New scandals have erupted in the tiny island of Penang – the multi-billion undersea tunnel and three by-pass highway, and Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) projects.
The projects have drawn sharp rebuke from environmentalists and other civic organisations fighting for good governance.
Some RM305 million was being spent for mere geo-technical and feasibility studies for the tunnel and three interlinked major by-pass highways.
The tunnel contractor is conducting these studies and the DAP government claims there was “no conflict of interests”.
The money was paid through a reclaimed land swap deal – the land located along Tanjung Tokong shore.
If the studies revealed that the tunnel and three highways were not feasible and viable, millions in public fund would be burnt.
The projects comprised a 4.2km bypass from Gurney Drive to Lebuhraya Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu, a 4.6km bypass between Lebuhraya Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu and Bandar Baru Air Itam, a 12km paired-road from Jalan Tanjung Bungah to Teluk Bahang, and the 6.5km Penang-Butterworth sea tunnel.
Although it was a land swap deal, it is a public land bank.
The land swapped in this deal is learnt would be developed into a mega project to cater the needs of the rich.
The tunnel and three by-pass highways were actually shelved projects under the previous Barisan state government due its massive social and environmental negative impacts.
But the current DAP-government is not interested to know all these.
It is determined to carry out any projects that could please the developers, many whom were political funders as well.
One must know that many DAP Chinese voters came from abroad to vote for the party in the last general election (GE13).
They were all believed to be registered as voters under addresses of many condominiums and apartments that were built recently.
DAP insiders said the expenses to register and bring all these voters to vote on the election day were funded by several developers.
“So now the DAP government by hook or crook must repay the sponsorship by approving mega projects for them, notwithstanding whether the projects were worthy and, detrimental to environment and the people.
“Previously the DAP always claimed to be whiter than white, condemned BN for allegedly implementing all these political innovations. Now the DAP is much engrossed in it.
“Previously the DAP was pro-people socialist party. But now pro-developers capitalist outfit. It’s a real ‘ubah’”, said an upset insider.
There is also an on-going Gurney Wharf project on a reclaimed sea land along Gurney Drive.
It was supposed to be a public waterfront recreational park ala international class.
PTMP is based on an outdated four stage travel demand model, first implemented in Detroit and Chicago during the late 1950s, to estimate long-term ridership forecasts for the overall transport master plan.
This model is only applicable for short-term forecasts.
It is still used by Transport for London only to estimate the severity of network disruptions for accidents and short-term road closures.
Three man-made islands will be created from a reclamation project to be carried out along southern shore of Penang island at Permatang Damar Laut coast.
Some 300,000 people are projected to live in the three islands – 17,000 people per square km, which is almost equivalent to Hong Kong.
SRS Consortium, the PTMP project delivery partner (PDP), has been given the contract to reclaim and develop the three artificial islands, proceeds from which will be channelled to implement the transport projects.
Now the Natural Resources and Environment (NRE) Ministry had ordered the state government to halt all reclamation projects.
What now for DAP government?
Most probably, if the federal government were to cancel the reclamation projects, the DAP would politicise the whole issue and blame the federal government for not assisting the state to improve public transportation networks.
Politicising, politicking and polluting everything with tacit racism have been hallmarks of DAP and its rule in Penang.
All these controversies aside, the DAP government has come up with another major religious controversy – the golden chariot procession for Taipusam which falls on Feb 9, 2017.
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