Tunnel-highways project: Guan Eng responds


Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng has responded to the concerns aired earlier on this blog.

Dear Anil,

I felt you did not give a complete picture of the constraints faced by the state govt during these last 5 years in trying to get public transport going with the obstructionist attitude of the Transport Ministry and the Federal govt. Nothing exemplifies more such difficulty faced by the state govt then the Fed govt’s stubborn refusal to accept a RM10 million yearly payment to offer free bus rides during peak hours. This is on top of the 2 earlier successful initiatives of offering free CAT bus rides in the heritage city enclave and free Park & Ride across the 1st Bridge from the mainland to Bayan Lepas FIZ.

You should have pointed out in fairness that the state govt can do nothing to improve public transport without federal government approval even if we pay for it as the RM10 million failed cash offer showed – no say in ferries, taxis, buses and even water transport. As such we feel that it is our responsibility to offer a clear choice – a worst case scenario if we do not win Putrajaya, that at least there are alternatives that we have planned to mitigate traffic congestion. It is worth pointing out that the number of cars coming in across the 1st Bridge had hit record levels of more than 80,000 car per day.

The award tender exercise was done in an open competitive manner and evaluation and recommendation done not by me or other EXCO members but by the State Financial Officer Dato Mokhtar Jait.

I beg to differ that building more roads will finally cause more cars to come in. The advantage of more alternative roads would provide us options of closing down inner city roads for pedestrian walkways, tram lines and dedicated bus lanes.

I respect your strong views on this matter and assure you that such acerbic remarks will not deter me from continuing to engage with dissenting detractors. We all want what is best for Penang but let us continue to engage to see how we can refine our respective positions on the premise that there is no monopoly for being absolutely right.

Attached is my press statement issued today which will allow me to give my side of the story. Thank you.

Guan Eng

Dear Guan Eng

I appreciate your response and willingness to engage openly for two hours during the meeting yesterday in the full glare of the media – something which surprised us.

I know your hands are largely tied re public transport, no thanks to the BN federal government’s centralisation of powers over public transport. In previous posts, I have criticised the federal government for not allowing your state government to subsidise RapidPenang bus services during peak hours while I have applauded your express bus service initiative across the Penang Bridge.

I am sorry if I sounded ascerbic. It is just that the main thrust of the disappointment stems from our thinking that the Penang state government should wait for the outcome of the general election before saying it really is unable to do anything more about public transport because of BN federal control. In the election campaign, you and your colleagues can present a clear pledge to the voters of what you will do with public transport if Pakatan captures Putrajaya – rather than taking a big first step to committing to the highways and road-based tunnel (a cross-channel rail link would be a different matter) before the campaign. If Pakatan is still defeated at the federal level, then I am sure voters will understand your hands are really tied at the state level.

It is still not too late to make sustainable/public transport (instead of highway-based options) a major plank of your election campaign. Voters across the country will surely give your coalition a big mandate if you tell them that a Pakatan federal government would do all it can to promote sustainable transport alternatives (instead of highway-based options and cheaper cars to flood those highways) – which will reduce their heavy financial burden of relying on private motor vehicles e.g. car loans, petrol bills, car maintenance, road tax, toll payments, parking fees/tickets and speeding tickets, not to mention improving the overall quality of life through reduced congestion, pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, and stress. It will also save lives lost on the road. I appeal to you to consider this option in the long-term interest of Penang and the rest of the country.

I reproduce your statement in full below, as I did in the original post before receiving your response.


Press Statement by Chief Minister of Penang Lim Guan Eng In Komtar, George Town, on 2nd March 2013.

1.6 Million Penangites Will Decide On Pakatan Rakyat’s 4 Highway Improvement Projects Of RM 6.3 Billion And A Proposed Tram System Throughout The State Linking Both The Island And The Mainland.

The PR Penang state government will submit to the will of 1.6 million Penangites, who will decide on the tender award of 4 highway improvement projects of RM 6.3 billion, including South East Asia first underwater sea tunnel from Gurney Drive to Bagan Ajam. The four major highways were recently awarded to a consortium comprising a local company and Beijing Urban Construction Group, a major Chinese construction company that built the Beijing Olympic Stadium Bird Nest.

Should PR win power in Putrajaya, PR is also proposing a tram system throughout the state linking both the island and the mainland. BN’s monorail is inappropriate for a world heritage city like Penang, as its elevated structure will destroy Penang’s charms. As a tram system on level ground would match Penang’s heritage, new alternative roads are required so that existing roads can make way for tram lines.

No To Monorail Yes To Tram

BN’s monorail project will not happen even if BN wins in Penang because of two reasons. One, the monorail would not be permitted by UNESCO and its construction would cause George Town to lose its UNESCO World Heritage city status. Two, BN has never fulfilled its promise when the monorail was first made by former Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in 2006. Neither was this promised delivered when Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak became the Prime Minister. Clearly we have to wait until Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim becomes the Prime Minister, then will there be a tram system.

