Press statement by DAP Secretary-General and MP for Bagan, Lim Guan Eng in Penang on 16 December 2020:
Penang “Betrayed” Again By Both Perikatan Nasional (PN) And MCA With The Termination Of The Iconic 126 Year Old Penang Ferry Service Following The Government’s Refusal To Honour Previous PH Commitments
Penang is “betrayed” again by both PN and MCA with the termination of the iconic Penang ferry service, which had been operating for 126 years, following the government’s refusal to honour previous PH’s commitments.
According to the Penang Port Commission (PPC), the Penang ferry service that had been ferrying both passengers and vehicles between the island and the mainland will cease operation from January 1 next year, and will be replaced by speedboats carrying only pedestrians, bicycles and motorcycles.
The previous PH Federal government had transferred the Penang ferry service back to Penang Port Sdn Bhd (PPSB) from Prasarana Bhd, with the understanding that the iconic Penang ferry must be retained together with cash payments as an incentive. Not just Penangites but many Malaysians who loved using the Penang ferry service to commute to Penang island are sad at the PN government’s justification for terminating the ferry service as being driven by statistics and economics, rather than emotions or politics.
This cold and callous approach totally ignores both Penang’s unique heritage and history, an important role as an economic generator of tourism. Ending the ferry service will take the romance out of going to Penang in the traditional manner, bearing in mind that George Town is a UNESCO World Heritage city. Heritage and history are something that money cannot buy and should be treasured for future generations.
To save the ferry service, the Penang government had offered to take over the entire Penang water transport services and ferry service in 2015 by bearing its costs. Unfortunately, the Transport Ministry in 2016 refused to grant full authority to the Penang state government and insisted on exercising regulatory control over water transport and ferry services in Penang, even though the Transport Ministry was not footing the bill.
This is not the first time that Penangites have been “betrayed” by the PN government. The RM100 million allocated in the 2020 Budget to build the cable car on Penang Hill (Bukit Bendera) was also terminated. Similarly, the promised bank loan guarantees by the previous PH government to build the LRT to overcome the chronic traffic congestion in Penang and Seberang Perai was also cancelled.
DAP urges the Transport Ministry to have a heart, not to abandon Penang and its iconic ferry service. Many foreign countries still retain its original ferry services even though it may not be economical due to its intrinsic worth and intangible value to heritage and history.
Lim Guan Eng,
MP for Bagan.