the largest mega projects in Malaysia): the RM46 billion Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP), and more immediately, phase 1 of this plan – the proposed Penang Island Link 1 (PIL 1) and the LRT project. The PIL 1 is an extension of the aborted Penang Outer Ring Road (PORR).

What did our present Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow say when he was the opposition MP in 2002? “If the findings of the Halcrow Report are true, Dr Koh would be irresponsible in pushing the PORR through as this will not be a long-term solution to the traffic congestion on the island…”

There were two other minor reasons why Chow opposed the PORR: because it was a tolled road and no open tender was used to award the project. But these cannot be the main reasons for opposing it.

And what did Lim Kit Siang say on May 28, 2002?

“The nightmare of the Penang traffic congestion is likely to be back to square one, not in eight years but probably less than five years, after the completion of PORR.

“What Penang needs is an efficient public transport system based on sustainable transport policy, as PORR is not a medium-term let alone long-term solution to the traffic congestion nightmare on the island.”

Since these two DAP leaders could not be clearer on why they opposed construction of the PORR as it would not solve traffic problems, how does Chow now justify the PIL 1?

According to the environmental impact assessment (EIA) of the PIL 1, the consultants reported that by 2030 (between five and seven years after completion of PIL 1), traffic volume will reach up to 8,000 pcu/hour (passenger car unit) during evening peak hours.

Translated into layman’s terms, we would be back to square one in terms of traffic congestion. This was exactly what the transport report of 1998 by international consultant Halcrow said of PORR. Back then, Chow asked Koh Tsu Koon (then Penang’s chief minister) to disprove Halcrow’s findings. Today we ask Chow the same question.

Public policy must be based on scientific study, analysis and evidence, not on whims and fancies. (That is why the Penang state government funds the Penang Institute to provide sound policy analysis and advice.) If the EIA’s conclusion is that the PIL 1 will not solve traffic congestion in the medium and long term, then the chief minister must justify to the people of Penang on what other grounds he based his decision to spend RM8 billion on one highway that will not solve Penang’s traffic congestion and is fraught with safety risks, on top of financial, environmental, social and health costs. How should he explain his volte-face?

Lim Kit Siang made it clear that the only alternative is to have an efficient public transport system. This is a golden opportunity for these leaders to implement what they preached. The chief minister said at a town hall meeting on Sept 20 that the state is proposing a balanced approach to solving the transport problem: building roads and public transport.

Let us examine the actual facts.

1. Penang island presently has 2.8 times more highways on a per capita basis than Singapore (84m per 1,000 persons in Penang versus 30m per 1,000 persons in Singapore).

2. The state government under the PTMP is planning to build another 70km of highways, many of them elevated, marring the city landscape and thereby doubling our highway per capita to 4.5 times that of Singapore.

3. Presently Penang’s public modal share of transport is dismal at 5%, i.e., only 5% of people who travel use public transport, compared to 67% in Singapore.

From the above, it is clear that Penang’s transport situation today is totally tilted towards roads and against public transport. Hence a balanced approach must mean prioritising improvement of public transport and not the construction of more highways that encourage more private road use.

The primary objective of the PTMP is to raise public modal transport share to 40% by 2030. But spending RM15 billion on building highways in the first phase of the PTMP (RM8 billion on PIL 1 plus RM6.5 billion on the three paired roads and tunnel under the Zenith package) and RM8 billion on one LRT line is NOT a balanced approach.

In fact, under the Halcrow PTMP, an integrated public transport network consisting of trams, bus rapid transit, commuter rail and a new cross-channel ferry service was estimated to cost RM10 billion. But all these are shelved or relegated to future dates while priority is given to building highways. The chief minister must explain to the people of Penang why such an unbalanced approach is adopted. Is the policy based on scientific evidence or on other types of interests that we are unaware of?

The saying that “justice must not only be done but must be seen to be done” aptly applies in this case. The people of Penang must have clear and credible answers to dispel any possible misgivings.

