Fri. May 31st, 2024

Press statement by Syerleena Abdul Rashid – ADUN Seri Delima / DAP Penang Assistant Publicity Secretary / DAP Wanita National Executive Committee Member – Georgetown, Penang – 13th September 2021:

Gerakan’s selective amnesia?

The recent statement by Gerakan’s Penang chairman, Oh Tong Keong, exhibits an interesting performance of political selective amnesia. Lately, his party has been criticizing the Penang South Reclamation (PSR) project while conveniently leaving out several reclamation projects that were approved by the Gerakan-led Barisan Nasional state government.

The repeated attacks are obviously politically motivated with two focuses in mind – to smear the Penang Pakatan Harapan state government and to demoralise Penangites who for years have expressed their support to see Penang’s socio-economic status improve.

It appears as if Gerakan has forgotten that under their administration, several reclamation projects were approved, undertaken and completed.

In the 70’s, part of Pengkalan Weld’s Koay Jetty underwent reclamation to make way for high-rise flats, the 80’s saw the Bayan Lepas Free Trade Zone (FTZ) reclaimed to make way for factories, the 90’s saw part of Jelutong’s seafront reclaimed to construct the Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway (which was formerly known as the Jelutong Expressway) and the early 2000s, a significant portion of Tanjung Tokong’s seafront was reclaimed to make way for Seri Tanjung Pinang (STP1) which was turned into both residential and commercial developments. Interesting to note, approvals that were granted for Seri Tanjung Pinang 2 (STP2), the second phase of the aforementioned project which also allowed mixed development, was also a reclamation project initiated by the Gerakan-led state government. The Butterworth reclamation with Rayston Consortium was also inked during Gerakan’s era in 1999.

Disregarding the importance of the PSR project should be considered as a great injustice for thousands of Penangites who rely on the economic opportunities and employment possibilities this endeavour can offer. Perhaps Oh should be seeking explanations from his predecessors, the former chief minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon and former state exco Teng Chang Yeow, on why so many reclamation projects were approved during their administration?

Beguilingly, Oh should also seek explanation from his own party as to why they conveniently left out the mainland from further economic expansion projects? Surely, in the 60s and 70s, the mainland, especially Seberang Perai would have been a better location for economic expansion. However, one can make an educated guess that Bayan Lepas was chosen because the Penang Airport was within its proximity and logistically, it just made sense.

It is obvious that development requires methodical planning and calculated moves, while meeting the needs of people without compromising the future. Present day Penangites have benefited immensely from Tun Dr Lim’s forward-thinking decisions and herein lies the greatest question one must ask: If he had cowed to the anti-development views from detractors and naysayers such as those from the present Gerakan leaders, would Penang be languishing as a major economic contributor to the country today?

While many agree that the opening of the Bayan Lepas Free Trade Zone created better economic opportunities for Penang by turning our state into an electrical and electronics powerhouse, the environmental impact from poor planning and lack of environmental protection and enforcement has damaged the pre-existing eco-system. The current state government will not see history repeat itself and will continue to find best ways to develop the state sustainably; making sure that progress will not impair our unique environment.

The current Pakatan Harapan-led Penang State Government envisions to take Penang to greater heights through PSR’s Green Tech Park, a new industrial park that focuses on high-tech industries of the future but above all, the main focus here is to provide employment opportunities for Penangites irrespective to race and gender.

Penang needs to plan for the long-term future and put forth the wellbeing of the rakyat. We know how detrimental unsustainable development can be and the adverse impacts it comes with. We have seen the horrors unfold in other states and other nations. The apathy and lackadaisical attitudes that were passed down as a result from being under Barisan Nasional structure for decades are elements too counter-productive to have in our present society.

There is a dire need to create better economic opportunities for individuals and families, especially now as too many are affected by the global health crisis caused by Covid-19. We need to see the bigger picture, understand what is at stake and set aside all egos as well as political motives. Ignorance, condescension and greed have no place in any progressive society and if certain quarters are allowed to continue to spread such gross misinformation, the future of 1.78 million Penangites will continue to be at stake.