Public transport is the sole jurisdiction of the Federal government. Even if the state government has the funds, the Federal government can refuse to give licensing and co-operate to allow a public transport system in Penang. This refusal to co-operate was clearly demonstrated when the Federal government refused to accept RM10 million yearly by the state government to provide free Rapid Penang bus rides during peak hours throughout Penang state. The Penang PR state government will not be a do-nothing government and will build new alternative roads to try to make up for the refusal of the BN Federal government to deliver on their promise of providing an effective public transport in Penang.

No To Entry Charges To George Town, Penang.

PR has firmly rejected extreme calls for entry charges for all vehicles entering George Town, Penang as PR is committed to free movement of people within Penang as well as those from outside Penang. To adopt this “Singapore model” to reduce traffic congestion is elitist at best in reserving George Town for existing residents and discriminatory at worse by only ensuring that the well-off can enter George Town, Penang.

Can Teng Chang Yeow Explain Why BN Sold The 940 Acres Of Reclaimed Land in Tanjung Pinang At Only RM1 Per Square Feet?

The Penang state government regrets the lies made by BN Penang Chair Teng Chang Yeow on the tender price, if the federal government has been informed or approved the tender to a joint local-international consortium and relating to the amazing speed in the tender award.

The Federal government was aware of this proposed project as far back as 2011 when both Prime Minister Dato Seri Najib Tun Razak and Chinese Premier Wen Jia Bao witnessed the exchange of Memorandum of Understanding by me for these 4 highway and tunnel projects in Kuala Lumpur. The open competitive tender was called in 14.11.2011 and public engagement with the public was carried out in 2011 briefing them of the project. The entire tender exercise was a transparent and accountable process.

How can these four projects be done with amazing speed when the first will be completed after 2017 and the underwater sea tunnel by 2023-25, even though the state government will try to finish it by 2020? The long construction time is due to the need to comply with Environmental Impact Assessment(EIA) requirements. Failure to comply with EIA would mean that the 4 projects would not go on.

The formal contract is still subject to discussion and is expected to be signed in a few months time and it will not proceed if rejected by the people. Further, the final tender price is not the estimated RM8 billion but RM 6.3 billion awarded to the lowest tenderer, Consortium Zenith BUCG Sdn Bhd. No cash will be paid but payment will be made in the form of 110 acres reclaimed land in Tanjung Pinang.

For Teng to claim that the reclaimed land is non-existent is a shameless lie as BN had approved the reclamation of 940 acres at a shocking price of RM1 per sq foot and 10% of the land to be given to the state government. Can Teng explain why BN had sold the land at such a low and illogical price of RM1 per sq ft? The PR Penang state government had managed to increase the amount of land to be given the state from 10% to more than 20%, which will be used to finance the construction of the 4 major highways.

The horrible traffic congestion a few days ago on the 1st Penang Brigde due to repairs on the bridge reminds us of the importance of having this 3rd link for the future. Whilst the 3 highways mitigating the traffic congestion to Batu Ferringhi, around George Town as well as Bandar Baru Air Itam and Farlim area is necessary, the 3rd underwater sea tunnel serves another function to spur economic development in Seberang Perai Utara(SPU).

The Penang state will not sit back and do-nothing on traffic congestion by taking the easy way out in blaming the Federal government for failing to provide public transport. Neither will we adopt an island-centric approach but instead develop a state-centric approach that encompasses the needs of the mainland. If there is a bridge linking the island in both Seberang Perai Tengah and Seberang Perai Selatan, there should be a link at SPU to advance economic growth.


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Ong Eu Soon

At Tanjung Pinang, we build the best; stairway to heaven. Only rm1mllion you will get the short cut to paradise. Your lifetime opportunity to have panoramic view of angles dancing on the clouds. Near amenities; the undersea tunnel , no congestion and paired roads to sandy beaches. Only bumi’s lot left, book now! 99.999999% financing available. No CRIS or CTOS checking! Just pray to Tokong and vote DAP!

