Botanic Garden fiasco: Who was responsible?

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The Penang Botanic Garden case is a bit complicated if you are trying to establish who exactly is responsible and who contributed to the mess.

The ill-conceived eco-stream walkway and the bambusetam projects were approved during the previous administration. So that part is clear.

Two other projects – the garden mall and the administrative and visitors’ centre – were approved during the tenure of the present administration in Penang.

Who gave the approval? There are conflicting versions as to who gave the green light for the design and final form of these two projects or whether approval was given at all.

The Garden Department people claimed that a technical review committee consisting of the Garden Director, the Drainage and Irrigation Department (JPS) and Public Works Department (JKR) reviewed and approved the proposals for these two projects. The proposals were prepared by consultants appointed by KL in the latter part of 2008.

The question is, was the Penang state exco told about the plan or shown that it included the arches and all those car parks and concrete structures? Did the exco approve it? Was the plan shown and tacit approval given i.e. no objections by the exco? Were the exco’s views even sought?

If the plan was shown and views sought, then the exco could have had a say.

If the Garden’s Department and technical review committee did not inform the exco, then this is a case of the civil service not following proper procedure and making decisions without reference to the exco, said a source familiar with the operations of the Garden.

Crucially, the Botanic Gardens’ Management Committee never met in 2008 as neither the Gardens Department nor the state exco called for a meeting.

Only one meeting was called in 2009, but by then things were already in motion.

For the garden mall and the administrative centre, the appointment of consultants and the design took place after the change of government (around the middle of 2008).

The Director of the PBG and the Director of JPS (the implementing agency) would be the persons responsible for these two development projects. The state exco, however, had the capacity to make sure that these agencies consult with or report to it on various projects under the relevant exco portfolio.

The architect-landscape consultants for the two projects were probably appointed by KL (JPS HQ?). The company got both jobs, budgeted at RM5 million.

The two consultant companies proposed by the previous committee under Teng Chang Yeow were rejected even though they had had a presentation of their preliminary concepts which were not bad.

The newly appointed company which got both projects was unknown in PBG circles; neither did the firm seem familiar with the garden. The consultants thought that what they were designing was a garden mall outside the Botanic Garden and hence they put a lot of parking lots and landscaped it like a public park. They did not seem to know that the expanded Garden was supposed to be a car-free zone and the shooting club should be removed and should not be in the design, said the source.

Even after it was explained to them that the PBG had been expanded from 72 acres to 590 acres, they still put in more ‘hard-scape’ and car parks including some for the shooting club, said the source.

In December 2008, when the Director of the Garden presented the garden mall design and administration and visitors’ centre at the public forum on the ‘Future of the Penang Botanic Garden’, there were a few small arches but no car parks.

Even then a number of people at the forum rejected the design and asked for it to be redrawn. By the middle of 2009, the design changed without those familiar with the Garden being unaware of it, and that was when the two big arches and more car parks came in and the tender exercise took place.

Did the JPS and the Garden Department approve the design change? Soon after, federally appointed civil service people issued an ultimatum to the state government to clear the area or risk losing the projects. Could the state exco have rejected the projects at that point?

The Tourism Ministry now says that they will announce the date of the demolition of the arches together with the proposed salvage job, which would include a larger pond with giant water lilies. The lily pond was in the original project brief which the consultants ignored.

Now a proper investigation needs to be carried out on how such decisions are made and if the necessary consultation was obtained.

There are important lessons to be learned here that could also be applied to other federally funded projects in the state.

Federally appointed officers should not be issuing ultimatums to the state government, nor should they by-pass the state government in ramming through projects in the state.

While federal funds are of course welcome, not all federally funded projects are necessarily good for the state, and these should be studied with a critical eye with extensive consultation and views sought. If these are projects for the public, then they should go through the usual channels and come up for debate and scrutiny in the State Assembly.

The state too needs to be extremely vigilant about projects that are unsustainable and not in the best interests of the people of Penang in the long-run.

