* Tamil for f*-off
In its article Penang's Porr and monorail projects shelved, Malaysiakini said that the federal government has chopped these two major projects off from the original 9th Malaysia Plan.
Many Penangites believe that it’s part of the UMNO-led government's punitive action against them for voting in the DAP and allies. Recall, the UMNO Penang branch had immediately after the March election, in sour grape fashion, called on the federal government to do precisely this.
Thus, can you blame Penangites for perceiving the cancellation of these projects as the federal government's act of vindictiveness.
Naturally the government has denied such a motive.
However, kaytee believes the two projects of PORR, a 17-kilometre expressway that stretches from Tanjung Tokong to Gelugor in the island, and the monorail system shouldn’t be lumbered together in the same basket in our considerations.
Let’s consider first the PORR or Penang Outer Ring Road project which has been very unpopular with Penangites. Please read my previous posts:
(1) Koh Tsu Koon should go (2)
(2) Who benefits directly from PORR?
So on two counts, namely, (a) Penangites don’t want PORR in the first place, and (b) it’s hardly a public transport system but meant more for private cars (or commercial limousines) zooming from the airport to the resort hotels in the north coast, why lament its cancellation?
We can’t have double standards, cursing PORR when we were in opposition but cursing the federal government for abandoning it when we are in the State government.
Besides, as was alleged by RPK, the party who would allegedly benefit most from the PORR project is now the one dropping it from the 9th Malaysia Plan, so I would say it’s not a vindictive move, unless it has been a case of slashing one’s nose to spite one’s face.
I am happy to see PORR in its original dodgy contractual arrangements go - at least Penang still gets to keep its limited land assets which would have been lost for nothing in the questionable way they were (nearly) virtually given away by the previous State government.
But the monorail system, on the other hand, is a different kettle of fish, which has been why I stated that we shouldn’t bundle these two projects into the same basket.
The government’s claim of cancelling the project, according to Malaysiakini, has been due to its forced ‘reallocation’ (and not ‘relocation’ as the Malaysiakini reporter had put it) of finite resources to cushion the impact of the unprecedented hike in global oil prices.
This is bullshit because the monorail was proposed two years ago to help overcome worsening traffic jams in Penang's congested roads. In other words, it is supposed to be a public transport system to serve those who may not wish to use their own private vehicles, and more importantly, to encourage people to switch over to the cleaner and (nationally more) more economical public transport system.
As Malaysiakini reported, the postponing has been against the government promise to invest more on public transportation in the wake of increased (and likely further increases in) petrol prices.
The system is now more required than ever, especially when the public can be more easily motivated by their pockets to abandon the unaffordable (and from a fuel consideration, nationally costly and wasteful) luxury of moving around in private motor vehicles.
Thus I can see a case for the alleged vindictiveness by the UMNO-led federal government towards projects in DAP-held Penang.
If anything has to go, it should be the RM2 billion designated for the previously postponed double-tracking project from Ipoh to Rawang. Make do with an already existing single track for a while, and re-allocate the money to the monorail system for Penang. The rakyat needs such a public system real pronto.
But Malaysiakini said that according to Bernama news agency, the powerful Economic Planning Unit in the PM's Department said that Penang Monorail and PORR have both been PORRrah-ed.
It averred that projects that are not 'people centred' under the original 9th Malaysia Plan will be put on hold or deferred.
So, in the face of the current (and unending) fuel price hike and the government’s own promise for improved public transport infrastructure, the monorail has been deemed as not 'people centred'?
Is it because it's in Penang? Has there been any alternative public system offered to Penangites?
If this is not puerile partisan political vindictiveness, what is?