June 3, 2016
Irate Expat takes on Penang’s Chief Minister Guan Eng over Traffic and Development
by Predeep Nambiar
Businesswoman from China raises concerns about development, saying ‘Why must Penang be like Singapore or Hong Kong? Penang must remain calm, beautiful’
Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng spent five minutes calming down a frustrated expatriate who had complained about worsening traffic and uncontrolled development in the state.
Chinese national Sophia Zhou, vented her frustration at Lim as he was leaving the Golden Screen Cinemas in Gurney Plaza last night. Zhou, who has businesses in Europe, raised concerns about the need for an undersea tunnel and uncontrolled development in Penang.
Penang–Still Pearl of the Orient
Lim had just opened the Penang Le French Festival, accompanied by French Ambassador to Malaysia Christophe Penot. Lim, who appeared unfazed with her comments, calmly explained to her that with progress came development and the need for proper transport infrastructure.
“Do you know that The Aga Khan Trust has an agreement with the Penang government to develop our heritage city?The fact that they want to come here means they are confident that Penang can promise a sustainable development,” he said.
Zhou then related her experience when she first moved to Penang under the Second Home programme. “When we arrived five to 10 years ago, there were hardly any tall buildings around. Right now, everywhere there are buildings. Now you want to build a third bridge,” Zhou said.
To this, Lim said the government was keen on building a tunnel, and the third bridge remained an option if the Federal Government allowed it. Lim then told Zhou that the undersea tunnel would only be ready 12 years from now in 2027.
Zhou also queried why the contract and land was given to a Chinese company. Lim then explained to her that a Malaysian company won an open tender to build the tunnel.
It had been reported previously that the entire Penang Tunnel project was awarded to joint venture company Consortium Zenith-BUCG Sdn Bhd, which comprises Zenith Construction from Malaysia and Beijing Urban Construction Group (BUCG) from China.
Later, Zhou commented that the Penang Government should focus on building reliable public transport instead of roads. She suggested to Lim perhaps a subway (underground train system) could be built.
“I think public transport needs to be improved. I waited 40 minutes for a bus. Why don’t you build a subway? There are too many cars on the roads and we are often stuck in traffic.
Lim then said: “That is why we are building an LRT system. Subways are expensive.” The Chief Minister was then led off by Penot.
Zhou then addressed the media present, asking: “Why must Penang be like Singapore or Hong Kong? Why can’t it be what Penang is supposed to be? Calm and beautiful.”