Saturday, May 31, 2008

Guan Eng: What matters is who closed the deal

NST - May 31, 2008


Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng has refused to be drawn into a verbal war with an aide of his predecessor over who should be credited for recent high-profile foreign direct investments in Penang.

Lim's press secretary Cheong Yin Fan said in a statement that the chief minister did not wish to engage at the level of those who try to claim credit for the investments.

"The chief minister does not want the effort to attract foreign investment to be politicised for fear that this will not only hinder but may drive away foreign investment.

"The new state government prefers to focus on strengthening Penang's competitiveness and focusing on its physical and human infrastructure.

"This would enhance Penang's attractiveness as the preferred investment destination," Cheong said in a statement yesterday.

Lim had been asked to comment on Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon's former political secretary Mark Ooi Swee Hing's criticism against him.

Stating that he would not stoop to Ooi's level, Lim said: "What is important is who managed to close the deal and that alone speaks for itself.

"Our main priority is to get more investors into the state," he said.

Ooi had said in a statement on Thursday that the RM1.2 billion investment by Japan's Ibiden Co Ltd and RM115 million by Honeywell of the United States were the result of Koh's efforts over two years.

Urban park by the sea

The Star - May 31, 2008 By CHRISTINA CHIN

THERE's a new recreational spot on the island's eastern coast Penangites can now heaad for the 3.6km pedestrian promenade by the Jelutong Expressway (JE) for their morning jogs, evening strolls or just to enjoy the scenic view.

Touted as Penang’s longest, the landscaped promenade which is now open to the public, runs parallel to part of the JE stretch from Jalan Sungai Pinang to Penang Bridge and is built on reclaimed land.

Designed as a seafront urban park at a cost of about RM7mil, the promenade at Bandar Sri Pi-nang overlooks the Butterworth port and Penang Bridge.

The 3.6km long promenad, which overlooks the Butterworth port and Penang Bridge.

The 10m wide promenade along Lebuh Sungai Pinang was constructed by Jelutong Development Sdn Bhd – a subsidiary of IJM Properties Sdn Bhd.

The promenade area features a central deck, pedestrian-cyclist pathway, shady trees, hibiscus shrubs and car park.

The promenade where Penangites can go for their morning jog and evening strolls.

At the central deck, the main attractions are the “Celebration of Our Blue Sky”, comprising four 25m high blue posts and another sculpture called the “Rhythm of Light”.

The promenade together with the sculptures were officially presented to the state government on Thursday.

The sculptures are the work of Hitori Nakayama – a Japanese artist who has made the island his home in the last 20 years.

During the official handing-over ceremony, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng thanked the developer for its initiative to “take art out of gallery spaces and bringing it directly to the people”.

Lim said besides quality, affordable homes, amenities and recreational facilities were important in enhancing the people’s quality of life.

IJM Corp Bhd chief executive officer and managing director Datuk Krishnan Tan said the two sculptures were part of the company’s “Penang in Harmony” collection.

Lim signing on the plaque to open the promenade.

“Over the years, we have commissioned several art pieces to help beautify the state. These include the ‘Harmony Fly’ seagull sculptures along the Jelutong Expressway and ‘Wave of Prosperity’ Gurney Drive roundabout.

“Sculptures are not merely art pieces. They add a creative dimension to the island’s street-scape and are landmarks in their own right,’’ he said.

He added that once the company’s entire Jelutong development project was completed in a few years, Penang would have a shoreline development that was among the best in the world.

Also present at the ceremony were Consul-General of Japan in Penang Hideaki Hoshi, state executive councillors Chow Kon Yeow and Abdul Malik Abdul Kassim, assemblymen Ng Wei Aik and Lau Keng Ee, Penang island municipal council (MPPP) president Datuk Zainal Rahim Seman, IJM Properties Sdn Bhd managing director Teh Kean Ming and sculpture artists Nakayama and Heng.

Teh, speaking to the press after the event, said construction of the JE second phase in Weld Quay had been completed.

“We are just tying up loose ends now. Under Phase Three which will take 36 months to complete, an interchange at Jalan Tan Sri Teh Ewe Lim and Jalan Sungai Pinang would be built,” he said.

Council to go after ratepayers who owe RM50mil

The Star - May 31, 2008

THE Seberang Prai Municipal Council is going after property owners who owe a whopping RM50mil in assessment arrears.

Council president Farizan Darus said they would take defaulters to court if they still refused to pay up.

“We will not hesitate to take legal action, seize their household items and seal their buildings to recover the arrears,” said Farizan after the council’s full meeting yesterday.

“Those who cannot afford to pay in one lump sum can meet up with our finance department officers to discuss settling their dues in instalments.”

Farizan said the council expected to collect RM112mil in assessment rates this year, adding that they had collected RM63mil over the past five months.

“Collection for the second half of this year’s assessment arrears will start in mid-June.

“Ratepayers can make payments at our counters or through the council’s website.

“The last day to pay your arrears is Aug 30,” he said.

There are currently 260,000 rateable buildings in Seberang Prai.

For more information, contact the council at 04-5497470

Vocal councillors want answers

The Star - May 31, 2008

THEY were vocal, demanding and hungry for answers. The Seberang Prai Municipal councillors who sat for their second full council meeting yesterday may be new in their roles but were certainly not shy about raising their concerns on various issues.

Council meetings, which usually lasted less than half an hour, stretched on for nearly two hours yesterday.

Council president Farizan Darus was kept busy replying to 12 written questions from councillors Goh Choon Aik and Oon Neow Aun as well as additional questions from the floor during the meeting.

Questions about the council’s revenue, upkeep of cleanliness, poor collection of assessment rates, under-performing contractors and lack of enforcement were among the issues hotly discussed.

In his response, Farizan said matters on cleanliness would be tackled seriously and he would not hesitate to terminate the services of contractors who did not fulfil their obligations.

“I give you my guarantee that matters on cleanliness will be given priority and they will be managed well.

“I’ve met up with all the contractors and the council’s health department officers to discuss their responsibilities and to remind them that their contracts will be terminated if services provided are not satisfactory,” he said, adding that there were 55 contractors on the council’s payroll and their services were reviewed on a monthly basis.

Farizan also said in the meeting that the council had been trying to keep a balanced budget since 2006 but due to increasing management cost and a revision in the government servants’ salaries, the council had ran into a deficit.

“The council has been trying to increase its revenue through the collection of assessment arrears, issuance of business licences and rental of parking lots,” he explained.

And just before the meeting ended, councillor Soon Lip Chee gave a lengthy speech on contractors who did not fulfil their obligations.

Soon even brought a pot of planted grass into the meeting to show the correct height of mowed grass that a contractor should follow.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Guan Eng to Koh: Don't politicise efforts to attract FDI - The Sun

GEORGE TOWN (May 30, 2008): BY Opalyn Mok

The open criticism by Mark Ooi, aide to former chief minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon against Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng does not deserve a response, the latter said today.

"That sort of statement is not worth commenting on. Why don't you go ask the companies (referring to the investors)?" he said when pressed to comment on the statement at a press conference here.

He added that the results will speak for themselves and he preferred to concentrate on inspiring more investors to come to Penang.

"I refuse to respond to the personal attacks by Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon and his assistants against our successes in attracting new foreign investments," he said.

He added that he does not wish to engage at the level of those who try to claim credit, as the people of Penang can judge this on their own.

He pointed out that the press conferences to announce the investments in Penang were organised by the companies and not him.

"I do not want the efforts to attract foreign investment to be politicised as this will not only hinder but drive away foreign investments," he said.

He later sent a press statement to further clarify that the state government prefers to focus on strengthening its competitiveness and focusing on its physical and human infrastructure to enhance the attractiveness of Penang as a investment destination of choice.

On Thursday, Ooi, who is Koh's former political secretary, issued a statement criticising Lim for claiming credit for the direct investments of RM1.2 billion by Japanese company Ibiden Co. Ltd and RM115 million by American company, Honeywell Aerospace.

He claimed that Lim was taking the spotlight for the finishing touch of a long and challenging process of over two years by Koh.

"To set the record straight, the effort of the new state government in the last two months merely represented the final short phase of a long process of promotion and negotiation stretching back one to two years," he claimed.

Last week, Ibiden announced its RM1.2 billion investment in Penang and on Wednesday, Honeywell announced its RM115million investment in Penang.

Penang CM chided for claiming FDI successes - The Star

PETALING JAYA: May 30, 2008

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng has been chided for claiming credit for two high-profile foreign direct investments (FDI) into Penang.

