GEORGE TOWN: The idea to make Penang a Federal Territory (FT) was to turn it into a tax haven, claims state Federal Action Council chairman Zainal Abidin Osman.
After meeting Federal Territories (FT) Minister Tengku Adnan Mansor on Monday, Zainal said the minister’s intentions were misconceived.
Zainal, who is also state Umno chief, said Adnan had only “hoped, dreamt and visioned” Penang Island as an FT, not the entire state as reported.
“Tengku Adnan had meant well with his idea, it was just his hope. But despite it being highly unlikely, the topic has spiralled into one of paranoia by the Penang government.
“I would like to tell the state government that this FT is never likely to happen. It ends here. We hope this issue can be put to rest,” Zainal said in a press conference at the Boustead Building at Northam Road here today.
On Jan 31, Tengku Adnan told business radio station, BFM89.9 that if he had the chance, he wanted to turn Langkawi, parts of Malacca, and Penang into federal territories. Later, he included Tioman Island too.
Tengku Adnan, more popularly known as Ku Nan, said this was to ensure adequate funding, development, and housing for the said areas.
The suggestion was met with fierce opposition by the Penang government, with neighbouring Kedah also saying no to the Langkawi takeover by Putrajaya.
Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng was the most vocal against Adnan’s plan, saying an FT would usurp the powers of the governor, state assembly and the voting rights of Penangites.
He even launched a campaign to “love Penang” in response to Adnan’s plans, which Lim likened to that of a conqueror.
Meanwhile, Zainal said Lim should rest easy as the island cannot be turned into an FT without the state government’s approval.
“I am sure Lim knows the complications under the Federal Constitution that might not allow this to happen.
“Plus, it requires a two-thirds majority in the Dewan Rakyat, assent from the King, council of rulers and most importantly, the state government must agree,” Zainal said. -FMT