Strive to save the iconic Penang ferries

THE recent news about the scrapping of the Penang ferries and replacing them with “modern catamarans” to carry passengers is very depressing for most Penangites, and indeed anyone who has experienced riding on these iconic boats.

The ferries have such a unique look and also represent an important part of Penang. They are much more than just a means of crossing between the island and mainland.

When I go back to Penang, I look forward to a ferry ride despite the usually long wait to get on. It is such a beautiful experience to stand on the deck with the sea breeze blowing, watching the ships in the harbour and other ferries passing by as the ferry chugs towards the island or mainland.

The ferries are also an important tourist attraction, as there are tourism promotional materials highlighting them. It would be a heavy loss if they are scrapped. The ferries have historic and heritage value and should not be scrapped based on bottom line justification alone. This is a short-sighted bureaucratic decision being made to destroy this beautiful part of Penang.

I hope someone in the government, both state and federal, will wake up and reverse this decision. I am sure there are ways to keep the ferries running. Look at Hong Kong, for example, to see how the thriving ferry service there is managed.

Failing this, I am hoping some entrepreneur will step forward to take over at least some of the ferries, refurbish and then use them as cruise boats to take tourists around Penang island. There are examples from all over the world to look at, including the Bosporus cruise boats in Istanbul. I am sure there are many possibilities in this aspect.

Penangites and indeed anyone who has experienced the Penang ferry rides would certainly welcome such initiatives.


Kuala Lumpur

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