I respect and have worked with Chow for the last 10 years on the Penang transport issue.

I recall what he told Koh: that if the findings of the EIA report are true then Koh would be irresponsible in pushing the PORR.

Now, in the case of PIL 1, the arguments are even stronger that this will not be a long-term solution to the traffic congestion on the island.

Source: FMT by Lim Mah Hui

Lim Mah Hui is a former professor, international banker and Penang Island city councillor.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Penang new Chief Minister taking Penang to the next level

https://youtu.be/mdtJqsLapZU/

Man with a plan: Chow elaborating on his vision for Penang during an interview with The Star at Komtar in George Town.
Man with a plan: Chow elaborating on his vision for Penang during an interview with The Star at Komtar in George Town.   


https://youtu.be/lLfYJvX5ePk

New CM Chow has a clear vision of how to develop the state into the next five years

 

"Economic growth with environmental sustainability would be an ideal situation rather than sacrificing the envoronment for the sake of development - Chow Kon Yeow"


GEORGE TOWN: It’s easy to understand why Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow is such a popular figure in Penang despite hailing from Kuala Lumpur.

Holding the exco portfolio of Local Government, Traffic Manage­ment and Flood Mitigation for the last two terms here was not an easy task, but Chow’s simple, frugal and austere ways won over the people and even his harshest critics.

Now he is in the hot seat as the chief executive. Here, he shares his thoughts on his plans to move Penang up another notch over the next five years, as well as personal and party matters. Below is an excerpt from the Q&A:

How are you keeping after more than two weeks into the top post in Penang?

It’s a continuation of where I left off for 10 years as a state executive councillor in 2008. At the Chief Minister’s office, I deal with a wider range of issues than my portfolios under Local Govern­ment, Traffic Management and Flood Mitigation, which were more focused.

As Chief Minister, I also have to look into investment and economic issues, besides being chairman of Penang Development Corporation, PBA Holdings Bhd and other state statutory bodies.

Which plans do you intend to see through in your first term?

Upon taking office on May 14, I took up the Transport portfolio because I intend to see to the implementation of at least some of the projects under the Penang Trans­port Master Plan (PTMP). It is too ambitious to say that we will implement all the projects, but they will be a priority.

On the projects by Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd (CZC) comprising the RM6.43bil undersea tunnel and three paired roads, we will likely begin construction for one of the three major roads.

As for SRS Consortium, the project delivery partner of PTMP, we will start the Light Rail Transit (LRT) project. Since it is tied to Penang South Reclamation (PSR) in the southern coast of Penang island, the reclamation of three man-made islands will have to start as well to finance the LRT project.

(The PSR is a massive plan to reclaim three islands totalling 1,800ha off the southern coast of Penang island. The success of PTMP, the state government’s multi-billion ringgit public transport project involving LRT, monorail, cable cars and water taxis, depends on funding from property development on the islands.)

One important element here is that people see the reclamation as solely financing the infrastructure projects, which is true in a sense. The man-made islands will not only finance the infrastructure projects, but the lands made available will help meet the development needs of Penang for the next 30 years.

It is near to the Bayan Lepas industrial electronic and electrical cluster. Taking it away from the cluster will not produce the synergy effect.

And preferably, the expansion of our industrial zone into the future must also be near to the cluster and Penang International Airport facilities.

So we can safely say that the three man-made islands are a sure thing?So we can safely say that the three man-made islands are a sure thing? /b>

It is subject to review by the Federal Government. We need approval from the Federal Govern­ment for any large-scale project and the reclamation is one of them. It has to be approved by the National Physical Planning Council. If we can get all the necessary reports to support our application, it will be tabled at the National Physical Planning Council for approval.

You said the LRT component of PTMP is your priority. When can we expect to see it materialise?

We have made a submission to the Land Public Transport Commis­sion (SPAD) since March 2016 for a railway scheme.

