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Wanna peek into the future…?

PGCC from Komtar

From one sorry-looking tower to another two: This is what the PGCC will look like from Komtar – but please, please remember that there are going to be 38 other high-rise towers in front of the crooked twin towers!

Just read a Star report that says Penang Chief Minister Koh Tsu Koon has rejected ‘suggestions’ (I thought they were demands) from NGOs for more public hearings on the PGCC. He was echoing State Local Government Committee chairman Teng Hock Nan’s statement on Sunday that there would not be any public hearings on the project.

Why are we subsidising the profitable IPPs?

Why are Malaysians – via Petronas – providing billions of ringgit in gas subsidies to the profitable IPPs?

And yet, the government is always complaining it has to pay so much in fuel subsidies for the people. What about the gas subsidies to the IPPs? The owners of the IPPs are not exactly poor. In fact, they are prominent billionaires.

So why is all the focus only on Tenaga, which is being squeezed in the middle?

That’s the question I tried to explore in this article for IPS.

Toh Kin Woon, the BN’s most principled politician

I was glad to see the Malaysiakini interview with Toh Kin Woon and sorry to hear that he is retiring from politics soon.

I would say Toh, the Gerakan vice-chairman and Penang state exco member, is the most principled politician in the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition. He has called for the abolition of the Internal Security Act and was one of a handful of ruling coalition politicians to say he disagreed with ISA arrests in the past.

What I find most remarkable about Kin Woon is his down-to-earth nature, his sincerity and utter humility – the total absence of any arrogance of power. What a stark contrast to many other BN politicians!

Public meetings for lamp-posts – but not for PGCC

gold bazaar penang

A few years ago, the government allocated funds to turn parts of the area around Jalan Kapitan Keling in Penang into a “Gold Bazaar”.

According to Seri:

…the Gold Bazaar was proposed by former Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohammad after a trip to Dubai and upon being told that the majority of the jewellery on display were from Penang, Malaysia. Having seen the vast market potential, it was then proposed that the areas of Jalan Kapitan Keling, Buckingham Street and Campbell Street be gazetted as the Gold Bazaar of Penang. (In 2004), the Federal Government allocated RM6 million to start the project.

Never mind how the project turned out – I haven’t heard anyone talking about the “Gold Bazaar”, so that is an indication – but what is relevant to the PGCC is that the council invited the local business community, the Penang Heritage Trust and environmentalists for discussions on the project. I understand this was not required by law, but the council, to its credit, allowed some measure of public participation. Imagine, this could be done for a project worth only a few million ringgit.

Amidst the judicial shambles, a stunning Federal Court decision

All that bad news about the judiciary and the shambles it is in. Yet, amidst the uproar and outrage (and rightfully so) over the Lingam tape, there was much cause for rejoicing especially in Sarawak: a sweet victory for natives over the Sarawak state government on the issue of native customary rights, courtesy of a landmark Federal Court decision.

Thanks to a reader for sending this news item to me with the following comments:

This was a bit dicey — but now, this is the end of the line for the Sarawak government’s position; the State AG, if he repeats the position he has been stating all this time, will be in breach of the law as this is now the law of the land. It is truly a great victory for the natives and for customary rights.

Congratulations to the Federal Court.