Ong Eu Soon

Just wonder aloud whether Guan Eng still has the mood to give super high density and super high plot ratio for his developer friend to make rm10billion revenue to complete his mega project. I put my bet that this mega project like the tiger park will be forgotten by the developers when they learn to count and compute. You deserve the government you chose, vote for it no hesitation please! Rama, you win! I give up! Anil , congratulation for having such a great leader! YOU WIN TOO! pOOR ALIRAN you should ask for a yearly allocation for your tireless… Read more »

Ong Eu Soon

if you have 100 acres of land and given the rights to build 100 units of super condo per acre, you will end up having 10,000 units of super condo. If you sell each unit at the price of RM1million, your total revenue is RM10billion. Tell me with no certainty that you are capable of selling it at RM1million with this type of super high density. I will give you the top salesman award. Guan Eng seem to deserve to be given the top salesman award. What a performance! Make sure no abandon projects, we don’t like to rescue as… Read more »

Ong Eu Soon

The cyber troopers thinking that with their all out bodek comments , they will save the days. Wait till I tell you the story of the Emperor with his new clothes, I wonder whether you guys still thinking that you are smart. Lim Guan Eng can go ahead with his mega project provided that 1) the state government give no guarantee to banker over any financing r 2) No compensation for the developer in the event any thing happened 3) No monetary payment at all to be paid to the developer 4) No bailout in event anything happened. I have… Read more »


Whatever the outcome, we can all appreciate that the state government (even more impressively by the CM himself) can engage with the people to listen and discuss about decisions made. Obviously, it would be great to listen first before acting but that also mean having to choose a side as opinions divide. We entrusted PR in 2008 and if we think they are not our best option moving forward, then we will make it clear when we decide again (soon, very soon). From where I see it, the current state government is still far better than what the alternative had… Read more »

Simple penangites

As Penang Lang, I agree with more booster to state economy but smooth traffics. Well, very clear that we has been promised by BN so many years ago on this and that, and end up spend more money to constructing MPSP building, what that shame. Btw, past is past, we should look forward. May be some say LGE are too ambition on implementing or developing the state, but can we wait for the failure to the state? No is my answer. Penang must diversify it economy portfolio other then just focus on Manufacturing so that will bring more benefits to… Read more »

Gerakan K

Anil and LGE, please stop the drama. The projects will go ahead as mentioned by LGE. It is too late for any damage control exercise. MACC should check for any elements of corruption as LGE is so pushy, adamant and even tries to FAST TRACK it unnecessarily. Finally, let me remind all of us. We have alternative choice. Let’s vote BN at state and federal for a comprehensive revamp of transport system in Penang. p/s: Why delete my comment again ??? Your site kena HACK kah ??? Or my comment is not following the comment guideline ??? Tell me so… Read more »

kl chan

I have no idea why replying or giving a comment about a comment is deemed as a complain. Nevertheless – EIA consultants are supposed to be independent regardless of who the payer is. “The better plan would be for the state to appoint the consultant after discussion with stakeholder” – this I do not understand. What did you mean by stakeholders? Merriam Webster describes that as one who is involved in or affected by a course of action. If suggestions are to be agreed upon as to any appointments can be reasonably reached I am for it. However that alone… Read more »


Anil, Frankly, I was surprised by your views on the tunnel project simply because of your clear support to Pakatan Rakyat. I was just telling a friend the other day that most of us have lost the will to think and reason, having been blinded by hatred for the federal government. I do not support BN or Pakatan but only seek the truth. It’s reassuring to know that some of us can still rise above partisan politics. Please continue to speak out no matter how ascerbic the Chief Minister finds you. If the CM had his way, we would had… Read more »

SL Wong (@wong8898)

I TRUST Lim Guan Eng can do the best for all.

tan tanjong bungah

Hi everyone,

The proposal to reintroduce the tram as part of the greater traffic dispersion programme, with its accompanying opening up of North Seberang Perai for speeding economic activities there, especially so with the BN Federal Govt always sabotaging proposals by the State and its consultants, should be welcomed!

A more comprehensive plan on traffic dispersal cum social and economic upgrading in Pg can be worked on when PR captures Putrajaya in the 13GE as well!!


No trams please. Imagine the traffic jams! What we need is an MRT, underground in heritage or sensitive built-up areas, above ground elsewhere to save on costs. And a Master Plan to allow higher density commercial and residential development that will link to the MRT stations.


Anil I do not usually reply to any politics on another counrties . But First I must agree with you on this one, Read Chief Minister Press realise I am glad he supports NO MONO RAIL because of UNESCO Heritage of Georgetown, As one of the Guest Speakers on the Conferance on making Georgetown Heritage Listed I agree with Him Lets see common sence put LRT or Trams back.


