GEORGE TOWN: Aliran has questioned the Penang government over whether the public would be charged a fee to visit the Penang Botanical Gardens, and also whether land would be sold off following the corporatisation of the gardens.
This follows the passing of the Penang State Park (Botanic) Corporation Enactment 2017 in the recent state assembly sitting.
The non-governmental organisation has urged the state government to ensure that the transformation of the botanical gardens into a state park would not result in profits being put before people and the over-commercialisation of a cherished public facility.
“We are concerned the corporatisation could be a first step towards the eventual privatisation and further commercialisation of the botanical gardens.
“This is not far-fetched because some statutory bodies have taken that route.
“For example, Penang Port Sdn Bhd was set up in 1993 to undertake the corporatisation of the port, and the corporation was then privatised in 2015. The former Jabatan Bekalan Air Selangor followed the same corporatisation-to-privatisation route,” it said in a statement.
Aliran said it was also disturbed that in the passing of this enactment, there was no mention of the Penang Botanical Gardens Special Area Plan.
“There has been no public announcement and sharing of the plan that was approved by the Penang state government. Among others, does the approved version contain provisions for a cable car project that lands in the vicinity of the gardens?” it asked.
In the interest of transparency and accountability, Aliran called on the Penang state government to make public the Special Area Plan to assure Penangites that the enactment would not pave the way towards the building of a cable car from the Penang Botanical Gardens to Penang Hill.