Big biz rape of Penang continues, aided by Pakatan
We need to alleviate the traffic congestion as well as to improve links so you’ll make the two halves of Penang into one.
LIM GUAN ENG
Penang chief minister, on Thursday
By the time they’re done, they will fill in the sea between the island and the mainland. Politicians and big business — a lethal combination
IN THE WORKS:
- Tunnel from Gurney Drive to Butterworth
- 4.2km elevated highway from Gurney Drive, to coastal expressway
- 4.6km tunnel and highway from Ayer Itam to expressway
- 740 acres of land reclamation at Tanjung Tokong to Gurney Drive
- Reclamation of 350 acres at Middle Bank between bridge and Weld Quay
The rape of Penang island and destruction of what makes George Town and Penang different is being renewed with ferocity, three years after the general elections of 2008 put a stop to grandiose plans by the previous Umno-Gerakan big business consortium. On Thursday morning, the Penang government signed an understanding with a Chinese company for a cross-Channel tunnel, and elevated highways and tunnel in George Town city.
Lim Guan Eng, the chief minister, had announced plans two days ago for an Inner Ring Road, from Gurney Drive to the expressway, and for a tunnel and highway from Ayer Itam to the expressway. The cost was estimated at more than RM4bn — leading to questions of how the Penang government planned to finance it.
On Thursday, he coyly refused to reveal the cost. After signing the agreement with Beijing Urban Construction Group Co Ltd, witnessed by the prime ministers of Malaysia and China, Najib Razak and Wen Jiabao, he said: “We need to alleviate the traffic congestion as well as to improve links so you’ll make the two halves of Penang into one.”
Earlier this month, he said Penang would tear up its development master plan and go along with Najib Razak’s announcement that Penang would be developed by the federal government to be the country’s third metropolis, after Kuala Lumpur and Johor Baru.
Najib’s government has announced plans to swallow up the Klang Valley through its plans for a Greater Kuala Lumpur, with massive urbanisation for 10 million people. Johor Baru is living in the shadows of the Iskandar development, which calls for development and urbanisation on an area three times the size of Singapore.
Earlier this week, the Penang Hill Railway reopened after a RM70mil redevelopment, in which a 100-year-old railway viaduct, and Middle Station were destroyed. The funicular railway, which was unique in Asia, now travels up Penang Hill in a matter of 10 minutes. Some visitors this week were reported to have said the trip was too quick.
The plans for new land reclamation by E&O Property were approved by the state government last week. The company has already reclaimed 240 acres of sea off Tanjung Tokong to Pantai Molek, and the new reclamation will engulf the whole bay from Tanjung Tokong to Gurney Drive.
The company had won approval from the previous Barisan Nasional government for its plans, which call for the creation of three man-made islands in the sea off Gurney Drive.
On the eastern coastline:
On the eastern shore, reclamation is proceeding near the Penang Bridge for condominiums and commercial buildings on the seaward side of the new coastal expressway.
Soon only the rich will have access to the sea.
See what’s left of Penang now. In a decade it won’t be any different from KL, full of cars and highways. And the planners and politicians, officials and developers will be laughing all the way to their banks.
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