GEORGE TOWN, Aug 1 — Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the state will send a “pleading” letter to Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad for RM10 billion to fund part of the Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP).
Chow said the state secretariat took days to finalise the details of the letter as the state is asking for significant amount from the federal government.
“We hope to send the letter, with a pleading tone, by late afternoon today,” he said in a press conference today.
The state government is seeking funds for two components of its PTMP: the Pan Island Link 1 (PIL1) and Light Rail Transit (LRT).
The PIL1 is a 19.5km highway that is set to cost RM7.5 billion while the LRT stretching 29.5km with 27 stations is estimated to cost RM8.4 billion.
Chow said the letter will include the full facts and details of both projects for the federal government’s consideration.
The state has obtained approval for both projects and its proposed Penang South Reclamation (PSR) that is the funding module for the entire RM46 billion PTMP.
Chow said the state was willing to scale down the PSR if it could obtain alternative funding from the federal government for the PIL1 and LRT components.
The PSR project will create 4,500 acres of reclaimed land on three man-made islands off the southern coast of Penang island.
Civil society groups and the fishing communities affected by the project have repeatedly objected against the PSR.
The state government has since formed a taskforce to resolve issues with the fishermen over the PSR project.
State exco Dr Afif Bahardin, who heads the taskforce, said it held a meeting last Monday.
“The taskforce has agreed to form a sub-committee to look into mitigation plans for the fishermen,” he said.
He said the mitigation body is needed to mediate between the fishermen and the authorities.
Afif also stressed the focus of the taskforce was not to only to offer cash handouts to the affected fishermen.
“We want to look at empowering the fishermen to ensure the sustainability of the fishing industry and the livelihood of the fishermen,” he said.
He stressed that it was important to sustain and protect the interest of fishermen and to mitigate any issues regarding the PSR.