OUT OF CONTROL!
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