Some 200 of those present at Penang Forum 5 signed a petition opposing the privatisation of Penang port.
See the Aliran statement on this.
Meanwhile, the Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce has confirmed its interest in the port. It proposes to form a consortium comprising members of the various chambers of commerce in Penang to take over the port (Business Times).
But the petition signed by the those attending the Penang Forum 5 prefers that the Penang state government should be the one taking over the port. That is something I would agree to.
After all, the Penang port is a public asset and as such, it should be owned by a party acting on behalf of and accountable to the people – and not by any private interests whether a tycoon or a chamber of commerce, neither of whom are accountable to the public.
Some have suggested that the real reason certain quarters are eyeing the port is due to the land banks that come under the port, apart from the strategic value of the port itself. Certainly, the port is an important gateway into the George Town world heritage site. The proposed development would also involve the privatisation of federal government-owned land in the port area (Business Times). Now this land could be worth a lot of money. Is that why everyone is so interested in the port?
Syed Mokhtar’s Seaport Terminal reportedly also wants to demolish the cruise terminal and build a new one.
According to the report, however, the privatisation agreement with the concessionaire has not yet been signed. So it is by no means a done deal.
Save Penang port before it is too late!