It is still not clear who will take over Penang port despite an earlier media report suggesting a decision had already been made.
Two local parties and two foreign groups are reported to be interested the country’s third largest port after Port Klang (Northport and Westports) and Port of Tanjung Pelepas in Johor.
Then there’s the proposal by the Penang state government.
The following parties are believed to have expressed interest in Penang port, according to The Edge (7 March 2011):
- Penang state government (reportedly made proposal to federal government)
- Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary
- Oriental Pearl Harbour Sdn Bhd (consortium led by Siew Ka Wei)
- DP World (Dubai World’s port operations arm)
- “consortium made up of an India-based company and the Pahang royalty” (“details of parties and proposals are scarce”)
The decision will be made by the Public-Private Partnership Unit (UKAS), which is supposed to be handling the port privatisation.
At present, Penang port is operated by Penang Port Sdn Bhd, which comes under the Ministry of Finance.
What exactly is the rationale for privatising this profitable port?
The port should remain in local public hands, under the Penang state government. If at all foreign expertise is needed, it can always be hired. The port is a strategic asset and policies and pricing should be aimed at facilitating and promoting local business while complementing – not competing with – other local ports.
What do you think?