Mark Ooi Swee Hing, the former political secretary of Lim's predecessor Tan Sri Koh Tsu Koon, said Lim gave the impression that the investments were due to the new government's efforts within a short span of two months.

“To set the record straight, the effort of the new government in the last two months merely represented the final short phase of a long process of promotion and negotiations stretching back one to two years.

“His announcements did not at all acknowledge the crucial roles Koh played in convincing the investors to locate here, together with the Malaysian Industrial Development Authority (MIDA),” he said at a press statement yesterday.

The two FDIs are from Japan’s Ibiden Co Ltd (RM1.2bil) and United State’s Honeywell (RM115mil).

Ooi said in each of the cases, Lim had “hurriedly called a press conference to claim credit the day after MIDA made the announcement”.

“Such publicity was obviously aimed at giving the impression that these investments are solely the result of the new state government’s efforts in investment promotion,” he said.

He added that multi-national companies usually took time to assess economic feasibility, logistics, local supply chain and human resources, fiscal and tax incentives before deciding.

“In the case of Ibiden, the entire process took two years and Dr Koh himself personally visited Ibiden’s headquarters near Nagoya, Japan, on July 19, 2007 and met with their top management to present a strong case for Penang,” said Ooi.

He also explained that in Honeywell’s case, the process also took considerable time and effort, with the decision to invest only made and reported in the US press on Feb 28 this year.

“It is only fair and proper that the new state government honestly gives due credit to the previous state administration as well as to MIDA and the Treasury for the work they have done.''

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Conversion possible only after land returned to state - The Star

Conversion possible only after land returned to state

GEORGE TOWN: May 29, 2008

Leaseholders of state land must "return" their properties to the state before the land can be converted into freehold status or the lease extended.

The National Land Code (NLC) states that all land matters come under the state's purview but it is silent on the issue of land conversion and lease extensions, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said.

"Legally, we can do it but it must be in accordance with NLC procedures. As there are no NLC provisions on the matter, we have to consider all conversion and lease extension applications as a new land alienation application.

"Before we can give you a fresh title, you need to return the land to us," he said, admitting that there was no "black and white" guarantee that once the land was transferred back to the state, it would be returned to the owner.

"We have already made the announcement in the media so I assure you that we will not backtrack on the policy after you have given us back the land. To make things easier and more systematic, we will make sure that all necessary forms are available at the Land and District Office by June 15," he said, adding that this was the Penang Pakatan Rakyat government's policy.

"There will not be a snap election in the state, so don't worry. We will implement this policy," he said, adding that the process would take between three to six months, depending on the number of applicants.

"How long is not important. What is more important is the policy which will benefit the people and the state," he said.

He was speaking to reporters Thursday after witnessing the swearing in of six staff members from the chief minister's department in Komtar. Also present was state Land and Mines Department director Arifin Awang.

Arifin noted that almost all the leasehold industrial land in Prai and Bayan Lepas were given 60-year leases.

"The majority of these companies have only about 30 years left on their lease so the new policy will definitely benefit them," he said.

On Saturday Lim had urged residential leasehold landowners to apply to the state government to convert the government land into freehold status for a premium payment.

The land premium price would be calculated based on the difference between the freehold land price and the property's current market price.

The new land policy, would allow 30-year, 60-year or 99-year residential leasehold land be converted into freehold land on a case-by-case basis

CM not involved in sports event - The Star

GEORGE TOWN: May 29, 2008

A sports event organiser has allegedly tapped into Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s popularity to seek sponsorship from several companies in the state.

State executive councillor Phee Boon Poh claimed he and Komtar assemblyman Ng Wei Aik had received several complaints from businessmen who were approached by the organiser, Malaysia Arm Sports Association, to sponsor their tournament in August.

“The businessmen had been misled into believing that the event was supported by the Youth and Sports Ministry and the state government.

“The truth is Lim only agreed to issue a message in their souvenir booklet in March but did not give approval to the organiser to seek sponsorship or donations,” Phee said after lodging a police report at the Petani Road police station here yesterday.

Phee claimed the organiser even added Lim’s photo and a stamp stating “salinan disahkan” (certified copy) before presenting it together with a letter from the Malaysian Sports Commissioner’s Office to potential sponsors.

He said that one company donated RM1,500 after being told that the event was endorsed by the state.

Phee said the state had in April lodged a police report against the same organiser for using the state’s logo without written permission.

He claimed the organiser had since withdrawn the logo from the letterhead but continued to use it in the official receipts they issued to the sponsors.

“Now we want to withdraw the message and to announce officially that we have no connections with them at all,” he said.

Ng said he managed to contact the “person-in-charge” through a mobile phone number provided by a businessman who was asked to sponsor the event.

He said the man claimed to be an officer from the income tax office but declined to give his post in the department.

“He also told me the event was organised by the Youth and Sports Ministry, which is obviously not true,” he added.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Penang gets second major foreign investment in a week - The Sun

GEORGE TOWN (May 28, 2008): By Opalyn Mok

With a second foreign investor announcing a significant investment in Penang within a week today, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng says the state is hopeful of matching last year's RM3.1 billion in foreign investments.

"We are already more than halfway there and we hope to see more biotech companies coming in," he said in a press conference announcing Honeywell International's investment of US$36 million or about RM115.2 million in Penang.

He added that the state is also currently in discussions with many other foreign companies who may invest in Penang.

Last Wednesday, Japan's Ibiden Co Ltd announced plans to invest RM1.2 billion in a new facility to manufacture high performance and and high density printed wiring boards to cater for increased market demand for mobile phones.

Honeywell, through its Honeywell Aerospace, will build an avionics manufacturing facility in Penang to support the needs for equipment in communications and navigation for commercial and general aviation aircraft.

Honeywell Aerospace vice-president (Integrated Supply Chain) Neal Speranzo said: "Malaysia is an excellent choice for the company to invest in not only in the region but also in the global market.

"Construction have already started and we have also begun hiring. By 2009, we hope to hire up to 600 employees and the manufacturing facility will be fully operational by 2010."

Lim said it is very important that foreign investors like Honeywell have confidence to invest in the state.

"The fact that this leading aerospace company has chosen to invest in Penang indicates that we are attracting more high tech companies to the state," he said.

He added that the state is looking for big investments by companies that offer high-paying jobs rather than just many jobs.

"It is more important to look at the investment sum," he added.

Polls talk ploy to prevent defections: Guan Eng - The Sun

GEORGE TOWN (May 28, 2008): By Opalyn Mok

The Election Commission's talk about snap election appears to be a plan hatched by certain quarters to prevent any change of government by defections or crossovers, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said today.

"That's why I think it is important that this is not used as a device because there's some talk that to prevent people from jumping over, they are using the threat of snap election to stop them from doing so," he said in a press conference after announcing a RM115.2 million investment by Honeywell Aerospace here.

"Is this a device? It looks like it to me. They are saying, if you jump over, we can have snap election and you will get defeated," he said.

"Is that the real message they are trying to send out?"

Lim also asked EC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman to reveal the identity of the party who had told him that there was going to be a snap election.

"Has he been getting indications from the Cabinet or the prime minister?" he asked.

Lim said it is the government of the day which has the power to call for a snap election and not the EC.

"The EC only conducts elections. When the term is up, it has the power to decide but when the term is not up, it has no power to decide.

"So who told the EC that there is going to be snap election? Does this show that EC is no longer independent. If that is so, we will go back to the same problem that elections are unfair, not free and not impartial," he said.

He called on the EC to explain why they are suddenly talking about snap election.

As for whether the state government is ready if a snap election is called, Lim said the federal government can call for a snap election but the state government has a choice of whether to have the snap election or not.

Lim was commenting on a statement by Abdul Rashid that EC has told its officers to be prepared for snap polls recently.

On the EC's proposal to re-register voters to clean up the electoral rolls, Lim was sceptical that the rolls could be 'cleaned up'.

"Whatever you do, if the organisation is not clean, it does not make any difference," he said.

He said it is more important to reform the EC.

Repair dilapidated buildings, owners urged - The Star

May 28, 2008

OWNERS of dilapidated vacant houses in George Town should carry out repairs to the buildings to prevent any untoward incidents, said Penang municipal councillor Tham Weng Fatt.

Tham told a press conference that fire or accidents could occur at the houses, adding that they could also become dens for drug addicts.

“Look after your own property and don’t let it be an eyesore that mars the beauty of George Town,” he said at his service centre in Aboo Sittee Lane yesterday.

Tham said he had received numerous complaints from the public regarding such houses.

“I did a survey last month and counted more than 100 empty old houses badly in need of repairs,” he said.

He said that the houses were located in, among others, Jalan C.Y. Choy, Burmah Road, Malacca Road, Carnarvon Lane, Pahang Road and Macalister Road.

Tham said he met with the owners of about 20 dilapidated buildings, adding that some were now carrying out repairs.

He said the problem of old buildings being left vacant started after the repeal of the Rent Control Act in 2000, and that this problem had been highlighted time and again.

He said he would ask the council’s infrastructure committee at its meeting next week to come up with a set of guidelines or give instructions to these property owners to repair their houses.

Tham also suggested that those who did not need their houses anymore should apply to convert the land into parking lots.

“They might as well get revenue from the land rather than leave the houses vacant,” he said.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

RM270mil upgrade of TNB system - The Star

May 27, 2008

SEVERAL projects costing more than RM270mil to upgrade the Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) delivery system are now being implemented in Penang.

To ensure continuous electricity supply, TNB will be carrying out improvement works in stages, Energy, Water and Communications Minister Datuk Shaziman Abu Mansor said.

He said this in a written reply to an oral question from Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, who is also Bagan MP, during the recent Parliamentary sitting. The reply was faxed to The Star in Penang.

Shaziman said enhancement works involving the Bayan Lepas and Prai Industrial Estate main substation intake (PMU) should be ready by the end of next year.

“A new PMU will be built in Bayan Mutiara. This should be ready by the end of 2011.

“By 2012, rehabilitation works at PMU Bukit Tengah should also be ready,” he said.

He added that RM103mil would be spent on improving the supply of electricity.

“We will be building main distribution substations (PPU) in Jalan Mahsuri and Bukit Minyak. These substations will be ready by next year. Other rehabilitation projects will also be undertaken at several PPUs in the state,” he said.

Lim had asked Shaziman whether TNB was prepared to ensure that there would not be any more power disruptions to Prai Industrial Estate, Bayan Lepas and Bukit Minyak where manufacturing and high technology industries are centred.

In another oral question, Lim asked Transport Minister Datuk Ong Tee Keat for the North Butterworth Container Terminal (NBCT) development and cost details.

The minister’s written reply stated that the second phase of the NBCT expansion project was now being undertaken in stages.

“The cost of Phase Two is RM233.36miI and is financed by Penang Port Sdn Bhd.

“The last stage in Phase Two will involve the construction of a container yard which should be completed by July. The office building will be ready next year,” he said, adding that the cost of building the yard included payment for sand royalty.

Stop harping on petty issues and get to work, Koh tells Guan Eng - NST

GEORGE TOWN: May 27, 2008 By Audrey Dermawan

Former chief minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon has finally broken his silence on his views about the new state government, saying that it should concentrate on governing the island states instead of harping on petty issues.

Koh, who is also acting Gerakan president, said the new administration under Lim Guan Eng should do what it felt was best for Penang.

"He has been complaining to the press that I have no time to meet him.

"I feel he should do what he deems fit for the state and its people. There is no urgency for me to meet him at this point," he said, adding he would only meet Lim if it was necessary to do so.

Koh said the DAP had been critical of what the previous administration had done before this.

Therefore, he said it was pointless for Lim to seek an appointment to meet him.

Monday, May 26, 2008

American firm to invest in Penang - The Star

May 26, 2008

AN American high-tech company will announce its multi-million dollar investment in Penang this week, said Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.

He said that he would leave it to the new investor to reveal the details of the investment plan, adding that more foreign investments were expected to come to the state later.

“I hope the inflow of foreign investors to Penang will attract local investors including small and medium industries to the state,” he told newsmen after opening Hu-man Rights Training Programme yesterday.

He described the assurance by Second Finance Minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop that the second Penang bridge project would proceed as a boost for Penang to attract more investors.

“We have to try catch the wave before the global economic slowdown which is expected to hit us at the end of the year.

“One should catch all the fish when the tide is coming in and not receding,” he added.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Tsu Koon to play mediator role - The Star

GEORGE TOWN: May 25, 2008

Small and medium industries (SMIs) in Penang that are facing problems can look up to former Penang Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon.

State Gerakan SMI bureau head Michael Heah said they could forward their grouses to the Federal Government through Dr Koh.

“Dr Koh will use his connections to channel their grievances to International Trade and Industry Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin,” he said at a press conference at the state Gerakan headquarters here yesterday.

Heah said the 3,000-odd SMIs in the state were in the dark over what was taking place in the state under the new state government.

He urged the state to work closely with the Federal Government to attract foreign investments and formulate strategies to collectively tackle difficulties and overcome challenges.

He said many foreign investors were adopting a “wait and see” attitude to ascertain whether the political scenario in the state was stable.

“We are facing intense competition from Asian countries. The increase in the price of raw materials and rising manpower costs has affected many SMIs in Penang.

“Some have closed down and relocated to other countries,” he said.

He said the Federal Government should continue assisting SMIs in Penang although the state was governed by Pakatan Rakyat.

The press conference was called to announce the CEO Tips Coffee Talk that will be held at Paradise Cafe near Queensbay Mall on June 5 at 7pm.

Dr Koh will be speaking at the talk themed “Challenges in the Time of Change”.

Entry to the talk sponsored by HSBC is free. Seats are limited to 100 participants. For registration, call Ng or Matthew at 046462020 before June 1.

Apply to convert to freehold status, Guan Eng tells landowners - The Star


Residential leasehold landowners in Penang can begin applying to the state government to convert the government land into freehold, said Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.

He said the state was studying a new land policy, which would allow the 30-year, 60-year or 99-year leasehold land be converted into freehold land on a case-by-case basis.

“We are also looking into allowing the tenure of leasehold industrial land owned by the state government to be extended from 60 years to 99 years.

“Those given the approval must, of course, pay the land premium,” he said after he led a donation drive at the Air Itam market for the Sichuan Earthquake Fund yesterday .

Lim said the move to change the land policy was decided at the state Exco meeting on Friday but there were legal hurdles to overcome.

“We have to make sure that this policy is in compliance with the National Land Code,” he said.

He said the study would include the economic impact on both businesses and on the state.

Lim said extending the tenure of leasehold industrial land would help companies apply for bank loans.

“The state state government will also benefit from the premium to be paid for the extended lease tenure,” he said.

On leasehold commercial land, he said there would be no change to the land policy, which extends to 99 years.

Lim said the state government would take steps to ensure those allowed to convert residential leasehold land into freehold do not sell off the land immediately.

He said each landowner has to submit their own application for the change of land status.

“Those who want to apply can start applying now and if they need help, they can contact their assemblymen,” he said.

A total of RM2629.20 was collected from the public during the one-hour donation drive.

Also, those present were state DAP chairman Chow Kon Yeow, state party secretary Danny Law and Air Itam assemblyman Wong Hon Wai.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Ibiden Co plans RM1.2b investment in Penang - The Sun

GEORGE TOWN (May 22, 2008)

Japan's Ibiden Co. Ltd's plans to invest RM1.2 billion in Penang indicating that investors have confidence in the new state government's administration.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said Ibiden's announcement to invest the sum in a new manufacturing facility in Penang reflected the company's confidence in the state government.

"It was not easy to close this deal and since we are able to close it, it shows that investors' confidence in the state's stability is still there," he said in a press conference to announce Ibiden's investment in Penang in his L28 Menara Komtar office today.

When asked to comment on whether the current turmoil in Umno could cause adverse reactions amongst investors, Lim said this first large investment by a company since the DAP and PKR took over the state government is a good enough example.

"Ibiden would not have made this billion-ringgit decision without proper consideration and I hope their decision will send a message to other investors.

"Whatever happens and whatever the scenario, Penang will still be stable and we are happy to gain the confidence of Ibiden," he said.

Lim also hinted at an upcoming announcement of another major investment by a foreign investor next week.

"We are expecting a global slowdown by the end of this year, so for the next few months, we need to get more investors in," he added.

He said the state government had also set up a special task force to ensure smooth implementation of the project and help Ibiden with any problems they may face in setting up their manufacturing facility here.

"I am heading this task force to help speed up the process for Ibiden," he said.

Lim also said a special task force will be set up to help in other significant investment projects in the state costing a minimum of RM1 billion, so that they could deal with any problems or delays immediately.

Earlier, Ibiden's Printed Wiring Board manager executive officer Ito Sotaro said the investment will be split into two phases with the construction of phase one of the factory to start next month and expected to be in full operations by the end of 2009.

"The factory will be manufacturing high performance and high density printed wiring board to cater for increased market demand for mobile phones," he said.

He said the company had started scouting for suitable countries to set up the factory about two years back and had decided on Penang after considering other industrial zones in Malacca, Negri Sembilan, Selangor and Kedah.

When asked if the political situation in Malaysia would have affected their decision, Ibiden Malaysia Sdn Bhd director Jenny Chan said they believed the policy, whether in federal or state levels, is the same and that they trusted the democratic system in this country.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Waive parking charges as promised, DAP told - The Star

May 22, 2008

THE DAP should honour its general election promise of waiving parking charges on Penang island after 6pm and on weekends, said MCA Pengkalan Kota service task force chairman Lee Hack Teik.

He said state DAP secretary Danny Law made the promise in a press conference in June last year.

“The Pakatan Rakyat state government should waive the charges to lessen the financial burden on Penangites.

Lee showing the parking charges listed on a Penang Municipal Council signboard.

“With prices hitting the roof, it will be a good news for the people if parking is free after 6pm and on weekends,” he said.

Lee, who is former Pengkalan Kota assemblyman, said he had received many complaints from Lebuh Cecil residents about the high parking charges there.

Currently, Lee said the half-hourly parking charges were 40 sen in commercial areas and 30 sen in non-commercial areas.

In 2006, he had written to the council to reduce the parking rates and to allow free parking on weekends and public holidays.

“I was told by a council officer that they will look into it but nothing has come out of it,” he said.

When contacted Law, who is state Tourism, Culture, Arts and Heritage committee chairman, admitted he issued the statement last year.

“We will tackle this issue later. Now, we are focusing on more urgent matters,” he said.

In a quandary over council’s status - The Star

May 22, 2008 By DERRICK VINESH

THE state government will consult the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry on the status of the Penang Consumer Affairs Council.

State Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Committee chairman Abdul Malik Abul Kassim said he would seek the ministry’s stand on whether it should continue to operate.

“For now, there is a a state exco committee on consumer affairs, of which I am the head.

“I will find out what will happen to the Penang Consumer Affairs Council now that Pakatan Rakyat is ruling the state,” he said in an interview yesterday.

The council, which came under the ministry’s purview, had about 30 members, mostly from non-governmental organisations, including trade and manufacturing organisations, chambers and guilds.

Under the previous state administration, the state Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs committee chairman was automatically appointed the council president.

Among the council’s past presidents were Lau Chiek Tuan, Datuk Dr Loh Hock Hun and Tan Sri Dr Sak Cheng Lum.

The council also has branches in each district, whereby Barisan Nasional assemblymen were appointed to co-chair the district consumer affairs councils with the respective district officers.

Penang Consumer Protection Association president K. Koris said members of the council, including him, were in the dark about its operations since the Opposition wrested the state government.

“In 2004, former Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon presented me a certificate stating that I was appointed a council member till 2010.

“But, is the appointment still valid under the new state government? he asked, adding that the council last met a few months before the general election in March.

Former South Seberang Prai Consumer Affairs Council co-chairman Tan Cheng Liang said the Federal Government should continue with the council, as it benefited the people.

“The council is an important forum, especially to spread consumer awareness among households, businessmen, youths, housewives and schoolchildren.

“It also monitors the prices of goods and handles complaints against errant traders,” she said.

Tan said the ministry should re-strategise the state Consumer Affairs Council and appoint district officers solely to head its district-level branches in Penang, Kedah, Perak and Selangor

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Four reps appointed to religious panel - The Star

May 21, 2008

THE Penang Government has appointed four state assemblymen from different religions to the Non-Muslim Worship Com-mittee, a state body that deals with complaints and disputes regarding non-Muslim institu-tions.

They are state Town, Country Planning and Housing Committee chairman Wong Hon Wai (Air Itam), state Local Government, Traffic Management and Environment Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow (Padang Kota), Penang Hindu Endowment Board chairman A. Tanasekharan (Bagan Dalam) and Jagdeep Singh Deo (Datuk Keramat).

Wong, who heads the committee, is a Buddhist while, Chow is a Christian, Tanasekharan a Hindu and Jagdeep Singh a Sikh.

Wong said the committee would deal directly with government agencies to expedite the handling of disputes and issues.

“There are many issues when it comes to religion. The committee’s job is to help settle disputes regarding land issues, the loca- tion of new temples, churches and gurdwaras, cemetery place-ments and all other issues that affect non-Muslim religions,” he said.

He said the past state admi- nistration had formed the committee and the appointment of the assemblymen was done at the state exco meeting last Friday.

When asked about the Gurdwara Sahib Bayan Baru Association’s appeal for a 0.4ha piece of land adjoining the Snake Temple in Bayan Lepas, Wong said Jagdeep Singh had highlighted the issue to the committee and they were currently waiting for rele-vant government agencies to pro-vide reports.

He was speaking at the Wesak Float Opening Ceremony 2008 held at the Penang Buddhist Association (PBA) on Monday.

Present were PBA president Datuk Seri Khoo Keat Siew, Penang Wesak Celebrations Com-mittee chairman Datuk Dr Loh Hock Hun and PBA Wesak Float sub-committee chairman Lee Boon Hoe.

Ferry service in Penang will not be scrapped - The Star

BUTTERWORTH: May 21, 2008

The ferry service between here and Penang island will not be scrapped despite losses of more than RM50mil over the past four years.

State Public Works, Utilities and Transportation Committee chairman Lim Hock Seng said the Finance Ministry, which owns service operator Penang Port Sdn Bhd (PPSB), had made it clear that the service must not be stopped for any reason.

“We will instead upgrade the ferry service. We may also introduce catamarans to complement the existing services.

“However, the catamarans will only be used once approval is given by the Federal Government,” he told reporters after attending a briefing on the ferry service and visiting the ferry terminal here yesterday.

PPSB chief operating officer Mohd Niana Merican Abd Kadir Merican said recently that the vehicular ferry service would be scrapped once the expansion of the Penang Bridge was completed in September 2009.

He said the company planned to operate a speedboat ferry service, as it was cheaper and more efficient.

Second Finance Minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop then said that any decision to scrap the ferry service would be made only by the Government.

“We have not decided on anything. The matter has not even been tabled to the Cabinet for consideration. At present, as far as the Finance Ministry is concerned, there is no issue over this,” he said.

Lim said the ferry service was running at a loss due to many reasons, including higher fuel price and low passenger and traffic volume.

PPSB posted a loss of RM12.11mil for its ferry service operations in 2004, RM13.4mil in 2005, RM10.73mil in 2006 and RM14.69mil last year.

Currently, six ferries ply between here and the island while two others are on standby and under maintenance.

The six ferries make 120 trips daily, with each trip costing PPSB RM772. The company makes RM421 for each full-load trip, resulting in a loss of about RM350 for each trip.

Lim said an average of 4,000 cars, 5,500 motorcycles, 500 lorries and 6,000 passengers used the ferry daily.

“All in, 110,560 cars used the ferry last

year compared to 1.24 million cars which crossed the bridge during the period,” he added.

He said PPSB could not raise ferry fares without the Government’s approval despite suffering annual losses.

He added that the service may face a greater challenge when the expansion of the Penang Bridge was completed and the second bridge was ready in 2011.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

CM a fan of Penang hawker fare - The Star

May 20, 2008

DON'T be surprised if you spot Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng at your favourite hawker stalls.

Last Wednesday, he was spotted having lunch at the popular New World Park hawker centre in George Town and the sighting has since been generating a buzz among Penangites who were pleasantly surprised to find themselves dining alongside their chief minister.

Stories on the encounters were featured on shitakarupat. and giddytigers. com by bloggers who took the opportunity to shake hands and pose for pictures with him.

Describing the chance meeting as “priceless”, one blogger labelled him “a really friendly and nice man” while another said he was “very smiley, very cheerful”.

When contacted, his press secretary Cheong Yin Fan said her boss has been known to frequent various hawker centres for a “quick bite”.

When it comes to hawker fare, Lim, who hails from Malacca, has a penchant for char koay teow although he rarely indulges in it.

In a recent interview with The Star after assuming the state’s leadership on March 8, Lim said he loved char koay teow but added he had to deny his guilty pleasure, as it was bad for his health and throat.

“I always end up losing my voice after a plate,” he said.

Sharing her experience, a journalist said she was “genuinely surprised” to find Lim so down to earth.

“I interviewed him together with two other senior reporters just after he moved into the chief minister’s office in Komtar and when it was time for lunch, he invited us to join him.

“He got his staff to ta pau (bring back) a few packets of nasi goreng and mineral water,” she said.

Lim, who has adopted a ‘no formalities’ approach as his personal administrative style, hopes to lead by example.

He usually travels economy class or by a budget airline.

As the chief executive of Pe-nang, Lim is entitled to a business class seat.

The Chief Minister also does not check into luxury-class rooms in hotels, opting instead for a room that is “at least one level down” from what he is accorded

CM: Stop others from doing evil - The Star

PENANG: May 20, 2008

In the fight against evil, it is not enough to merely practise good moral values but it is also important to stop others from doing bad deeds whenever possible and lead them back to the right path, said Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.

“When we talk about fighting evil and wanting to create a more moral and cultured society, we must take initiative to prevent others from doing evil whenever we can,” he said at the opening of the Wesak Day celebrations at the Malaysian Buddhist Association (MBA) on Burmah Road here yesterday.

Lim said that similarly, even if those within the present state go-vernment practised good moral values, they all had to do their part to stop evil from spreading.

Guan Eng pledges to fulfil election promises - NST

BUTTERWORTH: May 20, 2008

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the joint DAP-PKR (Parti Keadilan Rakyat) state government would continue to keep its election promises to the people.

To prove he meant business, he said the state had written to the federal government to abolish the Sungai Nyior toll at the Butterworth Outer Ring Road. He has also raised the issue in Parliament on numerous occasions.

"We are doing our best. However, it will take us some time to resolve the matter.

"After all, this is under the purview of the federal government. We will try to do it before the next general election," he said after attending Wesak Day celebrations at the Butterworth Buddhist Association at Mak Mandin here yesterday.

Also present were state executive councillors Lim Hock Seng and Phee Boon Poh and the association's chairman Phee Boon Chong.

Guan Eng was responding to accusations that the new state government had failed to deliver on its election promises.

The DAP, in its election manifesto, had promised to abolish the Sungai Nyior toll along the RM700 million highway, implemented in September 2006, if it came into power.

Vehicles using the stretch from Seberang Jaya and here are charged between 50 sen and RM1.90.

Since 2004, residents living in the surrounding vicinity and in Seberang Jaya had protested against the toll as many of them use the stretch several times a day.

Guan Eng pledged to fulfil the party's election manifesto and said he would continue to raise issues with the federal government

Monday, May 19, 2008

CM: Initial works on second bridge in advanced stage - The Star

May 19, 2008

Preliminary works on the second Penang bridge are almost completed.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said based on reports from contractors involved in the works, the construction of the new bridge could begin soon.

“Preliminary works like surveys, engineering designs, site clearing, soil investigations, basic construction and testing are almost fini-shed at various stages.

“The rate of completion is quite advanced. What remain are dredging works that are currently 34% completed.

“In this regard, we hope the Federal Government can speed things up in order for the main bridge construction works to be-gin in the shortest possible time,” he said, adding that investors were also interested in the construction phase.

Speaking to reporters at a press conference at his Komtar office after the state exco meeting on Friday, Lim clarified that the state was not questioning the Federal Government’s commitment on the RM4.3bil second bridge.

“It is the speed of the construction that we are worried about. We already know the bridge will not be completed on time,” he said.

The second link, scheduled to be completed on Jan 1, 2011, has been delayed for nine months.

On land acquisition problems for the bridge, Lim said the Federal Government had yet to communicate with the state on the issue.

On drawing up a state crisis management plan, he said the state was concerned of the need to react to disasters quickly and state Health, Welfare and Caring Society committee chairman Phee Boon Poh was working on a state emergency contingency plan.

“One of the new measures by the state is to test the response of relevant relief authorities to disaster by instructing them to distribute financial aid to victims within 24 hours after a disaster.

“This was not done in the past. We are trying to accomplish this in this administration,” he said.

Lim also commented on the billion-ringgit mixed integrated de-velopment project Gurney Paragon, which the Penang Heritage Trust was against, saying the project did not have a traffic dispersal system.

Lim said he sympathised with the Penang Heritage Trust chairman Dr Choong Sim Poey but the approvals for the project were given by the previous administration and thought he (Dr Choong) had exhausted all avenues after PHT’s appeal to the Planning Ap-peals Board was dismissed in March.

He also welcomed the Federal Government’s decision to form a high-powered committee to look into the country’s shortage of gas supply and find solutions at the shortest possible time.

Free specs for 223 pupils - The Star

May 19, 2008

A TOTAL of 223 poor pupils from 11 Tamil schools in the South Seberang Prai district in Penang received free spectacles from the state government.

Deputy Chief Minister II Dr P. Ramasamy handed over the spectacles to the pupils at the SJK (Tamil) Ladang Batu Kawan in Simpang Ampat near Nibong Tebal recently.

Dr Ramasamy, who is also Batu Kawan MP, said the free spectacles programme was initiated by former Barisan Nasional state executive councillor Datuk Dr Toh Kin Woon several years ago.

“We will continue any programme initiated by the previous government if they are beneficial to pupils ,” he said in his speech before handing over the spectacles to the pupils.

Nice fit: Dr Ramasamy adjusting hte spectacles for S. Pavitha.

Also present were Penang Education Department’s Inspector of Tamil Schools A. Veersamy as well as principals and Parent-Teacher Association members of the 11 Tamil schools.

Dr Ramasamy, who is also the State Economic Planning, Education, Human Resources, Science, Technology and Innovation Committee chairman, said the state government would increase the number of the recipients next year.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Penang sees RM3.8b in investments - NST

GEORGE TOWN: May 18, 2008

Penang is expected to attract RM3.8 billion worth of investments by the end of this year.

State InvestPenang executive committee chairman Datuk Lee Kah Choon said as of May, the state had recorded about RM1.9 billion worth of foreign direct investments (FDIs) and local investments.

"The commencement of the Penang Second Bridge and the on-going expansion of Bayan Lepas airport have boosted the transportation of goods.

"Other mega-projects, such as the Penang monorail and Penang Outer Ring Road, once completed, will expedite the influx of investors here," Lee said at Penang Skills Development Centre yesterday.

He said although Penang was supported by an improved road system and reliable sea and air connectivity, it still needed to move up the value chain to stay competitive.

"To make Penang more marketable, the state is finding ways to internationalise the facilities here."

Among the plans mooted to fast-track the arrival of the FDIs are to build more universities, international schools and skills redevelopment centres.

Lee also said more hospitals and biotechnology centres would be built to accommodate the increasing number of medical tourists, as well as research and development teams, respectively.

Penang to continue giving aid to needy despite financial constraints - NST

GEORGE TOWN: May 18, 2008 By Lee Keng Fatt

The state government will continue to provide aid to the needy, including the distribution of free rice to them.

State Health, Welfare and Caring Society Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh said many needy people were unaware that such programme was carried out by the authorities.

"We encourage them to come forward so that we can help them," he said.

Phee said the state government handed out 7,642 packets of rice to the needy in the state's five districts on Friday.

"But I know that are still many out there who were left out," he said, adding that although the state government currently faced financial constraints it would not stop them from caring for and helping the people.

"We will provide aid to them in whatever way we can," he said, urging those in the private sectors to also come forward to assist.

Phee was speaking to reporters after opening the "better hearing and speech" programme organised by the LohGuanLye Specialists Centre at the Caring Society complex in Jalan Scotland today.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Teng: Zoning won’t affect PTC land value - The Star

PENANG: May 17, 2008

The land title of the Penang Turf Club (PTC) is a freehold first grade grant, thus the land zoning status does not make any difference to its value.

Former state local government committee chairman Datuk Teng Hock Nan (pic) said regardless of the status, the landowner still had the right to take the case to the Appeals Board to request the state government to purchase the land should their development plan be rejected.

“Whether it’s zoned as ‘open space/recreational’ or ‘new de-velopment’, they are entitled to submit an application to deve-lop the land for whatever purpose.

“However, the state government has the final say on the type and scale of the development to suit the needs of the state,” Dr Teng told a press conference yesterday.

He was commenting on Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s earlier statement about the previous state government not attempting to rezone the PTC to avoid having to purchase the property from the developer Abad Naluri Sdn Bhd.

Dr Teng said that only the final approved project would determine land value, not the land status as claimed by the latter.

“The current state government is free to im-pose any new condition for the development since the developer has yet to get the planning approval,” he said.

He explained that the previous state authority had rezoned the land when it drew up the structure plan for the whole state for the future planning requirements and directions in Penang.

Dr Teng also said the previous state government had rejected the original plan and had asked for an amendment to reduce the scale of development after almost two years of consideration and deliberation.

He said Lim should stop pushing the blame to the previous government when “the right to decide is in the hands of the new state government.

“Whatever plan that has been submitted is not important, the state government should decide whether to approve in total the RM25bil Penang Global City Centre (PGCC) project or consider to give priority to affordable housing that benefit the people,” he said.

Meanwhile, Lim said former Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon should come clean on the issues concerning the PGCC project.

Lim said Dr Koh was the right person to step forward to address and answer issues like the rezoning of the Penang Turf Club (PTC) land.

“We want him to address the issues brought up as he chaired the State Planning Committee but he had failed to provide answers.”

Regarding future development on the land, Lim said it was for the private landowner to decide.

“Whatever land submission the owner makes will depend on whether the state approves it or not. At the moment, no approval has been given for any development.

“It remains status quo for now. Let us wait until the time comes,” he said.

Project will soon put end to tidal floods - The Star

May 17, 2008

WORK to build three tidal gates at Taman Limbungan along Jalan Chain Ferry in Butterworth has commenced and will be completed in two weeks’ time.

The RM500,000 project, which started on Thursday, is expected to put an end to floods during high tide.

Flood Mitigation Committee chairman Law Choo Kiang and Penang Drainage and Irrigation Department deputy director Mohd Abu Bakar Othman went on a site visit yesterday to inspect the project.

“The new tidal gates have flexible valves and pollutant trap that will make them more effective during high tide,” said Mohd Abu Bakar.

He said the current tidal gates were frequently clogged with rubbish.

Law, who urged the public to stop throwing rubbish indiscriminately, was confident that the tidal gates would solve the tidal flooding woes in the area.

“We are confident the project would settle the problem but if the residents still encounter flooding, please inform us and we would determine what went wrong,” said Law.

Mohd Abu Bakar added that the project was among the 19 components slated under the Sungai Prai Total Solution Rehabilitation project.

“The department had completed three of the components and we hope to finish the project in two years’ time.

“We would address one area at a time according to the urgency and the total cost has been estimated at about RM5mil,” he said, adding that the 19 components were flood prone areas in central and north Seberang Prai that had been identified by the department.

Earlier this month, business along Jalan Chain Ferry was disrupted as tidal wave rose over the 2.4m average, flooding roads and shop houses

Govt plans to gazette padi land - The Star


State Agricultural and Agro-based Industry Committee chairman Law Choo Kiang said the state government wanted to protect the existing 12,163ha of padi fields left in the state and to ensure they did not “disappear” from the state’s agricultural map.

“There are 3,542 padi farmers working on the fields now.

“We are facing a rice crisis and we need to be self-sufficient in the commodity and sustain supply long term.

“We will ask the relevant authorities to provide us with the necessary information so that we can propose to gazette the rice fields at the state executive council meeting,” he said.

He was speaking to reporters after chairing a meeting on issues relevant to his portfolio at the Integrated Agricultural Development Authority (Iada) office in Seberang Jaya in Butterworth on Thursday.

Law said steps must be taken now to protect padi land so that the country would not face any rice crisis.

He said land offices in the state had also been asked to gather information on abandoned land in the state so that the land could be cultivated with padi.

“We have sufficient padi fields to meet local demand for rice and we are pushing the relevant agencies to increase padi output from an average of five metric tonnes now to 10 metric tonnes per hectare by 2010,” he said.

He said the state’s annual production now was 120,000 metric tonnes of padi or 78,000 metric tonnes of rice, enough to fulfil 63% of the local demand of 123,000 metric tonnes of rice.

Law added an additional 16,000 metric tonnes of rice from Thailand and Vietnam would be delivered to Penang next week.

He said it would complement the state’s rice stock of 42,950 metric tonnes which was sufficient for the next six months.

Penang CM: Review cases decided by Eusoff Chin and Ahmad Fairuz


Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng has called for an immediate review of cases, which had been decided by former Chief Justices Tun Eusoff Chin and Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim. He said the review would be the most appropriate redress or remedy to restore the independence and integrity of the country's judiciary and to uphold the rule of law.

Lim said the focus of the probe, if the Attorney-General (AG) ordered for one, should be mainly on Eusoff and Ahmad Fairuz because as judges, they carried a higher responsibility.

He said he was one of those affected by the decisions made by these judges, referring to his 18-month jail term for sedition in 1998 and publishing false news for complaining that the AG did not prosecute former Malacca chief minister Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Tamby Chik for alleged statutory rape.

Lim was asked to comment on the findings of the Royal Commission of Inquiry, which held there was evidence that lawyer Datuk V.K. Lingam, tycoon Tan Sri Vincent Tan, Umno secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Manson, Eusoff, Ahmad Fairuz and former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad were involved in a conspiracy to manipulate the appointment of judges.

On Friday, the Cabinet directed the AG's Chambers to institute immediate investigations into all allegations against the individuals identified in the report.

Lim said people whose lives had been affected by the decisions made Eusoff and Ahmad Fairuz had the right to demand for the cases to be reviewed.

"Justice must not only be seen to be done but in this case, justice has to be done,'' he told reporters after presenting rice aid to 2,013 welfare aid recipients at the Caring Society Complex Saturday.

The state also distributed free rice to 1,149 recipients at the Southwest district office, 1,333 at the North Seberang Prai district welfare office, 1,809 at Dewan Yayasan Aman SMK Penanti in Bukit Mertajam in Central Seberang Prai and 1,338 at Dewan Serbaguna Jawi in South Seberang Prai.

The state had allocated RM130,000 for the programme and had purchased the rice at a lower price of RM16 per sack.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Putting an end to hawkers’ woes - The Star

May 16, 2008

PENANG municipal councillors are visiting markets on the island to identify grievances of petty traders and hawkers.

In a initiative organised by the Penang Municipal Council’s public health standing committee, several councillors and the council’s licen-sing and building officials made their first stop at the Bayan Baru market complex yesterday.

Clogged drains, leaking roofs, illegal hawkers and the lack of security were among complaints expressed by hawkers and traders there.

Seeking solution: Sim (right) talking to Bayan Baru market traders.

“The security is horrible. Thieves break in daily to steal everything from bottled drinks to the doors of the metal cabinets,” said V.N. Rajkiran, 39, whose sister operates an apom stall in the market's food court.

A committee spokesman said the officials and councillors would be visiting other market complexes as well as night and morning markets on Penang island over the next few months.

Councillor Thanaletchumi S. Veeriah said there were many long-standing problems and it was time to get to work.

“We need have an in-depth discussion and comprehensive plan before we can embark on any big changes,” she added.

She said short-term problems such as broken hinges on toilet doors, licensing delays and rodent control could be settled first.

“We are eager to let the public see how we can meet their needs,” Thanaletchumi added.

Also visiting the market were Pantai Jerejak assemblyman Sim Tze Tzin, councillors Lim Cheng Hoe, Chua Kheng Ee, Mohd Ismail Ibramsa, Fauziah Mahadi and Tham Weng Fatt and Bayan Baru Market Traders Association chairman Loh Chai Seng.

PHT: No logic in approval of project - The Star


THE Penang Municipal Council approved the billion-ringgit Gurney Paragon project without knowing if the traffic dispersal system in the area would be in place, according to Penang Heritage Trust (PHT).

PHT chairman Dr Choong Sim Poey who claimed this, added this was because the state’s Penang Outer Ring Road (PORR) and the monorail projects were still pending.

“There is no logic at all in the approval,” he told a press conference in Penang yesterday.

The Gurney Paragon project is a mixed integrated development by Hunza Properties (Penang) Sdn Bhd that consists of two 43-storey ser-vice apartment towers, a 37-storey business tower and other commer-cial buildings.

Under scrutiny: Dr Choong showing a sketch of the Gurney Paragon project.

Dr Choong said that when the matter was brought to the state Planning Appeals Board earlier this year, the council responded that traffic congestion in the area could be overcome with the implementation of the PORR and a mass transit system as well as modification to the traffic system.

“The Ministry of Finance recently announced that the PORR and monorail projects have not reached the approval stage,” he said.

He claimed the modifications would need a massive restructuring of the road systems in the vicinity that would disrupt traffic.

Dr Choong also said that the council maintained that it was not required under the Town and Country Planning Act 1976 to consider the views of NGOs, but only the views of those living within a 20m radius of the project’s boundary.

He said the Planning Appeals Board dismissed the case in March when the sole complainant representing 73 affected residents in the area pulled out.

Dr Choong said the Act was first implemented over 30 years ago when there was no development of this size affecting hundreds of people around the area.

“This project is 2.5 times the size of Komtar. Even when Komtar was built, a comprehensive study of the whole area was done and it was not limited to the 20m radius,” he added.

While he felt that the Act should be amended, he said the council was entitled to use its discretion.

Dr Choong said he wrote to Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and state Local Government, Traffic Management and Environment Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow seeking a review of the planning permis-sion.

On March 24, Lim said the state would get views from all quarters, and would review the project if there were “justifiable grounds”.

When contacted, council president Datuk Zainal Rahim Seman declined to comment, saying that the state government was aware of the situation and that the case had gone through the Planning Appeals Board.

Hunza Properties Bhd executive chairman Datuk Khor Teng Tong declined to comment, saying he would leave the matter to the authorities

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Council orders villager to stop rearing goats - NST

BUKIT MERTAJAM: May 15, 2008

Zainal Rashid showing Seberang Jaya assemblyman Datuk Arif Shah Omar Shah the directive, issued by the Seberang Prai Municipal Council, to remove the goats from his compound. — NST picture by Rosli Ahmad.

A villager who turned his compound into a mini goat breeding farm has been ordered to remove the animals by the local council here.

Zainal Rashid, 50, was also ordered to tear down the sheds that he had built for his 30-odd goats.

The directive was issued by the Seberang Prai Municipal Council (MPSP) following complaints from Zainal's neighbours that they could no longer bear the stench.

An MPSP spokesman said Zainal had applied to rear goats last year but it was turned down by the council as the site was not suitable for farming.

"His house is too close to a housing area. We also issued a notice to him December last year to get rid of his goats. However, he did not do so and we compounded him in March," he said.

The spokesman said Zainal would have to abide by the council's latest directive or face the consequences.

Meanwhile, Zainal contended that the goats were always kept within his house compound and there was no reason for his neighbours to complain. He claimed to have spent RM15,000 to improve his goat sheds early this year.

"I handle their waste properly to ensure the smell does not affect my neighbours," he said, adding he had been keeping the goats for four years.

Zainal said he had no other place to shift the goats and hoped that the council would consider his appeal to be allowed to keep the animals.

Meanwhile, Seberang Jaya assemblyman Datuk Arif Shah Omar Shah said he would arrange a meeting between MPSP, the residents and Zainal next week to solve the matter.

"I understand that he is depending on the goats to supplement his income but at the same time we must also take the other residents' complaints seriously."

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Lim dituduh cuba gugat Umno - Malaysiakini

Muda Mohd Noor | May 14, 08 4:52pm

Beberapa pemimpin Umno Pulau Pinang mendakwa ketua menteri, Lim Guan Eng cuba mewujudkan suasana syak wasangka sehingga berlaku tuduh menuduh di kalangan mereka

Mereka juga menganggap kenyataan Lim bahawa seorang pemimpin veteran Umno bersetuju menerima tawaran untuk berkhidmat dengan kerajaan negeri, sebagai khabar angin yang tidak berasas dan tidak boleh dipercayai.

Ketua Umno bahagian Bukit Mertajam, Datuk Musa Fadzir berkata, Lim (foto) mahu mengacau parti lain untuk memecahbelahkan perpaduan di kalangan ahli Umno negeri.

"Dia tidak membuat kerja tetapi sebaliknya mahu Umno berpecah belah dan menimbulkan suasana tidak harmoni di kalangan penyokong dan ahli.

"Saya cabar jika benar ada pemimpin Umno yang telah menyertai kerajaan negeri, Lim umumkan nama pemimpin tersebut untuk pengetahuan umum.

"Beliau tidak perlu bersembunyi atau merahsiakannya jika apa yang dicakapkan itu benar. Usah membuat orang ramai menjadi keliru," katanya ketika dihubungi hari ini.

Bagaimanapun, Musa berkata, pihaknya akan terus memantau perkara tersebut di samping mengenalpasti pemimpin yang dimaksudkan itu jika ianya benar.

Khabar angin

"Saya dan beberapa rakan lain telah menghubungi para pemimpin yang disyaki tetapi mereka menafikan," katanya.

Sementara itu, ketua wanita Umno negeri, Datuk Jahara Hamid berkata, dakwaan bahawa ada pemimpin veteran Umno telah menyertai kerajaan negeri adalah rekaan dan khabar angin.

Katanya, cerita tersebut sama seperti ahli parlimen Barisan Nasional (BN) yang dikatakan mahu parti ke Pakatan Rakyat tetapi ia hanya khabar angin semata-mata.

"Ini cerita politik sahaja kerana kedudukan sebenarnya, tiada seorang pun pemimpin Umno yang berbuat demikian," katanya lagi.

Manakala ketua pemuda Umno bahagian Bukit Mentajam, Ramlan Ishak berkata, beliau telah bertanyakan mengenai perkara tersebut kepada beberapa pemimpin veteran Umno tetapi semuanya menafikan beliau berbuat demikian.

Katanya, beberapa nama dikaitkan dengan berita tersebut, termasuk Tan Sri Khalid Ahmad, seorang veteran Umno negeri itu, tetapi beliau telah menafikannya.

"Begitu juga dengan beberapa pemimpin veteran lain seperti Datuk Seri Mohd Shariff Omar dan Datuk Seri Ibrahim Saad (ketua Umno Batu Kawan). Mereka juga telah menafikannya," katanya lagi.

'Terima tawaran'

Beliau berkata, pemimpin yang dimaksudkan oleh Lim itu mungkin kawan-kawan rapat bekas timbalan perdana menteri, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Ahad lalu, Lim mengesahkan bahawa seorang pemimpin veteran Umno telah menerima tawaran untuk berkhidmat dengan kerajaan negeri.

Beliau berkata pemimpin itu menerima tawaran tersebut setelah meletak jawatannya dalam Umno.

"Kami menawarkan beliau untuk menyertai kami dalam kerajaan negeri demi kepentingan rakyat negeri ini.

"Saya akan membuat pengumuman rasmi berkenaan perkara itu dan akan memberitahu nama pemimpin itu pada masa yang sesuai nanti," katanya kepada pemberita selepas majlis pembukaan pusat khidmat DAP Perai hari ini.

Menurut laporan Bernama, Lim berkata surat pelantikan telah diserahkan kepada pemimpin itu.

Beliau berkata pemimpin itu akan menyertai kerajaan negeri dalam tempoh terdekat ini, tetapi enggan mengulas lanjut mengenai jawatan yang ditawarkan.

Penang to come down hard on errant developers - NST

GEORGE TOWN, WED: May 14, 2008 By Sharanjit Singh

The Penang state government has warned developers that it would come down hard on those which fail to comply with construction regulations when undertaking projects.

To show it means business, a Singaporean property owner undertaking construction work on a new wing at the popular Gurney Plaza shopping mall here is set to be penalised for flouting the law.

The developer had been continuing construction work until 3am on most days despite being warned not to do so. The developer, which is only allowed to do construction work from 8am to 6pm, had been issued the warning in April but it ignored it.

A visibly annoyed chief minister Lim Guan Eng today decided to look into the matter himself by visiting the construction site facing Kelawei Road here.

Lim told off the developer and impressed upon its directors to comply with the law.

"I am angry and disappointed that they did not heed the warning that was issued to them by the local authorities.

"This may be an important project but I hope they will show the same compliance to the law as they do in Singapore," he said, adding the state government would decide on further punitive measures against the developer soon.

Lim also made it clear that unlike in the past, developers must now comply with guidelines and provisions issued to them or they would be penalised.

Lim said developers who may face difficulty with certain provisions issued to them should discuss with the local authorities instead of arbitrarily breaking the law.

Teng slams 'ignorant' Lim - NST

Datuk Dr Teng Hock Nan responding yesterday to recent accusations by Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng

GEORGE TOWN: May 14, 2008 By Audrey Dermawan

A former state executive councillor has branded Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng an ignorant and naive person and accused him of playing politics on the proposed Penang Global City Centre (PGCC) project issue.

Datuk Dr Teng Hock Nan, who is Gerakan vice-president and the former state local government committee chairman, also said Lim was unfit to be chief minister.

"To me, he has not even started his functions as the chief minister and I am not going to refer to him as one yet. I will just refer to him as Lim Guan Eng for now," he said at the state Gerakan headquarters yesterday.

The press conference was held in response to repeated calls from the media for him to comment following Lim's accusation that the former state government had misled the prime minister about the project.

Dr Teng said Lim was merely playing to the gallery and putting up a show.

He said any allegation hurled by Lim against him and former chief minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon on the PGCC project was baseless and a result of Lim's ignorance.

He added that there was no need for Lim to make queries about the project in public when he could easily obtain the answers from his officers and other sources.

Dr Teng answered point-by-point and at length the questions raised by Lim about the PGCC on Sunday.

To Lim's assertion that the former state government should apologise to the prime minister for misleading him and inviting him to the launch when the project had not even been approved, Dr Teng said the invitation was from the developer Equine Capital Bhd and not the then state government.

