Monday, April 28, 2008

Koh: Projects must go on - The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: April 28, 2008

All Federal Government projects committed before the March 8 elections must be carried out for the benefit of the people of Penang, Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon said.

The former Penang chief minister said this included the Second Bridge and the Monorail projects.

He denied the Federal Government was giving the Pakatan Rakyat Government in Penang a hard time and punishing Penangites for voting in the then Opposition.

“I would be the first to disagree if the intention is to punish Penangites,” he told reporters yesterday after chairing the Gerakan central working committee meeting.

The Gerakan acting president said he had already made his stand as early as in the first week after the general election – that all federal projects in the state should go on.

He stressed that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had also made this clear. “As far as the Second Bridge is concerned, it’s already committed, and should go ahead.”

However, he pointed out that in big infrastructure projects like the Penang Second Bridge or the Monorail, there were bound to be technical and financial problems, which would result in some delays regardless of whether the state was under the Barisan or Pakatan.

He said delays to the bridge project started even before March 8.

On Saturday, Second Finance Minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop said mega projects in the state like the Monorail and the Penang Outer Ring Road might not take off as they had not reached “approval” stage yet.

To this, Dr Koh said, there was some confusion over the Monorail project.

He said before March 8, the state government spent a lot of time discussing and engaging Federal Government departments on the project, and four companies had submitted proposals, each with different alignments.

In Petaling Jaya, Nor Mohamed said the Federal Government was sincere about working with the Pakatan-led Penang government, and had no intention of cancelling projects announced under the 9th Malaysia Plan.

He said the three-hour Penang Federal Action Council meeting which he chaired on Saturday was to call for more cooperation with the state government, accelerate projects and overcome problems such as land acquisition, and to discuss cost controls.

“The Prime Minister has said that he is the Prime Minister for all. It applies to Penangites as well. The election is behind us now,” he said.

“Projects under the 9MP will continue to be implemented subject to details and procedures, including land acquisition. We will cooperate with the state government in the interest of Penangites.”

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