GEORGE TOWN: Barisan Nasional pledged to save Penang from an “imminent crisis” in its election manifesto launched today.
Among others, it vowed to cancel the contentious undersea tunnel and reclamation projects at Gurney Drive and the three islands project south of Penang Island.
It also promised to resolve floods and hill development issues within four years and to cancel all hillsite projects.
The coalition also promised motorists in Penang that traffic congestion would be resolved “within three years”.
The manifesto for Penang covers 60 initiatives which include environmental safeguards and goodies such as free parking at all municipal lots and exemption from land taxes.
At the launch of the manifesto today, state BN chief Teng Chang Yeow said BN was not running a popularity contest like the opposition, but offered genuine, “do-able” promises.
“For the DAP and Pakatan Harapan, a manifesto for them is to fish for votes and need not be fulfilled. Even Dr Mahathir Mohamad told a Singapore daily it might not fulfil all of its election promises.
“This is clearly an opposition desperate to be popular, offering sweet promises and forgoing the wellbeing of the people,” he told an 8,000-strong crowd at the ballroom of The Light hotel in Seberang Jaya here today.
Teng said Penang’s development has been on “autopilot” for the past 10 years and it had effectively wiped out the development carried out by the previous BN state government for 40 years.
He said when the BN lost Penang to the opposition, it left a sound state structural plan which was supposed to be implemented with a local plan. He said the local plan had not been gazetted until today.
Teng said the uncontrolled development had caused Penang to have more than 100 flood incidents since 2008.
“If BN gets the mandate from Penangites, we will stop all hill works,” he said.
‘Town planners are not planning, but politicians are’
Elaborating on the pledge to reduce political appointees in the city and municipal councils by half, Teng said it was important to allow civil societies to have a say in town planning.
He said it was therefore important to allow “respected” leaders of society and academics to give their views during planning permission hearings.
When asked if the civil society members should be given powers to allow or disallow projects, Teng said: “Of course.”
“We want to open up the planning committee to become a public hearing for all projects so that objections and feedback can be taken seriously.
“There is no planning, there is uncontrolled planning and the density is so high in some areas. Planners are not planning, but politicians are planning … that is the killer part.
“We need more planners on board. Planners must plan and politicians should make policies. If we get NGOs and individuals of high standing, we can improve our living standards in Penang,” he said.
Teng said with good planning, flash floods can be reduced significantly. He said if BN were to come into power, there would be extra attention from the federal government to help with flood mitigation plans in the state.
“We also have a drainage master plan. We have extensive plans, which have been in place since when we were in power, which we will use in the future,” he said.
The following are some of the highlights in the Penang BN’s manifesto:
* Promise to resolve issues of flash floods and “bald hills” in three and a half years.
* To cancel undersea tunnel and reclamation projects at Gurney Drive and the three islands’ project.
* To declare all hill lands and hill slopes situated at 250 feet above sea level as permanent forest reserves.
* Rent-to-own housing schemes; new housing projects priced between RM40,000 and RM120,000.
* No water rate hike for residential areas for the next five years.
* Free parking on Penang Island City Council and Seberang Perai Municipal Council lots.
* Free licences for pets.
* To build interchanges at congested locations and come up with a traffic dispersal plan for the entire state.
* Senior citizens to get RM300 aid per year.
* Parent-teacher associations (PTAs) of primary schools to get RM3,000; secondary schools and alumni societies to get RM5,000.
* To provide a one-off RM2,000 aid to newlyweds;
* RM15 million a year allocation to religious and private Chinese schools.
* Setting up of a corporation to absorb contract municipal workers so that they can be permanent hires.
* The setting up of a “Prosperous Family Complex” in each district, comprising centres for women, senior citizens, chronic disease care and rehabilitation.
* To limit the sale of heritage buildings to foreigners.
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