GEORGE TOWN: Transport Minister Anthony Loke Siew Fook has given his commitment that the iconic Penang ferry services ‘is here to stay.’ He said that the ministry was looking into improving the services, including plans to introduce the catamarans, as well upgrading the existing ferry terminal but no final decisions have been made yet. “We are looking into the iconic Penang ferry and the services must stay. “It is something the state government has emphasise and we wish to see it continue and further enhanced,” he added.
He was asked on the ministry’s plan for the ferry services following the takeover by Prasarana Malaysia Bhd recently. On May 1, Prasarana, through its subsidiary Rapid Ferry Sdn Bhd, took over the loss-making ferry operations from Penang Port Commission (PPC). The current ferry services had been handled by Penang Port Sdn Bhd (PPSB) since January 1, 1994, following the privatisation of Penang Port. Rapid Ferry, as the new operator, would also take over all properties owned by PPC at the Sultan Abdul Halim Ferry Terminal (Butterworth) and Raja Tun Uda Ferry Terminal (George Town) through a leasing agreement. Meanwhile, asked on the appointment of the new PPC chairman, after the post was left vacant by the previous chairman Datuk Tan Teik Cheng, who is also Penang MCA chairman, since June 30, Loke said the vacancy was not only in Penang, but also the ports in Port Klang, Johor and Labuan, among others. “We need some time to fill the vacancies. We are currently looking at some names but no decisions made yet. “All appointments are being subjected to approval by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad before the names presented to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong,” he said. Asked if the names will be filled by political appointees or professionals, Loke said it would be a mixture of both. “For sure we want professionals on board. We have met with stakeholders and asked them for recommendations from the industry.
“We hope for a better combination unlike in the past where all appointees are from political parties. We will not do that,” he said, referring to the previous Barisan Nasional era. Tan stepped down when Pakatan Harapan took over the Federal Government after the 14th General Election. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd