Penang CM concerned over proposed Kulim airport

Chow Kon Yeow

GEORGE TOWN: Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow (pic) has raised several questions about the proposed Kulim International Airport, following reports that the Kedah state government had obtained approval from the Federal Gover­nment to develop the new RM1.6bil airport in the Kuala Muda district.

Chow said there were a lot of concerns on the proposed airport in terms of its impact on Penang, adding that while the proposal to have a second international airport, whether in or out of Penang was “not something new”, it looked “quite serious” this time.

“It had been mooted a decade or two ago, but this time it looks quite serious in that the feasibility study was done and a special purpose company has been set up.

“And (Kedah) Mentri Besar (Datuk Seri Muhkriz Mahathir) had paid Penang a visit to convey Kedah’s position on two matters, one on the Ulu Muda catchment issue, while the other on seeking our support for the Kulim Interna­tional Airport. At the meeting, we did not say if we supported or rejected the proposal.

“At that time, Datuk Seri Muhkriz said it will be only a cargo airport and not a passenger airport. Then we responded by asking Kedah to send us a copy of the feasibility study because he said the study had been done.

“We received the report and it seemed clear that the study is on an airport, not just for cargo but passengers as well,” he said, adding that the study was sent to him late last year.

Chow was speaking to reporters at the Penang Development Corporation (PDC) Chinese New Year celebration at the PDC building in Bayan Lepas yesterday.

He, however, said Transport Minister Anthony Loke had told him that the ministry had not approved any new airport project for the northern region yet.

“I believe Kedah did the study without also referring to us in those days. I don’t know which era the study was done.

“Anyway, it was after the study and after the change of (Kedah) government that the Mentri Besar saw fit to engage with us to seek our understanding,” he said.

Chow said there would definitely be some impact when asked about the economic impact on Penang if the Kulim airport was built,

“The fact that whether a second international airport is feasible or not is a question we would like to ask.

“If it is a cargo airport, what type of cargo are you talking about? If it is for primary products, then perhaps a seaport will be more appropriate than an airport.

“If it is for electronics products, I believe the Penang International Airport in Bayan Lepas is already serving the industry very well.”

Bernama reported on Thursday that a special entity known as KXP AirportCity Holdings Sdn Bhd had been set up to plan, coordinate and manage the development of the Kulim International Airport.

According to Kedah Mentri Besar Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir, the Kedah state government had obtained approval from the Federal Government to develop the new RM1.6bil airport in the Kuala Muda district.

Chow said the state government would commission a study for the possibility of a new international airport on reclaimed land by the side of Batu Maung.

“Even before receiving this report (on the Kulim airport proposal), I had spoken about our plans for a second airport in Penang.”

“We have raised this with the Northern Corridor Implementation Authority (NCIA) and have received a response from NCIA that they are willing to do the study for us but they need to get the budget from the Transport Ministry.

“We decided that if they are unable to come up with the budget, the state will finance the study ourselves.

“Of course the study will also have to look at Kulim. If there is a proposal, our study will also be required to look at other proposals in the northern region of a possible second airport,” he added.

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