Chow sets record straight on PORR

Audrey Dermawan

GEORGE TOWN: Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow has set the record straight, stressing that he had never opposed the Barisan Nasional-mooted Penang Outer Ring Road.

He told the New Straits Times that DAP had actually campaigned against the imposition of toll for the road project.

This comes after a group of concerned Penangites, who protested against the Pan Island Link 1 (PIL 1) highway project outside the state legislative assembly building this morning, reminded Chow that he had opposed the PORR in the past, when he was in the opposition, but supported PIL 1, now that he was in the government.

They questioned his change of stand and principles.

They also handed out excerpts of Chow’s speech on May 29, 2002, during the launch of the PORR People’s Awareness Exhibition organised by Penang DAP.

“I just want to set the record straight. At the time, we had campaigned against the imposition of toll for the road project,” said Chow.

“And, in 2008, the new state government (then Pakatan Rakyat) had passed a motion to call on the then Federal Government to revive three projects in Penang – the light rail transit, PORR and Mengkuang Dam.”

Chow also provided NST with the full text of the speech.

He said Penang DAP had organised the PORR exhibition to boost awareness among the people that the whole population would be affected and not just those connected to the 76 properties that had to be relocated for the project.

He also said that Penangites would have to pay toll for 30 years and the properties located next to the road would be affected.

As such, he said, there must be a review of PORR, including the privatisation of the project, letter of intent to Peninsular Metro-Works, need for social impact assessment, cultural impact assessment, public inquiry of the new EIA report, financial incentives to concessionaire and technical aspects.

On July 4, 2008, it was reported that then chief minister, Lim Guan Eng, had sent an appeal letter to ask the Federal Government to reconsider four mega projects on the island state, including the deferred RM1.5 billion PORR and the RM2 billion monorail projects.

In the four-page letter handed to then prime minister, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Lim had pressed for the implementation of the RM1.1 billion Mengkuang Dam expansion project and RM40 millon upgrading of the Penang Hill railway system.

The reasons given for not deferring the monorail project included that it was an important public transport network system that would ease the burden of the rakyat following the hike in petrol prices in the world market and the restructuring of the oil and gas subsidies by the Federal Government.

As for the PORR project, the letter argued that it would ease traffic congestion and indirectly spur economic activities in the state, while the expansion of Mengkuang Dam would ensure a cleaner water supply for Penangites after 2010.

It also argued that the Penang Hill railway system should be given priority as it was a key tourist attraction.

keywords: Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow, Penang Outer Ring Road, Pan Island Link 1, Federal Government, Mengkuang Dam, Lim Guan Eng © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd