EORGE TOWN, May 14 — Amid the ongoing airport debate, Lim Guan Eng again assured Penangites that the proposal to built one in Kulim can only take Penang’s to “greater heights”.
The finance minister urged Penangites to have faith in the ability of their own Penang International Airport (PIA) to compete with the proposed RM1.6 billion Kulim Airport next door.
“I believe that PIA will be able to compete and soar to greater heights,” he said when contacted today.
The former Penang chief minister was responding to criticism from political opponents that he had opposed the Kulim Airport previously, only to make a “U-turn” after Pakatan Harapan took over Putrajaya.
He said he had previously opposed to the Kulim Airport as the previous Barisan Nasional federal government had refused to expand the PIA.
”I said that if they wanted to build the Kulim airport, they must expand the PIA too,” he clarified.
He said even then he did not want to oppose development in other states.
Lim reiterated that the proposed Kulim Airport will not have any impact on the PIA.
“I believe there will not be any impact on Penang because definitely Penang will still be the preferred option and we are looking at an expansion to 16 million passengers for Penang,” he said.
He said the Kulim Airport should be viewed as complementary to the PIA.
“If the private sector wants to put in billions into the airport, it won’t hurt and it will bring development to Kedah,” he said.
He added that the construction of a Kulim Airport will not put a stop to expansion plans for the PIA.
He said it is not fair for the PIA to get an expansion without allowing Kedah to get its proposed Kulim Airport which does not even involve public funds.
“The other states are very angry too, they are saying how can we say only Penang can get development but what about the other states? Kedah deserves development too,” he said.
He said there was nothing wrong for the Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to want to bring development to his home state by pushing for the Kulim Airport.
Lim reiterated his stance that the Finance Ministry does not oppose to the Kulim Airport proposal as it does not involve public funding and that it will be privately funded in full.
The PIA will undergo an RM1.2 billion expansion to increase its passenger capacity from 6.5 million to 16 million passengers per annum.
The PIA exceeded its capacity by recording 7.8 million passengers last year.