Besides the LRT line from Komtar to Bayan Lepas, we have also submitted the other alignment as a full package, as our depot will be built on one of the man-made islands that has yet to be reclaimed. We are still waiting for the environment impact assessment approval.

I believe our application is still active. Hopefully, it will be brought before the Transport Ministry for deliberation and approval.

Previously, it was either an undersea tunnel or a third bridge to link Bagan Ajam and Gurney Drive. What will it be now? It is still too early to say. We can always make changes because of the cost factor. There is no firm decision on this. CZC will have to complete the feasibility studies first, which are now at 96%.

There is no hurry because even if we were to build the undersea tunnel, it would only take off in 2023.

Right now, CZC’s priority is to start building the 5.7km paired roads starting from Jalan Kampung Pisang in Ayer Itam and connecting with the Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Express­way in Gelugor. It is one of the three major roads undertaken by CZC.

What are your thoughts on the claims that CZC paid RM22mil to cover up anti-graft investigations on the mega project comprising the undersea tunnel and three paired roads?

It is entirely up to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate, as it has nothing to do with the state government. We are not the approving authorities.

The concession companies ap­pointed by us are responsible for getting all the approval. What CZC told us was that it was basically political extortion. They were under great duress and had no choice but to believe that the other party could help smooth the process of getting the necessary approval.

This had nothing to do with the state government and we had no prior knowledge of it until it was reported in the media.

Penangites have been plagued by floods on some occasions. What are your plans to resolve this?

The first phase of Sungai Pinang Flood Mitigation project was completed in the late ‘90s and it never went beyond that. This project has been delayed for 18 years.

We need about RM600mil to resolve the problem. The money can be used to build a barrage along the river near the People’s Housing Project in Sungai Pinang. If there is a barrage, backflow from the sea during high tide would not flow inland.

Other components include the construction of pump houses, retention ponds, collector drains along the river, deepening of rivers and the raising of bunds. All these measures are expected to be completed in three and a half years.

We believe these measures will help mitigate floods. All designs can only cater to a certain capacity, so we cannot say that there will be no floods after this.

It is important to secure approval and funding from the Federal Gov­ernment. The Sungai Pinang Flood Mitigation project is vital because it has impact upstream, as there are six tributaries linked to Sungai Pinang.

Many hillslope developments have taken shape, especially in the Tanjung Bungah area, which has drawn concern from environmental activists. What is your take on this?

The current state government will not change the tight guideline of restricting development 76m or 250ft above sea level, although the national guideline can go up to 500ft. The guideline is very restrictive as it will prevent a lot of hill lands from being developed.

This guideline only came into place under the Penang Structure Plan approved in 2007. Before that, approval had already been given to certain developments we can’t stop abruptly. Under this category, there are many projects approved that went beyond the restriction.

I will get the Penang Island City Council to brief me on how much land is still left that is restricted by the guideline. If there is not much land left, we will consider that the guideline will prohibit hillside deve­lopment in the future.

If the guideline is still in place, the people of Penang must confront the fact that there won’t be any development beyond this guideline. Land will become expensive. If there is no reclamation, what will the future hold for Penang island?

Gentrification is an issue in George Town, with foreigners snapping up properties within the Heritage zone. What do you think of this?

Prior to interest in our heritage buildings and before the inscription of the Unesco World Heritage Site, there were a few hundred houses in need of refurbishment. Some houses collapsed during storms.

If you look at the heritage site today, there are few dilapidated houses left due to the interest in heritage properties. The owners have greater appreciation of their value.

My personal stance is to save the house first. If there are buyers, we should save the buildings and negotiate on their use later.

The Opposition in Penang is down to only three representatives – two from Umno and one from PAS. Will they be given any allocation?

They will be given allocation, although the figure may not be the same as the Government’s assemblymen. They rejected it last time, thinking that we were setting a trap on them.

Previously we offered them RM40,000 in annual allocation, but it will be more this time. The funds can be used to support the community, as well as assist organisations in their work and in getting facilities such as fax machines. The funds are meant for the people.

