: Two leaders of Penang Barisan Nasional (BN) component parties – namely UMNO and Gerakan – have continued to hold conflicting views on the building of a new international airport in Kulim, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said.
Urging for BN to make a consistent position, Lim noted that Penang BN Chair Teng Chang Yeow had opposed the proposed airport in Kedah, but the same project was being supported by Penang UMNO.
“This conflicting position between Teng and Penang UMNO is confusing. Can Teng and UMNO get their act together, meet and decide what is the actual and consistent position of Penang BN?
“Does the position of Penang UMNO or Teng represents Penang BN's?" Lim asked in a statement today.
He was referring to Teng's statement, as reported in The Star
on Tuesday, that it was better to upgrade the Penang International Airport (PIA).
“The proposal by the Kedah government lacks facts and figures to justify a new international airport,” Teng had reportedly said.
As for Penang UMNO chief Datuk Zainal Abidin Osman, Bernama
had reported him as saying that Penang should not feel threatened by a new international airport in Kulim, as the project would not only benefit Kedah but also positively impact three districts in Penang and northern Perak.
Lim claimed that the reason Gerakan's Teng was opposing the airport in Kedah was because the latter was afraid of losing his old supporters while Zainal felt they needed to support any proposal made by an UMNO leader.
"They are not interested in the interests of Penangites. Each are being selfish in their own point of view," Lim told Astro AWANI
when contacted. Lim's argument for upgrade
Lim expressed regret that Penang Pakatan Rakyat has been continually blamed by BN for asking Putrajaya to allocate RM600,000 to upgrade the PIA before it considers building a new RM2 billion airport in Kedah, pointing out that the PIA is owned, operated and regulated by the Federal Government.
"During the last RM250 million PIA expansion project, contractors were appointed by the Transport Ministry. The state government had no say and was never consulted.
"Yet, BN continue to blame the Penang government for the shameful flooding at the PIA. Is BN also going to blame the Penang government for the airport roof leaking every time it rains or for the dirty toilets?"
Lim argued that priority should be given to expanding the PIA as compared to building a new airport in Kulim.
"This is not only cheaper at RM600 million compared to building a new international airport which can cost at least RM2 billion. It is also more productive and economically feasible to leverage on Penang’s position as a world-class electrical and electronic cluster, manufacturing hub, tourism destination and services sector.”
Lim said PIA has shown to be the second or third busiest passenger airport in Malaysia for the last six years due to Penang’s strong tourist arrivals and health tourism, and the state's air cargo facility is also the top two most profitable in the country.
“Penang is also No.1 in terms of foreign direct investment (FDI) from 2010 to August 2013 with RM19.7 billion or nearly 20 percent of Malaysia’s total FDI. As FDIs focus on exports, there is a huge potential for future increasing volumes in air cargo,” he said.
He argued that Penang’s strong growth in the three sectors of manufacturing FDI, services and tourism justifies the need for an expansion airport upgrade.
Stressing that an expansion is “urgently needed”, Lim said last year there were 5.5 million passengers and is expected to reach the enforced maximum capacity of 6.5 million passengers by 2015.
On Wednesday, Lim had sought for Putrajaya to fund an expansion of PIA that includes two runways, an air cargo facility and a maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility after Kedah Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir proposed that an international airport be built in Kulim as the gateway to the northern states and southern Thailand, claiming Penang would not have enough space to expand its airport.