If Teng Chang Yeow Is Opposed To The Penang International Airport’s Expansion, Then He Should Explain How Is The Interests Of Penang Best Served By No Airport Expansion?(en/cn)

Press Statement By Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng In Komtar, George Town On 21.6.2014.

The Penang state government regrets the irresponsible and continued misrepresentation made by opposition BN in blaming the Pakatan Rakyat state government for not having any proper or long-term planning for the Penang international airport that resulted in the Kedah state government asking for a new international airport to be built in Kulim. 5 facts must be stated here.

One, it is the Federal government and not the Penang state government that owns, operates and regulates the Penang International Airport. The Penang state government has no choice but to comply with the Transport Ministry on any expansion plans which are solely decided by them. During the last RM 250 million Penang International airport expansion project, contractors were appointed by the Transport Ministry and the state government has no say and was never consulted. And yet, BN continues to blame the Penang state government for the shameful flooding at the Penang International Airport. Is BN also going to blame the Penang state government for the airport roof leaking every time it rains or the dirty toilets?

Two, Penang BN Chair Teng Chang Yeow opposes the building of a new international airport in Kulim that is supported by Penang UMNO. This conflicting position between Teng and UMNO Penang is confusing. Can Teng and UMNO get its act together, meet and decide what is the actual and consistent position of BN Penang? Does Penang UMNO’s or Teng’s position represents BN Penang’s position?

Three, priority should be given to expanding the Penang International Airport to two runways, an integrated air cargo hub and a Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul(MRO) facility. This is not only cheaper at RM600 million compared to building a new international airport in Kulim costing at least RM2 billion. It is also more productive and economically feasible to leverage on Penang’s position as a world-class electrical and electronic cluster, manufacturing hub, tourism destination and services sector.

Four, economic figures show that Penang International Airport has been annually the second or the third busiest passenger airport in Malaysia for the last 6 years due to Penang’s strong tourist arrivals and health tourism. The Penang air cargo facility is also the top two most profitable in Malaysia. Penang is also No.1 in terms of foreign direct investment (FDI) from 2010 to August 2013 with RM 19.7 billion or nearly 20% of Malaysia’s total FDI. As FDIs focus on exports, there is huge potential for future increasing volumes in air cargo. Further the growing services industry in Penang promises exciting possibilities and opportunities which can benefit the establishment of an integrated air cargo hub and a MRO facility, since there is none in the northern region. It is untrue for Teng to claim that the services industry alone with the existing companies of Wilmar, HIS and Citigroup which was set up after 2010 justifies the need for two runways. The strong growth in the 3 sectors of manufacturing FDI, services and tourism justify the need for an expansion airport upgrade.

Finally, it is not true that the state government has not followed up with the Federal government or has no more available land. Around 60 acres of land was first acquired near the airport after 2008 and with sea reclamation, there is between 300-500 acres for any future expansion needs of the Penang International Airport. Bear in mind that the RM250 million airport expansion project commenced after PR took power in 2008. After that, the state government has numerous discussions with the Federal government, especially Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Idris Jala, without any conclusive action.

The growing congestion at the Penang International Airport has resulted in public complaints that the domestic departure lounge looks at times look like a “pasar malam”. Last year there were 5.5 million passengers and is expected to reach the enforced maximum capacity of 6.5 million passengers by next year. An expansion is urgently needed.

It is regrettable that Teng opposes the Penang state government’s request for expansion of the Penang International Airport to 2 runways, an integrated air cargo facility and a MRO hub. If Teng is opposed to the Penang International Airport’s expansion, then he should explain how is the interests of Penang best served by no airport expansion?

LIM GUAN ENG

槟州首席部长林冠英於2014年6月21日在光大发表声明:

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若邓章耀执意反对扩建槟国际机场,那他必须说服槟城人,为何维持现状对槟城人最好?
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对于槟州国阵三番四次发表不负责言论,扭曲并批评槟州民联政府,指我们在槟国际机场上没有长远计划,导致吉打州政府要求在居林兴建一座全新的国际机场一事,槟州政府委实感到遗憾。兹列下五点声明,以正视听。

第一,槟国际机场的拥有权及营运权归联邦政府所属,非槟州政府所能控制。交通部掌握大权,他们若决定了任何计划,槟州政府别无选择,唯有跟从。以上次耗资2亿5000万令吉的槟国际机场扩建计划为例,交通部在过程中全权主导,包括任命承包商等,槟州政府在这项计划上从未被咨询,自然也没有办法影响决定。即便如此,当机场出现令人羞耻的淹水事件,国阵就一直对着槟民联政府穷追猛打。接下来,当机场再出现漏水、厕所肮脏的时候,国阵是不是又要把所有的帐都算在民联政府的头上?

第二,槟州巫统支持在居林兴建一座国际机场,与此同时,身为槟州国阵主席的邓章耀却公然反对这项建议,两者之间的矛盾冲突,实在令人困扰。到底槟州巫统的意见代表槟州国阵,还是邓章耀说了算?看来邓章耀与巫统有必要坐下来好好谈出共识,贯彻槟国阵的真正立场。

第三,在居林兴建一座新机场至少要耗资20亿令吉,而在槟国际机场增建新一条跑道、综合空运设施,以及一个航空保养、维修及检查中心,则仅需6亿令吉。以经济层面来看,提升槟国际机场更有效率,因为槟城已是世界级的电子群聚、制造中心、旅游景点以及服务中心。

第四,经济数据显示,过去六年来,随着州内旅游业及医药旅游的强劲成长,槟国际机场载客率已是国内第二、第三繁忙的机场。而槟州航空货运亦是国内前两名最赚钱的。不要忘记,槟州的外来直接投资额是大马之最,从2010年至2013年8月期间,槟州共吸引了197亿令吉,约为国内总投资额的两成。外来投资商十分重视出口,显而易见,未来我们的货物空运必定很有潜能大幅度的成长。

除此之外,州内强打“无限可能与机会”的服务业走势凌厉,势必对于建设综合空运设施,以及航空保养、维修及检查中心一事予以加值的作用。既然现在北马尚未出现类似的中心,那更应该在槟城落实此项计划。邓章耀单以威尔玛、IHS及2010年进驻的花旗集团概括服务业,指它们需要两条跑道是不正确的。外来投资制造业、服务业及旅游业三个领域的强势成长,才是提升、扩建机场的王道。

最后,说我们没有向联邦政府跟进,或是没有土地,这是不正确的指控。2008年槟民联执政后,槟国际机场曾进行一次价值2亿5000万令吉的提升工程,当时有关方面填海索地,扩建范围达60公顷。我们也预留了300至500公顷的空间,给槟国际机场未来扩建所需。此后,槟民联政府亦多次和联邦政府洽谈,特别是首相署部长拿督依德理斯,但始终没有进展。

日益拥挤的槟国际机场,已经被游客屡次投诉,国内班机的出境等候室更被形容为“夜市场”。去年,这机场共有550万乘客,预计明年就会达到承载量的极限,即650万人。由此可见,扩建机场已是迫在眉睫的需求。

邓章耀反对扩建槟国际机场,让机场得以增建新一条跑道、综合空运设施,以及一个航空保养、维修及检查中心一事,我深感遗憾。若邓章耀执意反对,那他必须说服槟城人,为何维持现状对槟城人最好?

林冠英

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