Govt’s decision on Penang highway might make no one happy, says Yeo

GEORGE TOWN: The federal minister in charge of the environment says she will take the middle path in deciding whether a controversial highway project in Penang will be approved.

Speaking at a town hall meeting on the Pan Island Link 1 (PIL 1) highway here yesterday, Yeo Bee Yin said the government’s final decision on the matter might please neither the supporters nor the opponents of the project.

Calling the issue “a grey area”, she acknowledged that a solution should be found which compromised between development and the environment.

“The prime minister has always said that the best decision is made when no one is happy with it, because when one group is happy with the decision, the other group has to make a sacrifice.

“The decision that the government and the Department of Environment is about to make – all of you will not be happy.

“But hopefully, it will be a middle road between development and the environment, and those who want a traffic solution versus those who think the other way is better. Ultimately, we want a better Penang for the future generations,” she said.

She also assured the audience that no one in the state government had a personal interest in the decision on the proposed highway.

“None of them (in the government) is pocketing any money,” she added.

The town hall session, organised by the Penang government at the Setia Spice Convention Centre in Bayan Lepas, was attended by over 800 people.

It was moderated by state exco member Zairil Khir Johari.

An environmental consultant who had prepared a report on the project briefed the audience on the technical aspects of the highway.

The Penang Forum, led by Lim Mah Hui and Kam Suan Pheng, then addressed the audience for about 15 minutes.

This was followed by a question and answer session which lasted over two hours, with some 30 people waiting in line to voice their concerns over the project.

The majority were against the PIL 1 project due to concerns over traffic and the environment. Others supported it, saying the project would cut travel time and allow them to spend more time at home.

At the end of the session, Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said all concerns raised would be addressed over the next few months.

He said a more detailed study would take place if the federal government approves the project, taking into account the concerns of civil society groups.