The Penang state government is willing to meet with the Transport Minister Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha to discuss the stop work issued by the Penang State EXCO on 12 November 2010 on the Ipoh-Padang Besar Electrified Double Track Project (EDTP). I am willing to listen to Datuk Seri Kong’s explanation that this RM 15 billion project did not cause or worsen the worst floods ever in Kedah. If convinced by Datuk Seri Kong, I am willing to recommend an immediate lifting of the stop-work order on the contractor, MMC-Gamuda JV Sdn Bhd.
On 12 November 2010, the Penang Government had directed Majlis Perbandaran Seberang Perai(MPSP) to issued a stop-work order as a pre-emptive move necessary to prevent major floods in the Penang on the same scale as in Kedah. This follows the statements by both the Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Chor Chee Heung and Kedah Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Azizan Abdul Razak that the recent major floods in Kedah were possibly due to the project.
The state government wanted the contractor, MCC-Gamuda Joint Venture Sdn Bhd, to provide a written guarantee that it will bear all losses should a similar flood problem arise on the mainland as a result of the project. Further MMC-Gamuda must also remove and tear down any structure built by them that causes water retention or water to overflow if flooding occurs. The contractor would also be required to conduct inspection on flood-prone areas in the project construction zone with Penang state EXCO members Lim Hock Seng and Law Choo Kiang. I will be awaiting their reports before deciding whether and when to lift the stop-work order.
I regret that Datuk Chor Chee Heung now denies saying that the project caused the flood problems. On 5 November 2010, the Star quoted him in a report, ‘Double-tracking project worsened flood situation in Kedah – Chor’ and again on 6 November, ‘Chor: Railway project contributed to the problem’.
Chor was quoted in both reports as saying that he had informed Transport Minister Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha on the matter. Chor even said that his house Taman Lumba Kuda was flooded for the first time ever under four feet of water. Since Star is a MCA paper, it is unlikely that Chor is misquoted as there were no corrections in The Star after these two reports were published on 5 and 6 November 2010.
The Penang state government is only carrying out our public duty to safeguard the people’s interests because we do not want the major floods in Kedah to recur in Penang. I take note the warning issued by KTM Bhd that halting the project would result in costly time delays, as well as affect the tourism industry.
However the state government would not budge until we received guarantees that can assure the people that all flood-prevention measures have been taken by the company. We should put the people’s welfare and public interests above profit considerations of one or two companies.