Penang-based NGOs and concerned individuals are rallying behind the Municipal Council president for her stand in opposing the use of Council funds to finance the controversial Penang International Convention Centre.
The Penang Forum, a coalition of Penang public interest groups and individuals (www.penangforum.net), strongly supports Penang Municipal Council (MPPP) president Patahiyah Ismail for voicing the concern of many rate payers: why should the MPPP, which is running on a deficit, have its coffers raided for RM50 million to pay for the proposed Penang International Convention Centre (PICC), which, at best, has no certain benefit to them or, at worst, could end up a white elephant?
The ratepayers of a city that is suffering from a high crime rate, traffic congestion, flooding, poor cleanliness and inadequate urban services (such as parks, playgrounds, and pedestrian accessibility) find it difficult to see the relevance or the rationale of the PICC being built using MPPP resources. They can see, though, that the huge expenditure has the potential of placing the MPPP in serious financial straits, just as a similar grandiose project on the mainland nearly bankrupted the MPSP two years ago so that the council there now requires the state government’s financial assistance even to buy vehicles.
The lack of transparency that has shrouded the conception, planning and award of the project to the consultant by an otherwise open and transparent government further adds to the sense of unease and disquiet.
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Many groups and individuals have given their objections and the Penang Forum agrees with all of them. Questions of economic and technical viability, suitability of the design, location, accessibility, adequacy of parking spaces, post-completion operation and maintenance and possible obsolescence were raised.
We would like to commend our new YDP for her honesty and principles and hope that she will be given support on how she is steering the MPPP.
Penang Forum Working Group
31 March 2010