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DG

Obviuosly Pearl is not very happy with LGE’s performance as a CM in Penang. Based on Pearl’s comment is that LGE should not “harap” FED’s help at all, LGE should not be ” pulled by the nose ” because he want FED’s financial aid.
Let’s just say, if can, Pearl want Penang to be like Singapore, independent and achieve success on it’s own without FED help. Penang’s destiny and fate is in it’s own hands. Don’t put itself in the position where other parties can bully it.

SK

One LGE is worth all the Gerakan, MCA and UMNO goons thrown in. Throw in that Teng hock Nam for good measure.
LGE is pulling out all the BN cohorts from the closet. Well done LGE! I ahve no regret voting for you. I am amazed at how quick those … guys come up with their 2 cents worth of advice. They are the people who spoilt the civil servants (Ketuanan civil servant?) in the first place. Penang has no SDO. Penang has an SPO (State Punishment Officer). You penang guys will not get any fund I tell you.

Pearl

First it was the botanical garden got sold for 7 million. Then something else got sold off. Then something something else. Before long, those who swore allegiance with LGE would be sored, because their Penang would be sold off, piece by piece, by no other than LGE. All BN has to do is pancing. Hook 7 millions and LGE bites. Hook another 7 millions and LGE bites again. Hook yet another 7 millions, another bite from LGE. Before long, Penang is gone. All gone. No more Botanical Garden. No more Penang Hill. No more Esplanade. No more Komtar. No more… Read more »

tunglang

Speak the TRUTH with facts, not anger fantasies. Your ‘realities’ SUCKS!…

Mumble, jumble incoherent assumptions and lies!

Since when did you learn the first Federal LOGICS?

ghkok

Pearl,

I really cannot figure out what you are talking about. I wish to offer my opinion and to debate with you but I just cannot make sense of what you are writing.

Hi Anil, with all due respect, is there supposed to be some sort of filtering on this website against unintelligible writings ? I think it will help.

kl_boy

yeah. my mistake at times truthfully. Anyway, let’s close the topic, got other headlines coming in (or more headaches??) to comment on.

kl_boy

Pearl. It’s because i care about Penang as I do about Malaysia. It’s my land of birth, where I grew up and hopefully my resting place as well. Having said that, if Penangites feel that they don’t want some outsider commenting on this, I’ll hold my tongue then.

tunglang

kl_boy,
we Penangites truly, gratefully appreciate your contributions to this intelligent blog. Just because some loud-mouth, senseless (commenter) reproached you doesn’t give that (person) the licence to bar you from saying your piece of mind.

Only Anil, the rightful owner of this blog has the right, kl_boy.

I love KL!

sarah

Dear kl_boy, I am a Penangite; born, bred and current resident; and I for one welcome your comments.

kl_boy

Thank you all. Just to be polite to both Eu Soon and Pearl, i’ll take back the comment on asking Eu Soon to stand for election (Pearl has a point in that). Sorry about that, Eu Soon.
For Pearl, i’ll ignore your comments and refrain from replying to any of yours in future. That should put a fence between both of us then.

Future4M

IT’S NOT ABOUT BN OR PR. IT’S ABOUT MULTI-LEVEL CORRUPTION SYSTEM WHICH CREATED BY THE CROOKS FOR ESPECIALLY THE PAST 25 YEARS WHICH MAKE US FALL BEHIND S’PORE FOR 10-15 YEARS OR ELSE WE ALREADY AT PAR AS DEVELOPED NATION. THINGS THEY BUY AND PROJECTS THEY DO WITH MARK-UP PRICES. THESE INFLATED PRICES BECOME THE COST TO THE RAKYAT. NO MONEY FOR BUDGET, RAKYAT PAY. GLC LOST MONEY, RAKYAT PAY. UNDERTABLE / TOP-OF-TABLE / BANK TO BANK SWIFT OFFSHORE, RAKYAT PAY. JUST FIGURE YOURSELF, THE AMOUNT IS SCARY. WHY MACC NEVER GO AFTER THEM, THEY CAN GET EVIDENCE FROM THE… Read more »