Anil, Don’t be so naive. With development it enhance the properties around it and in the long run it bring in investment, jobs and businesses for the people. Just like 40 years in the early 70s there was objection developing Bayan Lepas which was padi field and NGO also protest against it due to the very same reason you and the NGO are now objecting. What happen 40 years later it bring in investment, housing, jobs and businesses and enhancing the property value and our image as an efficient manufacturing business concern in the eyes of the world. Its good… Read more »


Anil & company, With due respect, your group does not represent all Penangites, so does LGE and other special interest groups. The way to resolve this is to have a public referendum where we can vote to support or reject the project. I have no ties to DAP but I stronly support this project. Further, it is impossible to get 100% support for any project. A referendum will be fair & square where majority rules. Is not that what democracy is all about? What you practice is skew democracies for your own fame & interests. You do not represent all… Read more »


LGE is actually in a worst bind then he is telling. The truth is EVEN if PR takes over Putrajaya, they still may have to do this or part of the project. That is why its on the table. Take for example cross channel rail link – its the long term solution and should have been incorporated in the FIRST BRIDGE. It was not because they had to make a choice between skimming from the project and putting the contingency in when the then volume of the bridge did not even justify the bridge in the first place. The second… Read more »


Penang’s Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng is so “arrogant” that he actually sit down to read and make a reply. His explanations are point to point basis and in easy to understand simple English. Not just by points but added in some proper logic to it. Many of us didn’t realize that the public transport licensing part is under the federal control. To many of us , a bus is a bus and just give it a route to run. But the state govt cannot issue such license. The same problem with holding Local Election. Side track a bit –… Read more »

Smiley Sue

Fuly agreed with you. I think LGE only responded to responsible bloggers like anil. Anil writes with facts and considers points of views of rakyat, and knows Penang matters inside out to provide a fair refletion. However, there is a prominent Muar blogger who always criticised LGE in his blog because of personal vendetta. He also raised the same issue but clearly unconstructive e.g. asking Penangites to reject LGE. It is good that LGE ignored him. I think the tunnel project is good for the development of Butterworth, namely Bajan Ajam. Penangites can use this tunnel, (possibly cheaper the the… Read more »


Anil has provided a more balanced reporting on the project, its pros and cons. The reporting of this issue on The Star is totally one-sided to suit Gerakan/BN in order to put bad light on LGE especially in the eyes on people outside Penang. The Star is MCA-owned and is regularly used as a referene by MCA-friendly supporters like that prominent Muar blogger (he has openly asked Penangites to reject Pakatan Government in Penang!).

Boo Soon Yew

How many who criticize a Government Proposal or Project gets a reply from the Head of State himself ? Most, if not all are just plainly ignored !! The reply from our CM to Anil clearly reflects the openness that we enjoy under the present State Govt.. and trust me, it permeates to many levels in the agencies under the purview of the Penang State. As I’ve always mentioned in my “Letters to the Editor” to The Star (which fails to see the light of print many times !!).. “Together, we, the Rakyat can make Penang a better place for… Read more »


Well done LGE. I have been following on this issue and as a concerned Penangite these are my comments : Have u heard of the storey of the father, the son and the donkey, because they listen too much on people’s opinion they ended up carrying the donkey after the son then the father and then both of them rode the donkey after listening to people. Morale of the storey do what is best for penang, I think if u have 10Ringgit and u can get back RM100 then its just fantastic. E&O reclamation will go on irrespective of whther… Read more »


CM LGE has explained it loud and clear. From Selangor to Penang & Perak instead of concern for the rakyat, we have seen the true colour of Ah Cheap BN UMNO who are intend on sabotaging the PR state govt to stay in power. We have seen their stupidity and incompetency in the handling of Lahad Datu where 2 of our good men have died. Can we allowed such incompetent and stupid Cheap PM to continue running the country. Sahah is now a gone case for UMNO BN Ah Cheap. So is Johore and Negeri Sembilan. The people have awaken… Read more »


Kudos to the CM who has done pretty well even though for a short span of time in Penang without the support of Federal Govt. For 18 years, the previous administration did not do anything.

Gerakan K

It’s too late for LGE to do damage control exercise !!! Most Penangites know your true color !!!

Before, there was talk about voting BN in federal and keep Dap in state. Now people have realized that it’s not a bad idea to vote BN both state and federal.

Hmm, I think that is fair reactions from local voters.

Andrew I

No, nothing to say except fluff and blind hope.

Ong Eu Soon

The China firm is the favorite firm even before the tender is being called. Therefore it is essential for Guan Eng to come out clean that the tender process is not fixed to favor the China firm. In the name of Competency, Accountability, Transparency and open tender, Guan Eng should voluntary make public all information regarding the post tender negotiation to prove that there is no conflict of interest.

Andrew I

So, Gherkin, tell us when your bo hood ever bothered to be as engaging as this? No trolling and be specific like Deepak if you have something to say.

Ong Eu Soon

For a young nation Timor Leste has a better and well defined procurement guide. If Guan eng has not abused the so called open tender process, he should make everything public to prove that his state government has handled the open tender with due diligent and fulfilled at least majority of the principle as described at above-comments.
The tender guide can be found at http://www.mof.gov.tl/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/5-procurement-best-practice-guideline-tender-negotiation-en.pdf