He stressed that even state government officials were at the launch as invited guests and played no part in organising the event.

"The prime minister was merely launching the conceptual plan and he was aware that no approval was given yet.

"The prime minister himself requested, during the launch, that the state government facilitate and assist in the approval of the project," he said, adding that this was similar to other projects in the Northern Corridor Economic Region development plan.

As such, Dr Teng said the question of misleading the prime minister did not arise.

To another question as to why the state government allowed the developer to sell and promote the project despite the fact that no approval had been given, Dr Teng said: "If the developer wants to do a conceptual launch or promote the project, we cannot stop them. Also, we were not aware what the developer was promoting."

On the move to rezone the Turf Club land from recreational/open space to new development in the state structural plan, Dr Teng said it was done so that the land could be developed in the future.

"As far as I am concerned, any development can take place on the land and it is not confined to the PGCC project.

"You must understand that this is a private land which belongs to a private club and since there was an application to develop it, we figured that it was best to include it into the structural plan.

"After all, the structural plan charts the long-term development needs of the state."

Meanwhile, in an immediate response, Lim Guan Eng said he had no plans to resort to a personal attack. Lim said all the state government wanted were answers based on facts.

"I will not resort to a personal attack, let's see what Dr Teng has to say in the newspapers tomorrow before I answer him," he said yesterday.

Escalating prices of essentials goods hurting hawkers - The Star

May 14, 2008

TRADERS in Seberang Jaya have asked Domestic Trade and Con-sumer Affairs Minister Datuk Shahril Samad to stop talking but take immediate actions to resolve the escalating prices of essential goods.

Jalan Tenggiri Food Court Petty Traders Association chairman Azmi Razak said the minister should go down to the ground and check for himself the prices of such goods that had been on the increase over the past two months.

“Please don’t just make state-ments saying the prices of this and that are under control. We know better than him as we are directly affected by the increase.

“We go to the retail outlets to get our supply daily and we know the prices have gone up drastically.

Proof:Azmi(second left)and members of the association showing receipts of foods purchased to Arif Shah to back up their claims.

“The prices of flour, rice, con-densed milk, margarine and meat have increased by between 50% and 100% over the past two months.

“Some of our members have also resorted to the services of Ah Longs to borrow money as they cannot afford to pay their debts to their suppliers,” he said.

Azmi said the mechanism intro-duced by the minister to control the price of rice had not worked out well as the price of the commodity had shot up by 50% within the past two weeks.

“How can we make profits when the prices of goods keep on increasing. We will be blamed if we increase the prices of food we sell but nobody knows that we are actually suffering,” he added.

A trader, Mohamad Ibrahim Syed Ibrahim, who sells roti canai at the food court, said he used to buy a 25kg sack of flour at RM32.15 over two weeks ago but he had to pay RM62.15 for the same amount now.

Mohamad Ibrahim also showed receipts for goods he purchased two weeks ago and two days ago to show the difference in the prices as proof to his claims.

“Can the minister explain this?” he asked.

“I don’t think I want to do business if it causes me to lose out. I might go and look for other jobs,” he said.

He said the price of imported meat also went up by 50% while the price of 18kg margarine went up by 75%.

Seberang Jaya assemblyman Datuk Arif Shah Omar Shah urged the Government to add- ress the problem as they had been badly affected by the price increase.

“The Government should work out an effective mechanism to check the problem as it is really happening and not merely claims,” he said.

Umno: Keep promises ovt - The Star


THE 11 Umno assemblymen in Penang will haunt the Pakatan Rakyat state government until their counterparts honour all their promises made during the last general election.

State Umno liaison committee secretary Datuk Azhar Ibrahim said they would not let the new state government off the hook.

“They are talking about competency, accountability and transparency. I have not heard of them saying anything about honouring the promises including abolishing the Sungai Nyior toll and RM6,000 payment for each Penangite.

“The next assembly sitting will be the best place for us to demand that they tell the people whether they will fulfil their election promises,” he said in an interview at his service centre in Penaga, Kepala Batas, yesterday.

Azhar said if they failed to do so, Umno would brand them as a bunch of liars who had duped the people to vote for them.

He said PKR leaders were using mosques and suraus to promote their political ideologies and accusing the previous state government of corruption.

“They are now in power and should focus on ways to develop the state and help the people.

“Instead, they are still in their old mindset as an Opposition party smearing the image of Umno leaders,” he said.

Azhar said if they have proof that Umno leaders were corrupt, they should lodge reports with the Anti-Corruption Agency or the police.

To date, he said none of them had done so.

On claims by certain Umno leaders that the party in Penang had not carried out any post mortem on the Barisan Nasional defeat in the elections, Azhar said each division had submitted their post mortem reports directly to the Umno supreme council.

He said the state liaison committee did not carry out any post mortem as it would overlap the ones submitted by the divisions.

Gerakan VP: Guan Eng naive, ignorant or playing politics - The Star

PENANG: May 14, 2008

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng is naive, ignorant or merely playing politics, says Gerakan.

Its vice-president Datuk Dr Teng Hock Nan said that Lim seemed to be asking questions through the media for answers which he could easily get from his officers, reports, documents and briefings.

“I am saying he is naive because all the questions he has been asking can be easily obtained because he has access to all the information,” he told a press conference yesterday.

Dr Teng said this showed that Lim was not ready to take on responsibility as a chief minister.

“I do not know whether to call him Chief Minister or just Lim Guan Eng,” he said.

Dr Teng, who is a former state executive councillor, also hit out at Lim for asking him and former chief minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon to apologise to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi for misleading the latter on the proposed RM25bil Penang Global City Centre (PGCC) project.

Lim had said that Abdullah was invited to launch the proposed project last year when the Penang local authorities had yet to approve the project.

Dr Teng said he was appalled that Lim had made such baseless statements.

“The Prime Minister was fully aware during the soft launch that the local authorities had yet to approve the planning permit.

“That was why the Prime Minister requested the state government to facilitate the process,” he said, adding that the project was proposed on private land owned by the Penang Turf Club.

Dr Teng also clarified that it was the developer who invited the Prime Minister and state authorities as part of their marketing strategy.

Meanwhile, Lim said he regretted Dr Teng’s personal attack against him.

He said all the state government wanted, when it questioned why the Prime Minister was invited to launch the PGCC project when it had yet to be approved by the local authorities, were answers based on facts.

“Instead of answering the state government’s questions to him, Dr Teng has launched a personal attack against me,” Lim told reporters after receiving a courtesy call from Korean ambassador to Malaysia Bong Ryull Yang.

Lim said he would reply to Dr Teng today.

Penang govt looking to improve crisis management - The Sun

GEORGE TOWN (May 13, 2008): By Opalyn Mok

The government is looking into ways to improve crisis management by the various state departments, especially those related to tourism matters like Penang Hill.

Komtar assemblyman and political secretary to the Chief Minister Ng Wei Aik admitted that there were weaknesses in the way the two breakdowns in the funicular railway train service were managed last month.

"For this, we apologise for whatever shortcomings especially in the way we handled it and how we responded to it," he told TheSun today in response to a complaint by a tourist who was one of those stranded on Penang Hill.

"We are now working at improving crisis management and upgrading the whole system so that we can better respond to such situations at the shortest time possible," he said.

"We are also in the process of hiring a full-time technician to be based at the Penang Hill stations and also deploy technicians from the Public Works Department to ensure that there is a technician on standby at all times.

"We would like to apologise to all the tourists and passengers who were left stranded during those two incidents," he said.

The funicular railway train system was disrupted by a cable problem on April 15 and again on April 23 by a burnt capacitor in the electrical panel after it was struck by lightning.

Ng had claimed that in the second incident, all 102 passengers who were stranded were ferried down the hill in four 4WD vehicles at around 10.30pm.

A 60-year-old tourist from the United Kingdom, David Robinson, sent an email to theSun claiming that not all the passengers were taken down by 4WD vehicles but had to walk through a jungle track in the dark to the next platform in April 23 incident.

"We all had to walk down very narrow steps in the rain after two hours of waiting without knowing what had happened," he wrote.

He claimed that after reaching the platform, they were ushered out to a dark unlit jungle track to walk down to another platform before they took another train down to the bottom station.

"When we got to the foot of the hill, there was no one in authority to apologise and to explain the incident. I was very disappointed at the poor behaviour of the authority," he said.

He added that the incident had "coloured his enjoyment of the country" and that the authorities in charge of Penang Tourism need a wake-up call to put this right.

He suggested that there should be a safe and lighted pathway to be in place if it was the only alternative to access the middle station.

"There should also be polite explanations to passengers and apologies for the incident," he added