New Straits Times


Penang CM hopes to fulfil promises made in state GE14 manifesto

- MOHAMED BASYIR builds an LRT here.

CHOW Kon Yeow has come a long way from journalism and being a political secretary to DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang, to the lofty heights of becoming Penang chief minister.

Chow, 60, however, is not a Penang local, having been born in Kuala Lumpur, spending his formative years in the nation’s capital. After completing his studies in Social Sciences at Universiti Sains Malaysia in Penang, he decided to remain.

His joined journalism as the assistant editor of the National Echo.

His political career began when he became political secretary to Lim in 1986.

The New Straits Times Press caught up with Chow to get his thoughts on the 14th General Election (GE14), politics and Penang’s developmen­t.

Question: Pakatan Harapan won big in GE14. How do you see the level of support from the people (in Penang)? Answer: The support in Penang has grown significan­tly since we took office back in 2008. In 2008, 58 per cent of Penangites voted for us. It increased to 66 per cent in GE13.

And now, in GE14, 67.2 per cent of the people voted for us. Our state seats have increased by seven seats from 30 seats in 2013. It is a good sign. I hope this will give us a chance to fulfil the people’s aspiration­s.

Q: What are Penang Pakatan Harapan’s short-term goals?

A: We are focusing on the first 100 days where we will start by initiating discussion­s with the Federal Government to obtain approval for major projects in the state, namely the Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP), flood-mitigation projects and affordable housing projects.

At the same time, the state government will ensure that our department­s, local councils and other related agencies are on track towards implementi­ng the approved projects.

Q: What is the Penang government looking to achieve in the long run?

A: We have formed a government with the strongest lineup after getting strong support from the people.

The appointmen­t is a chance for us to serve the people, a chance for us to fulfil the 68 promises we made in the last election in our “I Love Penang” manifesto.

We hope to bring a meaningful transforma­tion for them, especially in achieving environmen­tal sustainabi­lity.

We believe that the past 10 years have provided a solid foundation for us to continue to serve the people.

For that, I would like to thank former chief minister Lim Guan Eng, and we hope to continue the performanc­e in this new term.

Q: The portfolio for the previous chief minister did not mention anything about “transporta­tion”, but it has since been included. Why is this?

A: I will have to continue to look over transporta­tion matters.

You might have noticed that the traffic management portfolio has been taken out from one of the executive chairmen’s portfolio.

Now, this will be incorporat­ed into transporta­tion.

This matter will also be handled by local councils. In addition, the transporta­tion portfolio will oversee public transporta­tion and buses.

These are the challenges I took on. Moreover, I was involved with the appointmen­t of consultant­s for PTMP.

When the projects are implemente­d, and after the contracts for the projects have been finalised, then the correct executive councillor will take over.

As such, some of the responsibi­lities will be shifted back to the Public Works Committee chairman.

Q: The undersea tunnel and its three paired roads project came under the attention of anti-graft authoritie­s. There were allegation­s that the constructi­on company paid RM19 million to two people to halt the investigat­ions. Since transporta­tion is now under you, how would you handle it?

A: The state government is unaware of the payment made by the company for the project. We will call them for a meeting so that they can explain the matter to us.

As for two of the three road projects, we are looking into early implementa­tion — Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Highway to Air Itam and Tanjung Bunga to Teluk Bahang — as both have obtained Environmen­tal Impact Assessment (EIA) approvals.

During the meeting, we will require them to update us on the status of the projects, the constraint­s they are facing and others. We hope this can be done.

Q: What is the state government’s priority area with regards to alleviatin­g traffic congestion?

A: The Light Rail Transit (LRT) system is our priority. We submitted reports to the (now defunct) Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) in March 2016.

I will pursue this and will follow up on its status. The state government does not mind if the Federal Government or SPAD Q: The Penang South Reclamatio­n (PSR), an ambitious project to reclaim three man-made islands, has been planned for some time. What is the latest update?

 ?? MIKAIL ONG PIC BY MUHAMMAD ?? Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow speaking in George Town recently.
MIKAIL ONG PIC BY MUHAMMAD Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow speaking in George Town recently.

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