The Opposition is weak in the state assembly. How do you view this matter?

In a healthy Western democracy, when there is a weak Opposition, backbenchers play a more active role in scrutinising government policy. It is a working mechanism. A new check-and-balance in the ruling coalition can emerge to play this role of checking the executives and government on the use of public funds and policy.

Regarding tourism, is there any new programme that your administration would like to introduce to attract visitors within the next five years?

We should be more selective not only in terms of quantity matters, but in terms of quality as well. We need to have niche tourism markets to get high spenders.

At the moment, we cannot be choosy as we need them to fill up our hotel rooms and patronise our local businesses. But there will come a time when it will negatively impact the local environment.

We should move up a notch by focusing on higher spending and business travellers rather than the usual travellers.

In your own opinion, what should an ideal Penang look like?

Economic growth with environmental sustainability would be an ideal situation rather than sacrificing the environment for the sake of development.

Development has to be balanced not only geographically, but also in the strata of society, meaning that the B40 class (households earning RM3,900 a month or less) must be able to benefit from the economic development.

There must be job opportunities and stable income for them. They must not be sidelined or living in poverty without jobs. If jobs can be made available to foreign workers, why can’t it be the same for locals?

You won the Pengkalan Kota state seat in 1990, but lost it in 1995. What was it like having to start from square one?

I was back to full-time party work in 1998 to lead the party after the “Knock Out Kit Siang” internal party strife. After 1999, I was picked as state DAP chairman to continue the party’s struggle in Penang.

What was it like being a DAP-elected representative before and after 2008?

Very different. The government representatives have more resources to serve the people better. But we keep instilling the idealism of our party struggle and the long-term vision to win Federal power into our representatives so that they see a bigger vision for the party and themselves.

Many Penang DAP leaders are now in their 60s. Has the state party leadership identified the next echelon of leaders?

The party made a bold decision by fielding many new candidates in the 14th General Election. They have potential for future development in the Government and party. This is a rejuvenation process to prepare them for the future.

Source: The Star by alex tengtan sin chow

Related:

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Rude awakening for storm victims - Metro News - Penang fresh flood again

 

All riled up over slow response - Metro News 

 

Huge landslide in Tg Bungah hill 

 

To Malaysia with love, from the world

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Penang hit by floods again !

https://youtu.be/ooyXvqmxbvw

GEORGE TOWN: Some 20 houses located on a slope in Hong Seng Estate in Mount Erskine were flooded due to blocked underground drainage.

“Not again!” was the reaction of factory worker S. Kalaiselvi, 42, who found herself neck-deep in water at her house at 2am yesterday after a three-hour downpour.

She waded through the water to higher ground with her parents, who are in their 60s.

“I have been living here for 26 years and only now am I seeing such floods,” said Kalaiselvi, who also had to move out when her house was hit by the massive floods on Nov 4 and 5 last year.

Her father Subramanian Peru­mal, 68, said he was still waiting for the relevant authorities to resolve the problem.

At the site, firemen had to install a water pump to draw out the rainwater, which flooded most of the units to waist level at one point.

It was the third time that the area was flooded since October last year.

Last Oct 30, blocked underground drainage caused floodings affecting six houses during an evening downpour, followed by massive floods during the Nov 4 and 5 storm.

On Sept 29 last year, seven houses in the estate were also affected by soil erosion.

Consultant engineer Datuk Lim Kok Khong had said the soil erosion was due to water seeping under the ground.

Kebun Bunga assemblyman Cheah Kah Peng, who has been barred from helping out with the registration of flood victims for the one-off RM700 aid given by the Penang government, was also there but offered no concrete solution to the floods in the area.

Pulau Tikus assemblyman Yap Soo Huey said nine houses had to be demolished to make way for repair works.

She said they had offered owners of the nine affected houses a low medium-cost unit each as compensation, but the residents insisted on staying put.

