20th December 2020
Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong should break his silence and direct both PPC and PPSB to stop their preparations to terminate the iconic Penang ferry service, but instead facilitate the immediate continuation of services as normal on 1 January 2021. Ever since Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz acceded to my request in Parliament on 17 December 2020 to continue the 126 year old ferry service, there is an unholy silence from Wee, PPC, and PPSB as to whether the service will continue as instructed.
Wee has chosen to spread lies that I had made the decision to terminate and replace the ferry service with catamarans. This is patently false when Wee cannot show proof. Tengku Zafrul had also confirmed that I had placed a condition in writing when I was Finance Minister, for the Penang ferry services to be continued in exchange for a RM30 million cash incentive payment to PPSB.
In contrast, Wee and PPC Chairman Tan Teck Cheng decided to terminate the ferry service outright on 31 December 2020, without any sentiment for its unique historic and heritage value. Tan even said that the decision to terminate the 126 year old ferry service was driven by statistics and economics, rather than emotions or politics.
Clearly Penangites were “betrayed” by the dirty politics of MCA leaders in the Transport Ministry and PPC – in unilaterally terminating the Penang ferry services without regard for the opinions of not only 1.7 million Penangites but also Malaysians who love heritage. Tan even told the Chinese press that he was shocked at the U-turn announced by Tengku Zafrul in continuing the Penang ferries and even questioned whether Tengku Zafrul had made the correct decision.
If Wee and Tan choose to defy the instruction of the Finance Minister by pretending there has been no change in the decision to terminate the ferry services or no U-turn to use Tan’s own words, then this will spark a legal wrangle. Can the Transport Ministry legally ignore a condition to continue ferry services imposed by the Finance Ministry on the RM30 million funding to PPSB to facilitate the takeover of the Penang ferry services?
Lim Guan Eng
MP for Bagan