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10 APRIL 2024

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Guan Eng to bid farewell to Penang ferry on Thursday


DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng will bid farewell to the iconic Penang ferry on its last day of service on Thursday (Dec 31), before it is replaced by smaller transports meant only for pedestrians and motorcycles.

The government previously announced that the Penang ferry service for four-wheeled vehicles would cease operation on Jan 1, 2021, which Lim objected to. 

"I shall be going there at 10am Thursday with the reminder that Malaysians who cherish the iconic Penang ferry will neither forget nor forgive those responsible.

"MCA has never been so resolute as now in being fully determined to see the demise of the iconic Penang ferry service.

"MCA claims that the decision to terminate the iconic Penang ferries was driven by statistics and economics, rather than emotions or politics," Lim said in a statement today.

He accused Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong of making personal attacks against him for opposing the termination of the car-carrying ferry service.

Lim said there was no logic to Wee's allegation that he was behaving as if he was still the state's chief minister just because he raised this issue in public.

"Is it wrong for a parliamentarian and state assemblyperson from Penang to speak up on behalf of Penangites, particularly when the ferry terminal on the mainland is located in my parliamentary constituency of Bagan?" Lim asked.

The former finance minister added that Wee could not show proof that the Pakatan Harapan government had agreed to terminate and replace the ferry service with catamarans.

"(Wee) tried to drag in former transport minister Anthony Loke and even my sister, Senator Lim Hui Ying, as agreeing to the termination of the ferry service. 

"Both Loke and Hui Ying had vehemently denied his desperate attempts to divide DAP leaders with false allegations," he said.

Lim also questioned if the MCA president was accusing Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz of lying.

He said the minister had confirmed that his ministry, when it was under Lim, had stipulated the continuation of the ferry service as a condition for approving an RM30 million cash grant to Penang Port Sdn Bhd to run the service.

He added that the Harapan government never opposed to adding catamarans to the service, provided that the existing car-carrying ferries are maintained.

"We acknowledge its cost and the difficulty of finding suitable replacements and spare parts. New engines can be installed on the iconic ferries or 3D manufacturing can produce the spare parts no longer in production. 

"That is why we insisted that the two or three remaining ferries be allowed to operate.

"In other words, the catamarans will be operating in parallel with the existing ferry service as practised by many countries, such as Hong Kong and Canada, a co-existence of heritage and modernity," Lim said.

This issue stirred the waters in Penang with Lim and Wee getting embroiled in a war of words over the discontinuation of the iconic but ageing fleet of car-carrying ferries.

The current fleet of double-decked ferries, which take over 20 minutes per journey, are due to be phased out this week and be replaced with catamarans.

Meanwhile, Penang Port Commission chairperson Tan Teik Cheng expressed his disappointment with Lim for whipping up political sentiments among Penangites without concern for the lives and safety of the people.

"In an attempt to conceal his narrow political agenda, he resorted to various so-called tactics. He raised Penang’s 'heritage' and exploited the state’s 'history' among locals as if the Perikatan Nasional government was oppressing Penangites.

"I once again call on Lim to immediately stop peddling the Penang ferry issue. Consider the safety of ferry users, and do not exploit the preservation of cultural heritage as an outdated excuse to inflame the feelings of Penangites," the MCA vice-president said in a statement today.

Instead, Tan accused Lim of allowing heritage buildings to be sold to foreigners, forests to be razed, and land reclamation projects to be carried out at coastal areas when the latter was chief minister.

"How ironic that he did not feel any loss or nostalgia when ordering the implementation of projects which eradicated Penang's nature and cultural heritage," he said. - Mkini

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