Penang governor moots new administrative complex on reclaimed land

Penang Governor Abdul Rahman Abbas opens this year’s state assembly session at Dewan Sri Pinang, George Town, today.

GEORGE TOWN: Penang Governor Abdul Rahman Abbas today suggested the use of one of the state’s reclaimed land projects for the construction of a new state administrative centre and state assembly.

He said this would be in line with Penang’s vision to be a smart and developed state by 2030.

Ongoing reclamation projects in Penang are at the foreshore of Gurney Drive, off Queensbay close to Jerejak Island, and Pantai Bersih off the waters of Butterworth.

There are also plans to reclaim three islands to the south of Penang island, although these have yet to obtain approval.

Rahman, who opened this year’s state assembly session today, said there was “serious need” for a new administrative complex to accommodate the civil service and better serve the people.

He said a new complex should include a new state assembly building, as the current building is over 200 years old and often requires expensive repairs.

He added that there were only 24 state assemblymen when the building was opened in 1959, compared to 40 now.

“I am still hopeful that the state government will take my motion to build a new state assembly seriously, for the comfort of its members, civil servants, media personnel and other pressing needs that need attention,” he said.

Rahman, a former assemblyman himself, served for four terms since 1977. He was also speaker of the state assembly from 1990 to 1995.

He said Komtar, the current state administrative complex, has “obvious weaknesses”, citing the panic that arose following an incident which required the evacuation of the the entire building earlier this month.

He said a new complex should be built to replace Komtar, in tandem with current developments.

Other issues he addressed included the two-term limit for the chief minister’s post, which he said would prevent abuse of power.

He also praised Penang’s financial management, citing unaudited accounts showing that revenue for 2018 was RM987 million compared to RM757 million the year before.

He said expenditure for last year was RM1.05 billion, compared to RM705 million in 2017, while state reserves were at RM1.07 billion in 2018, compared to RM1.092 billion in 2017.

The state assembly was held at the Dewan Sri Pinang, the third time in the legislature’s 60-year history that it has been held outside the state assembly building.