GEORGE TOWN: Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow is confident he will be able to juggle three jobs at once, based on 10 years of helping administer the state government.
He said he would have no problem being chief minister, an assemblyman and an MP, adding that his position as an MP was crucial as it would allow him to take up matters relating to Penang at the federal level.
“After 10 years in government, after going through the most challenging portfolios, I have grown older and become a little wiser.
“It is from Lim Guan Eng, who was both MP and chief minister, that I learned you can use your experience in Parliament to the fullest.
“I hope to put this opportunity to good use, to let Penang’s voice be heard in the Dewan Rakyat,” he said at a press conference in Komtar today.
Regarding his new state executive council, he said he had maintained the old “winning team” formula of DAP and PKR representatives as it had proved to be a winning formula.
Seven of the state executive councillors are from DAP while three are from PKR.
“It is an acceptable arrangement, from state to state. DAP won the most seats in some states, but we do not get the menteri besar or chief minister post. This is done in the spirit of Pakatan Harapan (PH).”
Chow was responding to a question on why other PH component members like Amanah and PPBM were not included in the new exco line-up.
The present state assembly members comprise DAP (19), PKR (14), Amanah (2), PPBM (2), Barisan Nasional (2) and PAS (one).
“We will move forward with this new government and the challenge will be to fulfil the 68 promises in the ‘I love Penang’ election manifesto,” Chow said.
He also thanked Penang voters for increasing PH’s seats from 30 in 2013 to 37 presently. He said the support for PH had increased from 66% in 2013 to 67.2% of the popular vote in the recent polls. In 2008, the popular vote in Penang for Pakatan Rakyat was 58%.
Transportation and heritage matters close to the heart
Chow said he had chosen to take up the transportation portfolio as one of his executive councillor portfolios to ensure that public transportation projects would take off quickly.
He said he had also wanted to personally look into transportation projects in the state ever since taking part in the original Penang Transport Master Plan, the Halcrow plan.
“I will look into projects under the Penang Transport Master Plan and Zenith Consortium,” he said.
Zenith will build a cross-channel undersea tunnel and three roads in Penang.
Chow said although the heritage portfolio had been merged with tourism and handed over to first-term exco member Yeoh Soon Hin, heritage would remain important to him.
“I have been in George Town all my life. I am very concerned about heritage matters. Although I have given the heritage portfolio to someone else, I will keep a close eye on heritage preservation.
“As the chief executive of the state, I have interest in all matters,” he said.
From Balik Pulau to Seri Teratai
Chow also said he would be moving to the Penang chief minister’s official residence, the Seri Teratai (formerly Rumah Tetamu) at Macalister Road, once it was in a “liveable condition”.
He said moving to the official residence would save him at least 90 minutes travelling back and forth from George Town to his personal residence in Balik Pulau, which is at the western hinterland of Penang Island.
“It is no longer tenable for me to stay in Balik Pulau. My wife and I have visited Seri Teratai and have decided to move there, but not immediately, because it is not in good living condition yet.
“I think the administration will do the needful in the next few months and stay closer to Komtar,” he said.
Seri Teratai is 10 minutes away from Komtar.
Lim, the former chief minister, had lived there for a year from 2008 but moved out after finding that the World War-era building was infested with termites. Reports indicate that “forest fire ants” were found in one section of the house.
Lim subsequently moved to his residence in Pinhorn Road.