GEORGE TOWN: The upgrade of the Penang Ferry services is to ensure the safety and well-being of all its passengers, says MCA vice-president Datuk Tan Teik Cheng (pic).
Tan, who is also Penang Port Commission chairman, urged former chief minister Lim Guan Eng to stop his "fairy tales" and "lies" on the Penang ferry issue.
Tan also urged the DAP secretary-general to stop "fighting with his own shadow" and playing on the sentiments of the people without caring about their safety.
Lim has been accused by MCA of playing politics over public safety following his recent remarks on the upgrade of the Penang Ferry services.
"In the issue of ferry services upgrading project so far, it was Lim who was the only one who talked a lot, who did not care about the safety of ferry users and pretended not to understand the explanation of Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong.
"It is clear that Lim's real purpose is to show that he is still active and still concerned about Penang.
"To hide his narrow political agenda, Lim tried to use various so-called tactics to defend Penang's cultural heritage as well as exploit the nostalgia of the locals for the history of ferry services and incite as if the Perikatan Nasional government was oppressing Penangites," he said in a statement on Tuesday (Dec 29).
Tan added that Penangites fully understand what the ferries mean to the people of this state.
"Apart from being a witness to development, it also makes a significant contribution to the Penang tourism industry.
"However, with the passage of time, this old ferry began to break down regularly, its maintenance costs also increased, and spare parts were difficult to obtain.
"The most important thing in the consideration of the Transport Ministry and the Penang Port Authority is consumer safety.
"When deciding that the Penang ferry service would use catamaran speed boats from Jan 1,2021, the Transport Ministry explained that the old ferries would be considered to be maintained and renovated as floating museums and restaurants, as a more practical and effective measure to preserve Penang's cultural heritage, as well as continuing public nostalgia for the ferry.
"The new boats will only carry foot passengers, bicycles and motorcycles, while cars can use the two existing bridges," he said, adding that the project was proposed by the Transport Ministry under the previous Pakatan Harapan government and was merely continued by the current Transport Ministry.
Tan called upon Lim to immediately stop harping on the Penang ferry issue.
"Consider the safety of ferry users, and not use the preservation of cultural heritage as an outdated excuse to ignite the feelings of Penangites.
"On the other hand, Lim needs to answer, when he held the post of Penang chief minister, how many valuable heritage assets were sold to foreigners, how many beautiful natural areas that Penang is proud of were razed and levelled, and how many beautiful coastal areas were given way to seawall projects," he asked.
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