Pressure group Penang Forum has met the Council of Eminent Persons and requested for a review of Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP).
As a Penangite, I want to make known that the Penang Forum does not represent me or other Penangites. We do not share Penang Forum’s narrow views on the issue of traffic congestion.
The whole idea of having a transport master plan is never just about alleviating traffic congestion but to develop the state for the people, for the future.
Traffic congestion is an indication of Penang’s popularity as a preferred place for people from all over Malaysia to live and earn a living. Thus, the population growth and increasing number of vehicles on the roads in Penang.
To have a master plan that focuses only on relieving traffic jams is therefore narrow-sighted. This is the main difference between Penang Forum’s agenda and the state government’s PTMP.
The PTMP aims at making the whole state a better place to live and earn a living while Penang Forum only wishes to reduce the number of vehicles on the roads.
One of Penang Forum’s concerns over the PTMP is the estimated cost of RM46 billion. This concern is valid as we do not want the state to incur more debts.
For this reason, the state government’s PTMP comes with a financing plan. PTMP will be paid through the project to reclaim islands.
Penang Forum criticises and rejects this reclamation project. The NGO talks about hiring international experts to review and study the PTMP, upgrade ferry services, install trams and other suggestions.
But who will pay for the implementation of all these proposals without the funds from the reclamation project?
Does the Penang Forum expect the federal government, which has to deal with the RM1 trillion national debt, to borrow more money to fund Penang’s public transport system? Penang Forum wants its cake and eat it too.
The PTMP’s own financing plan will pay for the state-wide transport system. Therefore, the PTMP makes more financial sense.
Besides, Penang Forum’s own transport master plan, called “Better, Cheaper, Faster”, launched in July 2016, used questionable data for population projection and misrepresents the PTMP’s LRT proposal.
I hope the council will consider Penang Forum’s request alongside the comprehensive PTMP that many Penangites, including myself, are looking forward to.
Joshua Woo Sze Zeng is municipal councillor with Seberang Perai Municipal Council.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.