Penang government rejects FOI request for access to SRS’ RM50bn transport proposal

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Whither transparency? There was much talk in Penang about freedom of information last week especially around Right to Information Day (28 September).

But sadly, when it came to the crunch, a freedom of information request to the Penang state government to disclose the 20-volume transport proposal by SRS Consortium was rejected.

The SRS transport proposal is expected to cost the state a staggering RM50bn, and the state government is expected to raise this anount by auctioning off 4,500 acres of reclaimed land.

In view of the high stakes, Michael Leow of Sinar Project, which spearheads freedom of information initiatives, submitted a request for the proposal to be made public in line with the Freedom of Information Enactment 2010 in Penang. The 20 volumes are presently locked up in a small room in Komtar, accessible only to Penang Transport Council members, minus their phones and cameras.

Michael had wanted a soft copy of the 20 volumes but was told this was not possible. The most he could hope for was a visit to that locked room in Komtar.

Unfortunately, his request to gain access to the 20 thick volumes was rejected by the deputy state secretary (development). The reason for the rejection? The agreement between the relevant parties has not yet been finalised. Presumably, this refers to the project delivery partner agreement that will be signed between the Penang state government and SRS Consortium. The deadline for signing had been extended to February 2017.

“For a clear CAT process, the public should have been involved transparently, right from the beginning. There is no excuse in this day and age, as the documents could easily have been put online,” said a disappointed Michael, when contacted.

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Meanwhile, after the SRS proposal had been submitted to the state government, more controversial components were added such as a monorail line on the mainland. A north-south highway proposed for the island was also expanded. No wonder the cost of the proposal is now almost touching RM50bn.

But the public are largely in the dark about the details. For instance, they have no clue how many buildings would be affected – “encumbrances”, as they are called – by the north-south highway and elevated LRT on the island.

The problem is that if we wait for the agreement to be finalised, it would be too close to the signing deadline. By then it would probably be too late: any changes after the agreement has been signed might result in the familiar refrain that compensation would have to be paid.

At a recent Penang Transport Council meeting, when council members asked when the SRS proposal would be made public, they were told that maybe after a two-day workshop was held to brief council members about the SRS proposal. Well, that two-day workshop on 24-25 September 2016 has come and gone, and still the proposal has not yet been made public.

This delay leaves little time for the SRS proposal to receive proper public scrutiny, feedback and criticism. Perhaps that is the idea.

For now, what is clear is that the FOI Enactment has failed its biggest test.

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glissantia
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glissantia

BRT is unchallenged for convenience, reliability, flexibility, low impact and low cost:
http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2016/09/24/transport-expert-bus-lanes-better-than-lrts-for-penang/

Its Animal Farm all over again. If you think the multi-billion RM water supply scandal in Sabah which just surfaced is unusual, you must have been born yesterday.

wang lei
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wang lei

Sabah Watergate scandal is the failure of AG in auditing. But it is likely just a wayang from SPRM.

Mannan Thalapathi
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Mannan Thalapathi

Karaoke sessions for readers of Anilnetto.com who cherish cleaniness :

Gempak
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Gempak

Penang has its own Official Secrecy Act?
Must respect that like all those hidden issues surrounding 1MDB?

Saljeet
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Saljeet

I prefer Najib declare his assets instead.

Bigjoe
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Bigjoe

No country have FOI ON DEMAND. Its just not practical. Even in the US, selected information is disclosed in due time. Asking for FOI on Demand is no different that saying states have rights into all people’s private information on demand. You want that?

tunglang
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tunglang

Are you also implying the Penang Local Plan (of 9 yrs MIA) is beyond FOI demand?
Could it be that the CAT is still seeking continuous ‘advice & feedback’ of more profiteering swap deal development planning forever in the changing room of 28th For Komtar?
There are limits to some things hidden from public scrutiny unless one readily subscribes to an autocratic gomen which crawls for innocent votes comes GE!

zoro
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zoro

it is like asking the state to reveal the details of winning tenderer’s prices on all his items.

zoroo
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zoroo

What about penang forum’s letter to unesco? No FOI on UNESCO’s reply?

zoro
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zoro

why not complain Unesco does not practise FOI? Unesco throw the complainer’s letter into the bin? what human rights and transparency UN is talking about?

zoro
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zoro

anil try asking warisan negara to reveal the contents to see if there is FOI? or to shy and no interested now as it could be bad news and better hush hush?

LGE tak boleh
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LGE tak boleh

I think it is not an unfair statement that the state government could not release the proposal as a definite agreement has not been signed. I hope the agreement would be disclosed once it has been signed. Let’s give the state government the benefit of the doubt.

zoro
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zoro

do you know there are clauses which states works as directed by the arch or engr and carry out without objection? please read drawing and condition of contract.

gk ong
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gk ong

Can Anil explain ‘belum memuktamadkan perjanjian’, the reason given for non-disclosure for now?

james k
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james k

I think it simply means “the deal/agreement is still not yet finalised/signed” between stata gov & PDP

zoroo
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zoroo

Any news on pg forum’s letter to UNESCO on sia boey? Did UNESCO asked for more information?

tunglang
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tunglang

WHERE IS THE PENANG LOCAL PLAN, NIAO KONG!!!

Kabali Tanjung Bagan
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Kabali Tanjung Bagan

If Huan of PCM not bringing up the local plan matter on its political platform, what are we the ordinary folks can ask for? Dream on?

tunglang
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tunglang

Keeping quiet is not a good option.
Unless one is weepy!
Btw, how would you know this contention may not be a ‘bullet’ in the coming GE???
CAT MY Foot!

zoro
Guest
zoro

why dont you ask your gilakan, pcm, ah soon to raise the subject…
what happen to ah soon teh tarik session on lge cost for tunnel and highways?

tunglang
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tunglang

WHERE IS THE PENANG LOCAL PLAN, NIAO KONG!!!

james k
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james k

What was the purpose of the workshop?Were there any more info revealed?

What about BCF’s proposal? Was it put forward in the council?
And also other issues like status of Sia Boey.

Thanks for the constant updates of the PTMP progress