THE Penang government, through the Penang Hill Corporation, will issue a Request For Proposal (RFP) likely next month for its proposed Penang Hill cable car project.
Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow (PH – Padang Kota) told the State Legislative Assembly in Dewan Sri Pinang today that project would be implemented with the cooperation of the private sector through a Public Private Partnership (PPP).
“This cable car project is expected to take three to four years to complete and ready for operation,” Chow said when replying to an oral question by Lim Guan Eng (PH – Air Putih) who wanted to know the status of the project.
“The project was approved by the Federal Government under the 2020 Budget in October 2019.
“However, the Ministry of Finance through a letter dated April 3, 2020 stated that the application was not considered by the ministry and cannot be continued.
“On behalf of the Penang government, I had submitted an appeal on June 10 this year to the ministry to review and reconsider the allocation application for the proposed Penang Hill cable car project.
“But until today, we have not received any response from the ministry.”
Penang was initially given an allocation of RM100 million by the Federal Government to build the Penang Hill cable car project under 2020 Budget on Oct 11 when Lim was then the Finance Minister.
This was, however, withdrawn following a change of the Federal Government with Perikatan Nasional taking over Putrajaya from Pakatan Harapan in February.
Chow said under the 11th Malaysia Plan, the total number of Federal Government projects approved for Penang under 2020 Budget until Aug 2 is 167 projects with a total cost of RM14.9 billion.
“These projects consist of 126 new projects with a cost of RM10.52 billion and 41 extension projects with a cost of RM4.38 billion. Out of the 167 projects, 148 are physical and 19 non-physical.”
The breakdown of the 167 Federal Government approved projects is as follows: planning (13), according to schedule (122), completed (25), behind schedule (6) and ‘ill’ (1).
Lim, in a supplementary question, also wanted to know whether there was any reason given by the Federal Government for the cancellation of the Penang Hill cable car project.
In addition to that, he said the previous Pakatan Harapan Federal Government had guaranteed a RM10 billion loan for the Penang Transport Master Plan to help reduce traffic congestion in the state.
He asked whether its cancellation has anything to do with ‘revenge’ by the current PN Federal Government.
Chow said until now there was no good news from the Federal Government for Penang and the state had already followed up with an appeal to the ministry and prime minister.
The appeal is also to obtain the loan or bond guarantee from the Federal Government so that the state could carry out the public transportation project.
He also said the state would want that the projects to be included under the 12th Malaysia Plan.
“The 12th Malaysia Plan is not finalised yet; it’s only in January 2021. We still hope that because of the importance of the projects, the Federal Government will consider them.
“With the situation now, Penang cannot just sit and wait. We need a final decision so that we can take alternative action,” Chow said.
Asked by M. Satees (PH – Bagan Dalam) why Penang was punished by the Federal Government when allocations to other states, like Kelantan and Terengganu, were not withdrawn, Chow said he had no answer except that it must have ‘political elements’.
Story by K.H. Ong
Pix by Chan Kok Kuan