Chant wants federal agency to intervene in race to build northern airport

Chant legal adviser Yan Lee at the press conference.

GEORGE TOWN: A Penang interest group today called for a win-win solution in view of reports by various quarters to build a new airport to serve the four northern states.

Citizen Awareness Chant Group legal adviser Yan Lee said the Northern Corridor Implementation Authority (NCIA), a federal agency overseeing the development in Perlis, Kedah, Penang and northern Perak, should be roped in to find a solution.

News reports had claimed that two companies had sent in proposals to build an airport at the shared borders of Penang, Kedah and Perak.

Lee said NCIA could engage with the International Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) group, an independent organisation that deals with public transportation.

He said ITDP, which has vast experience in linking public transport with major facilities, could advise on the best location for the airport while factoring in connectivity.

Furthermore, Lee said the RM46 billion Penang Transport Master Plan could be looked into by the NCIA and ITDP to reduce the high cost. This master plan will see a network of highways and rail transit lines being built in the long run.

Gerakan deputy president Oh Tong Keong.

“We want to be different in Malaysia Baru, not the old way. Look at how our prime minister has dealt with the East Coast Rail Link, LRT and MRT projects. All have been renegotiated for a lower price.

“We do not need people to propose to the PM directly when agencies such as the NCIA can help sort out matters.

“The northern region airport, for instance, could be shared by all four states. In the end, we can reduce a lot of cost for all four states in the country,” he said.

Separately, Gerakan deputy president Oh Tong Keong expressed fears that the Kulim international airport would adversely affect Penang’s economy.

He said it was further embarrassing that the Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow was unaware of two proposals for a regional airport made directly to the prime minister a year ago.

Presently, Kedah’s only domestic airport is at Kepala Batas, with an international airport on Langkawi Island. The Kedah government is building a new international airport in Kulim, to be funded by the private sector.

Perak, meanwhile, is also eager to build an international airport at Seri Iskandar, 50km southwest of Ipoh. The state plans to turn the older Ipoh airport into a private jet-only airport.

Putrajaya has given the nod for the Penang International Airport to be expanded to increase the number of passengers it can handle a year from the current 6.5 million to 16 million. It is expected to cost RM1.2 billion.