Guan Eng questions transport minister’s ‘unholy silence’ following MOF’s decision to continue Penang’s iconic ferry service

Emmanuel Santa Maria Chin
·3-min read
Bagan MP Lim Guan Eng speaks to reporters during a press conference in Parliament August 27, 2020. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Bagan MP Lim Guan Eng speaks to reporters during a press conference in Parliament August 27, 2020. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 20 — Transport Minister Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong should direct his ministry to facilitate the continuation of Penang’s 126-year-old ferry service and break his silence on the matter, former Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng said today.

The Bagan MP said Wee as the minister should immediately instruct stakeholders in the Penang Port Commission (PPC) and Penang Port Sdn Bhd (PPSB) to halt their preparations of terminating the ferry service especially after approval for its continuation has been given by the Finance Ministry.

“Ever since Finance Minister (Datuk Seri) Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz acceded to my request in Parliament on December 17, 2020, to continue the 126-year old ferry services, there is an unholy silence from Wee, PPC and PPSB whether the service will continue as instructed.

“Wee has chosen to spread lies that I had made the decision to terminate and replace the ferry service with catamarans. This is patently false when Wee cannot show proof,” Lim wrote in a statement today.

The former finance minister also pointed out how Tengku Zafrul had himself confirmed that Lim did place a condition in writing during his tenure in office with Pakatan Harapan for the ferry services to continue with RM30 million cash incentive payment going the way of PPSB.

This came after Wee, through a posting on Facebook, had accused Lim of supporting the idea of terminating the nostalgic ferry services and for it to be replaced in catamarans when he was finance minister in Pakatan Harapan’s government.

Lim today alleged that on the contrary, Wee and PPC Chairman Datuk Tan Teck Cheng had decided to terminate the ferry service outright on December, 31, 2020, without considering any sentiment for its unique historic and heritage value.

“Tan even said that the decision to terminate the 126-year old ferries was driven by statistics and economics, rather than emotions or politics,” Lim quipped.

Lim also accused Wee of dirty politics and suggested the decision to unilaterally terminate ferry services was the product of ‘betrayal’ against the folks of Penang by his party MCA and its leaders within the Transport Ministry and PPC.

“If Wee and Tan choose to defy the instruction of the Finance Minister by pretending there has been no change in the decision to terminate the ferry services or no U-turn to use Tan’s own words, then this will spark a legal wrangle.

“Can the Transport Ministry legally ignore a condition to continue ferry services imposed by the Finance Ministry, on the RM30 million funding to PPSB to facilitate the takeover of the Penang ferry services?” Lim questioned.

Last week, Tengku Zafrul had given his assurance that the RM30 million incentive to the PPC would be honoured to fund the operation of the ferry services, during his Budget winding-up speech in the Dewan Rakyat.

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