The newly appointed Penang Island Municipal Council (MPPP) chief, Patahiyah Ismail, has come out to say she is not in favour of using Council funds for the controversial RMR50 million Penang International Convention Centre (PICC).
Site plans showing the proposed PICC (in brown) located directly in front of the existing Penang International Sports Arena (Pisa)
“I would not want to spend the council’s money on this project. This is my opinion,” she was reported as saying in The Star today.
Patahiyah, who joined the MPPP as an architect in 1985, said it would be better if other parties built the PICC using their own funds. She said it was still not certain if the project would actually take off, adding that it was now being handled by the state government.
“There are proposals for developers to undertake the project or the project be implemented elsewhere.”
Well done, Patahiyah!
It is a relief that the MPPP has taken a firm stand against the use of Council funds for the project. The Council’s budget is slightly in the red this year.
In a way, this could actually be a blessing in disguise for the state government as it will allow the Council to use extra funds on essential services and improve its delivery in more visible ways that actually benefit the rakyat.
For example, the funds could be used to upgrade public markets, improve the Council’s antiquated computer system and clean up rivers (the land along the Sungai Pinang river bank belongs to the Council.) Politically, such tangible improvements will benefit more people than the PICC and actually help increase support for the state government.
The Seberang Perai Council nearly went bankrupt because of its building projects. (The Batu Kawan Stadium is now virtually a white elephant, while the council spent millions more on a new multi-storey office complex for itself.)
If at all developers now build the PICC, the state government must ensure that any state land allocated to the developers is at market price. In this way, we will know whether the project is really viable in the first place. (But remember, other developers already have plans for convention centres on the island.)