‘Penang needs improved social conditions more than mega projects.’
Lim Boo Chang, who quit PKR last year and is now a social activist not affiliated with any political party, said Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s administration appeared to be more interested in implementing mega projects than fighting poverty or improving social conditions in the state.
“The priority should be about eradicating all forms of poverty and improving the quality of life here instead of engaging in grandiose projects such as an underground tunnel and a major convention hall,” he said after presenting food hampers to poor families in Kampung Makam.
Kampung Makam, which lies off Datuk Keramat Road, is a community of about 70 poor families living in decaying conditions, which observers say are due to the rapid physical development in surrounding areas. The drainage system is faulty and flash floods are frequent.
Although Lim Boo Chang has a tainted reputation as a politician, having quit Gerakan to join MCA and quitting that party to join PKR, his remarks appeared to resonate with some members of the public.
Businessman Ismail Ali and his brother Hamdan said the state administration seemed to be on “auto-pilot”. They agreed with the maverick politician that Guan Eng was spending too much time trying to deflect criticism and too little addressing such issues as living costs, spiralling property prices, traffic jams, environmental degradation and the lack of good jobs for wage earners.
They acknowledged, however, that there had been some positive outcomes of Pakatan’s takeover of the state in 2008, citing improved service by local authorities, a more transparent administration and a much cleaner environment.
“The problem is that Penang residents want more than this,” said Ismail. “They want good jobs and quality living, where road traffic is better managed, for example.”
Hamdan said Lim’s government seemed unaware that the public was more interested in supporting better administrators than better politicians.