Pearl

It is the system. The system itself is corrupt. Whether it be Koh Tsu Koon or Lim Guan Eng, Penang State government will never be able to function as it suppose to be due to deep rooted corruptions. … While they may not be as dirty as UMNO DAP is not clean. (What was the advance payment)… paid to (the) architect who drew up the plan for that ~PICC~ white elephant(?)… It is the mindset that must change. If Penang is to have a bright future we must have someone who dare to take on the FED. The FED was… Read more »

ghkok

Pearl, Surely, it CANNOT be “Anwar Ibrahim who let Lim Guan Eng be the Chief Minister of Penang”. You must be out of your mind ! DAP won the most number of seats in Penang and logically DAP selects its own candidate for Chief Minister-ship. Same thing with PKR in Sgor and PAS in Kedah and Kelantan, although slightly different in Perak. Anyway, moving away from the venom and tirades, and going back to the issue of Federal funding and Federal projects in the States, in my opinion, LGE and the Pakatan people took the most sensible approach post-Mar 08.… Read more »

kl_boy

Eu Soon. Be our guest, u’re always welcome to contest for the CM post also. I’ll also make sure i remind u when the election comes that you need to conduct an anti-LGE campaign ok ? That should be fair. Gerakan K, see your party at the polls. Very interested to see your performance at both state and federal level, must be very unsecure to have your chairman as a ‘backdoor’ minister, any time UMNO can throw him out…… In any case, the GE should be coming in the near future. suggest you start doing the ground work now.

Pearl

Whether or not Mr. Ong contest in the next election has nothing to do with a KLboy.

You are not even a Penangite why you kay poh in this matter?

Yang

Pearl, whether KL-boy is a Penangite or not, he is still a Malaysian and as such he has every right to voice his opinion here. Are you like your master Najib & UMNO trying to censor us here. Well you cannot because now is a globalise world. No matter how we will continue to speak up without fear or favour unlike you and Gerakan K…

Pearl

KL Residents also do not appreciate Penangites to campur tangan on their business.

Last time I check KL_Boy is not a Penangite.

Whether or not Mr. Ong contest in the next election is Penang’s matter and KL_Boy, being not a Penangite, should not get involved.

But perhaps this is way too deep for brainless machais, like you.

tunglang

Anil, is your blog restricted to Penangites only? Someone dares to forbid non-Penangites to contribute to this blog, sensible, constructive and intelligent discourse!
Please answer my question for the benefits of Malaysians and the global communities.

kingkong

The next thing comes the language, food, race and dialect, class etc. Even speaking Hokkien will not qualify. Must be Penang Hokkien slang.

Ong Eu Soon

LGE also like Penang Second Bridge. He never question any thing because he afraid of losing federal funding. He keep his silent. Now it is clear that Penangites need to foot the bill by paying for exorbitant fees crossing both the old and the new bridges. LGE only began to voice his objection. Isn’t it too late now. When he has the bargaining chip, he trow it away. After realising how bad the situation is only LGE want to fight back. Too late! All this only shown the total incompetent of LGE as a CM and the leader for change… Read more »

Ong Eu Soon

From the outburst of LGE against Nik Ali alleging that the state government was bullied to follow the instructions of SDO. It is clear that the exco has been briefed about the project. Why in the first place LGE never go against the proposal? LGE has made it clear in his outburst that he has no choice but to accept the instructions of SDO because he did not want to jeopardize any federal funding. Now LGE seem to has a change of mind he seem like he rather loss all federal funding in his pursuit to quarrel with Nik Ali.… Read more »

Pearl

The single real issue is Lim Guan Eng is useless, as useless as Koh Tsu Koon.

Their only difference is Koh Tsu Koon is useless in a quite way while Lim Guan Eng is useless while being a Tin Kosong, making a lot of loud noises.

DG

Pearl
23 July 2010 at 6.17pm · Reply

Did you miss the part that the Penang people are used to _not_ getting anything from the Fed government?

And yet we Penang people thrive

Gerakan K
23 July 2010 at 5.27pm · Reply

LGE and his sleeping team

Pearl & Gerakan K, are not denying the fact who is responsible for the fiasco.
They just asked that the State Government to be more ALERT n Proactive before the issue becomes a “NO Turning Back ” issue.

Pearl

Check, please check Mr. Anil’s blog and see if I ever say that the FED is good.

Go check now, and meanwhile, machais like you better learn how to read.

It seems that you people do not know how to read and just like your master… open mouth before powering up your brain.

wandererAUS

Gerakan K

Your blooming logic way of thinking….equally, no one doubt, the UMNO/BN mudheads were responsible!

Gerakan K

LGE and his sleeping team

Pearl

We fired a (political) eunuch and hired a sleeper.

Why is our luck so lousy?

Dhep

Did you miss the part where the federal party said the allocation for Penang will be withheld if they don’t agree to this project?

Yati

BN is getting the Little Napoleans to flex their muscles.

Pearl

Did you miss the part that the Penang people are used to _not_ getting anything from the Fed government?

And yet we Penang people thrive.

K S Ong

Perhaps we should consider principle of ‘subsidiarity’ which will never see the light of day so long as BN is in charge of Federal Government. According to Wikipedia: Subsidiarity is an organizing principle that matters ought to be handled by the smallest, lowest or least centralized competent authority. The Oxford English Dictionary defines subsidiarity as the idea that a central authority should have a subsidiary function, performing only those tasks which cannot be performed effectively at a more immediate or local level. The concept is applicable in the fields of government, political science, cybernetics, management, military (Mission Command) and, metaphorically,… Read more »

tunglang

Anil, what about the on-going Penang Hill Railway so-called upgrading?

Need we see a repeat of another fiasco (before it is too late)?

What happened to the 2 stations’ antiquated but still functional cable motors? Are they sold off quietly (unrecorded)? Will Penang lose another heritage elements of priceless values due to greed and wanton decimation of heritage values?

Penangites should awake to these daylight robbery of Penang’s heritage before it is too late.

THE TANK

Teng Chang Yeow is still around in Penang.He should be able to tell us what actually transpired.
Just wonder if he have the … to tell the truth.

kingkong

Teng is telling with his precious Pearl shouting try to distract the issue and throw the blame.

Pearl

Watch what you are saying, machai.

You wanna call me names feel free, but never ever associate me with that (guy).

kingkong

Watch what you say… I never said that you are with him. Just that this Teng is also involved and it was distracted when someone shift the attention to another person

Pearl

Blatant lie from machai’s mouth…

YY

Botanic Garden fiasco: Who was responsible? The … woman Ng Yen Yen la. Who else?

Kit Carson

Thanks Netto for the insight.The greedy cronies will do anything for money and power. This is another classic case. And the Minister of Tourism…what can I say. She is still going around with a beaming smile, seeking publicity at every available opportunity. What a bunch…!

Pearl

Why blame the cronies only? Why the state EXCO from DAP who obviously didn’t do his job not getting part of the blame? Why? It is too easy to say that the Fed doesn’t follow proper procedure, but since there _is_ a procedure in place, the state EXCO ought to have brought it up and stop the thing from proceeding further. Has the state EXCO done that? No. Why not? Even if the state EXCO is not informed of what is going on that should not take away the responsibility of the state EXCO. To be an effective government the… Read more »

kingkong

Pearl of orient

Why not go and shout outside too? This website is not big enough for you to shout if the PR Governmnet is not telling you just as UMNO/Gerakan Federal Government is not telling the state government about the details of the Federal funded projects.