The PKR and DAP candidates have assured residents at a condominium complex next to the Penang Turf Club that they would firmly oppose the Penang Global City Centre project if they are elected.
All the election candidates in the area – both BN and Opposition – were invited to meet the residents of the 72 Scotland Park condominium complex. But the BN candidates failed to show up as they preferred to be with Abdullah Badawi who was in town taking part in an event at nearby Rifle Range. When that event ended, they told the organisers at Scotland Park over the phone after 11.00pm that they would not be coming after they found out that the opposition candidates had been there for two hours along with the media.
The opposition candidates were PKR’s Jason Ong, a lawyer who is standing in the Kebun Bunga state seat, and the DAP’s Liew Chin Tong, a full-time party worker standing in the Bukit Bendera parliamentary seat. To their credit, they recognised the importance of preserving the environment in Penang and promised to articulate the concerns of residents in the Penang State Assembly and Parliament.
Both candidates came across as sincere, earnest and faily articulate if a little raw – and they were not given an easy ride by the politically aware residents and their friends from outside.
For one thing, the residents wanted them to publicly pledge that they would not defect to the BN if they were voted in under an opposition ticket – a pledge the candidates readily gave.
Secondly, they wanted to know what concrete steps the candidates would take to see to it that the PGCC project was buried for good. The candidates’ response sounded vague and some of the steps they suggested had already been carried out by the PGCC Campaign Group. They cited meagre resources and lack of access to the media, but the PGCC Campaign Group representatives pointed out that they too had lacked resources but still managed to stall the project.
Though the outcome of the session remained inconclusive, I detected a certain degree of receptiveness to the opposition candidates among the majority of the 30-40 people present. In particular, they seemed impressed that they had actually turned up to face the residents whereas the BN candidates lost a valuable opportunity to share with residents what they could do. Their priority, it would seem, was to be with Abdullah Badawi when he was visiting Rifle Range.
One activist with the PGCC Campaign Group pointed out that the PGCC developer’s plan to divert its required 30 per cent quota of low- and medium-cost housing to Rifle Range would lead to even more overcrowding in that already congested area. I wonder if the BN reps were even aware of that.