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Friday April 3, 2009

Abdullah’s boon to Kepala Batas folk

KEPALA BATAS: Residents from the birthplace of outgoing Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi are grateful to him for transforming the former oil palm and rubber estate into a modern township.

Zakaria Salleh, 72, said Abdullah, fondly known as Pak Lah, had the people’s interest at heart, adding that he had not forgotten his roots.

“Even when he first became Kepala Batas MP, Pak Lah had always cared for the people here. The development he has brought is beyond what kampung folk here have asked for,” said the cendol seller.

Lai Kim Foo, 70, who lives near Abdullah’s house in Jalan Perak here, said Abdullah’s generosity was exemplary, noting that he often treated his friends to sumptuous meals whenever he returned to his hometown.

“My family knew his parents and grandfather quite well. Pak Lah is not only pious, but humble and able to mix well with people from all races,” the former lorry driver said.

Seamstress S. Sumathi, 38, was sad that Pak Lah was stepping down as Prime Minister and hoped he would continue to bring development to Kepala Batas.

“The development he brought has helped increase the population as well as create job opportunities for many here,” she said.

Businesswoman Norma Kasim, 49, said she respected Abdullah’s decision to hand over the reins to Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

She hoped Abdullah would now have more time to visit his constituents.

Medicine shop owner Hee Phow Boon, 46, said he hoped Abdullah would continue to help Kepala Batas grow with the opening of new factories, hypermarkets and housing schemes.

“He has done a lot for us but we hope there won’t be an abrupt halt in development once he is no longer the Prime Minister,” he said.

Former North Seberang Prai district officer Datuk Abdul Ghani Ariffin said Kepala Batas underwent rapid development and transformed into a self-contained township after Abdullah became the premier in 2003.

He said the area was developed under a rural modernisation approach to allow the local residents to be part of the development.

The township is now home to Uni-versiti Sains Malaysia’s Advanced Medical Research and Dentistry Insti-tute, a Mara Junior Science College, Kepala Batas Community College, Kepala Batas Industrial Training Insti-tute, Penang Matriculation College, Malaysian Productivity Corporation, Perda Agro-based and Industrial Com-plex and Mardi Research Insti-tute.

Several development projects have also been carried out within the 1,600ha Bertam Valley here.

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