Earlier, Penang Flood Mitigation Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said the latest floods were caused by the continuous downpour that began on Thursday evening.

“The rain also coincided with a 2.34mm high tide at 2.30am yesterday,” he said.

Chow said the short-term measures to deal with the floods were to dig and deepen the rivers, and carry out upgrading and cleaning works at riverbanks to ensure that there were no blockages.

In Bukit Mertajam, a low wall sealing off the entrance to a lorry driver’s house prevented it from being submerged in floodwaters all over again.

While the water on the road outside was up to knee level, Heng Kai Chin’s home remained relatively dry, thanks to the metre-high barrier of cement and bricks.

But Heng, 43, still skipped work yesterday to keep an eye on the flooding.

A state flood report said water had entered at least 100 homes in Bukit Mertajam.

Source: The Staronline

Related Links:

Penang struck by yet another deluge

PENANGITES woke up to a cloudy and rainy morning as continuous downpour lasting for hours inundated several parts of the state.
Wet day: Students wading through floodwaters at SMK Mak Mandin in Butterworth, Penang. (Left) Motorists braving through the waters on the flyover at Sungai Nibong, Bayan Lepas. — MUSTAFA AHMAD/The Star and social mediapic

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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Penang to set up panel to monitor floods, mudflows, soil ersosion, siltation & pollution

Sabri (fourth left) presenting safety vests to Chow (middle) and Lim to symbolically launch the Ops Lumpur enforcement squad at Komtar.

Putting an end to mudflows


THE Penang government has set up a steering committee to launch ‘Ops Lumpur’ to monitor development activities that could contribute to floods and river pollution in the state.

State Local Government, Traffic Management and Flood Mitigation Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow is the chairman, while his deputies are state exco members Phee Boon Poh and Lim Hock Seng.

The state Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID) is the secretariat, while committee members comprise those from the local governments, state Economic Planning Unit, state Public Works Department, Department of Environment and district engineers and officers.

Speaking at the launch of the Ops Lumpur enforcement squad yesterday, state DID deputy director S. Ratna Rajah said the committee would make monthly surprise checks at construction sites starting next month.

“Our aim is to ensure that all development comply with the erosion and sediment control plan (ESCP), which is reviewed and approved by the DID.

“The setup of the Ops Lumpur Steering Committee is meant to reduce the risk of flash floods, water pollution and siltation problem,” he said during a briefing at the state DID office in Komtar yesterday.

Ratna Rajah said one of the hotspots was in Paya Terubong, where mudflows and landslips were constantly reported during heavy rain.

He said action could be taken against unregulated project development operators under Section 34 (a) of the Environmental Quality Act, which carries a maximum RM100,000 fine, a jail term not more than five years, or both.

“The authorities can act against developers who have not been given the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Detailed Environmental Impact Assessment (DEIA) approval, or are caught violating the conditions,” he said.

Ratna Rajah said action could also be taken against the perpetrators under the Street, Drainage and Building Act 1974 (Act 133) by the local councils.

“Under Section 71 of the Act, those who failed to ensure the maintenance on the land, could be slapped with a maximum RM500,000 fine, or five years jail, or both,” he said.

Chow said the steering committee would act as adviser to two Implementation Committees spearheaded by Penang Island City Council mayor Datuk Patahiyah Ismail and Seberang Prai Municipal Council president Datuk Maimunah Mohd Sharif.

“We want to tackle problems like soil erosion and siltation at construction sites, which cause floods and river pollution.

“Our focus is to monitor those project developments with approved plans.

“The landowners, developers, engineers, consultants and contractors should play a role in ensuring they comply with ESCP.

“We need their cooperation so that there won’t be mudflows or river siltation whenever there are heavy rains.

“Sometimes, everything looks good on paper. We need to be at the sites to look for ourselves whether there is any violation of rules and regulations.

“We will visit any ongoing development projects,” he said.

Also present was state DID director Sabri Abdul Mulok.

Source: By Tan Sin Chow The Star/ANN

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