GEORGE TOWN: The multi-billion-ringgit Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) might be rejected, no thanks to the incessant complaints of the NGO grouping Penang Forum, Wong Hon Wai of the DAP says.
Wong, who is Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s political secretary, said Penang Forum might have just given the Federal Government “reasons” to reject the PTMP.
(The PTMP is the Penang Government’s plan to build LRT lines and highways, which would be financed through the reclamation of three islands to the south of Penang.)
Wong said it was regrettable that Penang Forum chose to support the action of its member, Lim Mah Hui, to send a letter unilaterally to Unesco on concerns related to a LRT hub to be built near the old Prangin Canal.
A disused market near the canal, called the Sia Boey (Hokkien for “town’s end”), was discovered to have many artefacts from the early 19th century buried there recently. It used to be a thriving riverside market back in its heyday.
Wong said Mah Hui did not have the courtesy to inform the state government on the letter.
“The state government believes the proposed transport hub and Sia Boey can co-exist (at the spot).
“The preemptive strike by Mah Hui in complaining to Unesco may jeopardise the entire PTMP by giving the Federal Government reasons for the PTMP to be rejected for putting the Unesco World Heritage site at risk,” Wong said in a statement today.
Mah Hui, a Penang Island city councillor, has been the target of Penang Government leaders, who have called him a backstabber for acting unilaterally by sending a dossier to Unesco over the proposed LRT hub at Sia Boey.
Guan Eng had said the proposed hub would be built outside the heritage site and would wait for a complete assessment on the archaeological finds first.
Yesterday, the Forum defended Mah Hui’s action, saying any one could write in to Unesco to protect the treasures that made it a World Heritage Site.
According to them, even places outside the heritage site were important as these may influence the heritage site as a whole.
They also told the Penang Government and its officials to lower their guns as Mah Hui had acted in accordance with acceptable Unesco guidelines.
Meanwhile, Wong told Mah Hui to stop politicking and challenging Guan Eng to sack him.
“If dissenting views were used to justify the sacking of Mah Hui from his posts as city councillor, Penang Institute director and Penang Transport Council member, he would have been sacked many years ago and he would not continue to remain in his appointed posts till today.
“The issue that Mah Hui needs to address is that he wants to play the hero by daring to voice dissenting views.
“But he tries to cover up the fact that he secretly wrote a letter of complaint to Unesco without informing the Penang Government, which he is a part of, by virtue of his appointment by the state government.”