Battle for fate of Penang

Kumaresan (left) chatting with Sungai Acheh assemblyman Zulkifli Ibrahim during a tea break.

PENANG MCA has urged the Penang government to set aside political differences and work together with all factions to reject the Kulim International Airport (KXP) proposal.

In a statement, Penang MCA chairman Datuk Tan Teik Cheng (above) said the Federal Govern-ment’s approval for the KXP would greatly affect the interests of Penang.

“Penang MCA is fully committed in objecting to this plan.

“Hence, we urge the state government and residents of Penang to stand together as one to fight for the fate of Penang.

“Together, we will show the Federal Government the valour of Penangites!” he said.

Earlier at the state assembly, Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said that the planned KXP was marked as a competitor that would, in the long term, cause Penang to lose foreign direct investments.

“KXP will not complement Penang International Airport (PIA) but will instead compete with us to get companies in the northern corridor to use its cargo services,” he said.

He added that existing cargo facilities in PIA would become underused and investors would move to Kulim and likely to other countries too, leading to a drop in foreign direct investments for Penang.

These eventualities, Chow said, were based on reports by two consultants KPMG Corporate Advisory for the state Economic Planning Unit and KLIA Consultancy for the Kedah government on the feasibility of KXP.

(From left) Gooi Hsiao Leung (Bukit Tengah), Lee Khai Loon (Machang Bubuk) and Dr Norela Ariffin (Penanti) having a discussion during a state assembly tea break.
(From left) Gooi Hsiao Leung (Bukit Tengah), Lee Khai Loon (Machang Bubuk) and Dr Norela Ariffin (Penanti) having a discussion during a state assembly tea break.  

Chow warned that the closure of PIA was one bleak possibility with the existence of KXP.

“You tell me whether or not I should be worried,” he said in reply to a question by A. Kumaresan (PH-Batu Uban).

To a supplementary question from Kumaresan, Chow stressed that PIA and the transport network in Penang were the main criteria to see Penang reach a developed status and “without these, our future will be affected.”

Nor Hafizah Othman (BN-Permatang Berangan) asked a supplementary question, wanting to know how the state planned to counter the expected relocation of factories from Penang to Kulim should KXP’s cargo services come into play.

Instead of answering, Chow highlighted the bigger issue of KXP offering both cargo and passenger services.

“We will wait for the feedback and study from the Federal Government on KXP but even without a study, it is obvious that it doesn’t make sense at all for a brand new airport to offer only cargo service.

“We wait for Kedah and the Federal Government to convince us that KXP will not affect Penang,”

This prompted Dr Norlela Ariffin (PH-Penanti) to also want to ask a supplementary question.

However, the time for questions was up and Speaker Datuk Law Choo Kiang gave her a tongue-in-cheek reply: “Sorry, you missed the flight.”

Concerns over the impact of KXP have been on the minds of Penang assemblymen at the current meeting, with several submitting oral questions to the state executive council on the matter.

KXP first became public knowledge in 2014 when the Penang government called for the then Barisan Nasional government to make public the National Airport Master Plan and reveal if an airport in Kulim was being planned.

In 2015, Kedah said KXP would kick off as a cargo airport but in April 2016, Kedah said the proposal had been redesigned for a passenger and air cargo shipment hub.

In March, Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali visited Kedah and announced that KXP had been approved by the Federal Government as a private financing initiative.

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