OUT OF CON­TROL!

New Straits Times - - Front Page -

THE num­ber of hill­s­lope de­vel­op­ment projects in Pe­nang ap­proved by the DAP-led gov­ern­ment is at least eight times more than the pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tion. The cab­i­net re­cently dis­cussed the ef­fects of the cat­a­strophic Nov 4 floods that crip­pled the is­land.

GE­ORGE TOWN: Barisan Na­sional claims the DAP-led state gov­ern­ment played dirty by amend­ing a mo­tion to halt all hill­s­lope de­vel­op­ments pend­ing mea­sures taken by de­vel­op­ers.

State op­po­si­tion leader Datuk Ja­hara Hamid (BN-Teluk Ayer Tawar) said the state gov­ern­ment had mis­used the voice of the ma­jor­ity to amend the ini­tial mo­tion tabled by a BN rep­re­sen­ta­tive at the state leg­isla­tive as­sem­bly sit­ting.

The move to amend the mo­tion prompted BN back­benchers to stage a walk­out in protest as Ja­hara said it was akin to “dirty pol­i­tics” aimed at si­lenc­ing them, just like how the gov­ern­ment acted against con­cerned non-gov­ern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tions (NGOs) and the peo­ple.

Datuk Dr Muhamad Farid Saad (BN-Pu­lau Be­tong) had ear­lier tabled the mo­tion to call for a halt to hill­s­lope de­vel­op­ments with im­me­di­ate ef­fect un­til the de­vel­op­ers im­ple­mented a wa­ter dis­per­sal plan and strength­ened the soil and hill­slopes, re­lated to their planning per­mis­sion.

Farid had urged the state gov­ern­ment to not ap­prove any projects 76m above sea level and stressed the mo­tion was re­lated to pub­lic in­ter­est as Pe­nang had been suf­fer­ing from floods and land­slides.

“Any ap­proval for de­vel­op­ments on hill­slopes has to be ac­cord­ing to the Pe­nang Struc­ture Plan 2020,” he said when tabling the mo­tion.

Deputy Chief Min­is­ter I Datuk Mohd Rashid Has­non (PKR-Pan­tai Jer­jak), how­ever, pro­posed an amend­ment to the mo­tion.

Rashid pro­posed that a joint com­mit­tee, in­volv­ing both fed­eral and state govern­ments, ad­dressed the im­pli­ca­tions of cli­mate change.

He also called for de­vel­op­ments, es­pe­cially in en­vi­ron­men­tally-sen­si­tive ar­eas, to be re­viewed by the joint com­mit­tee, so that all de­vel­op­ment planning pro­pos­als were con­trolled and mon­i­tored thor­oughly.

“These are ef­forts to op­press us, just like how they did with NGOs and the peo­ple,” Ja­hara said, adding that the DAP-led gov­ern­ment had no choice but to sup­port the mo­tion.

“That is why they are amend­ing our mo­tion in­stead,” she said af­ter the walk­out.

As the BN as­sem­bly­men stood to leave the au­gust house, sev­eral DAP as­sem­bly­men la­belled them as “cow­ards”, while Chief Min­is­ter Lim Guan Eng (DAP-Air Pu­tih) told them not to step out of the hall.

“Why didn’t any of their as­sem­bly­men ta­ble this ear­lier? Why must they amend our mo­tion?” ques­tioned an en­graged Farid be­fore he walked out with other BN as­sem­bly­men.

When the speaker called for the as­sem­bly­men to rise in sup­port of the amend­ment, all stood up ex­cept for the nine BN as­sem­bly­men.

The amended mo­tion was then ap­proved in the as­sem­bly.

“This was not the first time they did this. They took our mo­tion and amended it to make it theirs by us­ing their ma­jor­ity power,” Farid said.

He said there was a clear dif­fer­ence be­tween his mo­tion and the amend­ment tabled by Rashid.

He said his mo­tion would en­able the state to take charge and stop all hill­s­lope de­vel­op­ments, but the amended mo­tion tabled only mon­i­tors such de­vel­op­ments.

“The ul­ti­mate power is with the state Planning Com­mit­tee, but now they are drag­ging in the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment as well,” he said.

GE­ORGE TOWN: Pe­nang is ex­pected to ex­pe­ri­ence a bud­get deficit at the end of the year de­spite con­stantly boast­ing about achiev­ing a sur­plus at the end of each fi­nan­cial year.

Chief Min­is­ter Lim Guan Eng said the state was likely to record a bud­get deficit this year be­cause of dam­age suf­fered from two mas­sive floods.

“We ex­pect to record a RM667 mil­lion deficit for this year.

“Be­fore the floods, we were on our way to achieve a bud­get sur­plus again.

“Due to the flood dam­age, it will be dif­fi­cult for us,” he said on the side­line of the state leg­isla­tive as­sem­bly sit­ting here yes­ter­day.

For the Sept 15 flood, the Pe­nang gov­ern­ment an­nounced a one-off RM400 as­sis­tance for more than 7,000 flood vic­tims.

Re­cently, the state gov­ern­ment again an­nounced a one-off as­sis­tance of RM500 per house­hold for 100,000 vic­tims af­fected by the floods on Nov 4, which was part of its RM100 mil­lion al­lo­ca­tion for the “Pu­lau Pi­nang Bangkit” pro­gramme. Non-gov­ern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tions had come for­ward and made do­na­tions to the flood vic­tims. A to­tal of RM9.6 mil­lion had been re­ceived by the state trea­surer.

Lim said the money would be used to give an ad­di­tional RM200, on top of the RM500 al­lo­cated for each house­hold.

“This means that Pe­nang folk will get a to­tal of RM700 per house­hold.

“This in­volves a RM20 mil­lion fund­ing. The state gov­ern­ment will add on the re­main­ing money from the do­na­tions re­ceived, if needed.”

Forms will be dis­trib­uted to the flood vic­tims from Nov 20 on­wards.

Ear­lier, dur­ing his wind­ing-up speech, Lim clar­i­fied that the dis­count on wa­ter bills for com­mer­cial users would be 25 per cent for two months, which would in­volve two cy­cles, in­stead of one, as an­nounced ear­lier.

“The to­tal funds al­lo­cated for the Pu­lau Pi­nang Bangkit pro­gramme is RM105 mil­lion and not RM100 mil­lion as an­nounced pre­vi­ously.”

Lim Guan Eng

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