Thrilling ride on the cards

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  • Friday, 18 Oct 2019

Budget 2020 has allocated RM100mil for a cable car to Penang Hill. — Filepic

TOWN planners might be funnier than we think.

In England, they created an acronym for people who oppose development projects.

The label is “Banana” and it stands for “Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything.” Sunderland City Council went as far as to list this term in its online dictionary of jargon.

In America, town planners have their own acronym for naysayers: CAVE. Citizens Against Virtually Everything.

When you spend so much effort planning something that in your expert opinion is good for the people, and then see some of those people crying foul and tearing up your plans, you might get epiphanies for such acronyms too.

I grinned upon remembering those acronyms when Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said, “The government will contribute RM100mil towards the construction of a new cable car system to Penang Hill, with any additional costs to be financed by the state government.”

I can’t wait to see what campaigns non-governmental organisations (NGO) will have to scrap the cable car plan, as they did in the 1990s.At the risk of angering NGOs though, I have to admit I was happy to hear Lim’s words.

It might, perhaps, possibly be good — maybe — if the cable car joins Teluk Bahang to the hilltop, which is what many tourism players anticipate.

Penang needs new tourism products. We cannot keep banking on our hawker food.

Some cable cars have cute little gondolas that sit four people. Some have cabins that hold 150 people, and these public transport systems are called aerial tramways.

I don’t think the state will go for broke and build an aerial tramway.

We don’t have to be town planners to know that you cannot send as many people who want to go as possible to that rather small hilltop.

I would wait and see what consultants calculate before giving the plan a vehement “no”.

To me, Budget 2020 is a step better for Penang than Budget 2019.A part of the voluminous budget is an appendix listing actual disbursements that the Federal Government gave to all states in 2018. Get it at

Penang got only RM239mil that year, the second lowest after Melaka.

The other powerhouse states like Johor and Selangor, got RM871mil and RM844mil respectively.

More important than special project funding, these payments from the Federal Government are vital because they come as grants to our local councils, road maintenance cost, electricity for street lamps, and many more.

I am sure Penangites will be pleased if more of the taxes we paid can come back for these necessities. Just to be able to have better quality roads is good already.The government is trying to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor, and since Penang is better off than most states, we need to temper our desire for a larger piece of the pie. But our local councils received RM10mil in 2018, while local councils in Kedah got RM30mil. That is a huge difference.

Now that Seberang Prai City Council has become the council with the largest geographical jurisdiction in Malaysia, it will be interesting to see how much local authority grants we are getting next year.

Tourism, Culture and Arts Ministry (Motac) asked for RM330mil for marketing and promotions. It got RM87.5mil instead. Better than nothing, perhaps.

Now when it comes to marketing and promotion, it might be better to promote winners and win more.

In the Going Places Readers’ Choice Awards 2018 by Malaysia Airlines, Penang was voted the “most loved state for tourism”. Better to play with the winners and score high. So we hope Motac will smile on our state in 2020.

In the development budget for the Economic Affairs Ministry, a handsome RM30mil is to be given to Kedah State Economic Development Corporation (SEDC).

This SEDC got the largest amount. The next largest went to Melaka SEDC, RM10.8mil. Penang Development Corporation did not get a sen, though PDC surely made due requests in the budget consultation sessions.

We wait now for subsequent announcements from Cabinet ministers on what projects their ministries are going to launch in Penang.I am keeping the faith that next year, Penangites will receive more from the Federal Government than in the past.

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