Sunday, May 4, 2008

Penang to scrap ‘Mini Putrajaya’ project - The Star

PENANG: May 4, 2008

The new state government will scrap the proposed centralised state government administration centre nicknamed “Mini Putrajaya”, which was mooted by the Barisan Nasional government in 2001.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the state would not pursue any project that was “too expensive”.

“We are not going to go on the heavy expenditure projects,” he said in an interview.

Lim, however, said the state had other plans for the 20ha reclaimed land north of the Bayan Bay project near the Penang Bridge on the island.

“We have other plans to bring development to that area, which would benefit the state and people. The plans would be announced at the right time,” he said.

Former Penang chief minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon had announced the RM30mil mini Putrajaya project in 2001 as the new government’s administration centre.

He had said the site on the reclaimed land belonging to the Penang Development Corporation (PDC) was chosen because its location was more central to the state’s population distribution.

The project, known as Bayan Mutiara, was expected to house the offices of the Chief Minister, his deputy, state exco members, state assemblymen, state secretary and state financial officer as well as the new state assembly hall and Speaker’s office.

Dr Koh had also said that once the government administration offices were relocated, there were plans to turn the 65-storey Komtar tower into a hotel or commercial centre.

The state government then had also announced plans of converting the state assembly building in Light Street into an art gallery.

However, the Bayan Mutiara project drew flak from ratepayers and public interest groups who felt that it was a waste of taxpayers’ money.

In May 2003, Dr Koh said the project would be deferred indefinitely due to economic slowdown.

In an interview early this month, Lim said there was a need to “rejuvenate” Komtar, which was opened to the public in 1974, in view of its strategic position as the “heart” of the state government.

Komtar assemblyman Ng Wei Aik in a recent interview carried in the StarMetro North said that the Komtar restructuring committee would work on a new “Komtar concept”, which may include ideas of transforming Komtar into a digital or IT centre.

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