Does the Chief Minister know?

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has been signed between KXP Airport City Holdings and Aeroport de Paris Ingenierie (ADPI) in preparation to build the Kulim International Airport (KXP). 

On that specific event, the Kedah Menteri Besar, Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir was present. During the MOU signing event, it was announced that the groundbreaking will take place in the coming November. The plan to acquire 3,982 hectares of land for the mammoth project has also been finalised. The state government has also enforced the Section 4 of Land Acquisition Act 1960 to prevent any transfer or sale of the involved land and the negotiation with landowners will begin soon. The Kulim International Airport is expected to have their first flight as early as January 2024.

The two companies who signed the MOU looks legit. KXP Airport City Holdings, which has been entrusted by the Kedah state government to manage the development of the airport, has been in serious planning and negotiations. They have opened up tender for consultants to conduct Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), Social Impact  Assessment (SIA) and Traffic Impact Assessment (TIA) August last year. Needless to say for Aeroport de Paris Ingenierie, they have been the airport experts with various experiences of building and upgrading airports all around the world.

With all those hype, negotiations and discussions surrounding the development of the KXP, it is a surprise that the Penang Chief Minister, Chow Kon Yeow said that the Penang state government is unaware of the MOU.

I remember well that the Economic Affairs Minister, Datuk Seri Azmin Ali has mentioned that the Northern Corridor Implementation Authority (NCIA), which is under the Northern Corridor Economic Region (NCER) is the organisation responsible to look through the proposal of the development of KXP. And our Penang Chief Minister is a council member of the NCER. 

Development of an airport must have also involved the Federal Government’s Transport Ministry, which is under the leadership of Anthony Loke. I wonder if Chow’s comrade ever discussed the KXP updates with him.

Even as the state’s CEO, they attend meetings with the Prime Minister and every respective state’s Menteri Besars and Chief Minister. Access to  the Prime Minister and the Federal Government must have not been difficult for Chow especially when they are from the same coalition. 

And I really wonder, with all the connections, how can the Penang Chief Minister be ignorant of the updates of the Kulim International Airport? 

In an article in Invest Kedah magazine, it stated that three independent studies, about 20% of cargo load and 30% of passengers that travel via Penang International Airport comes from the main towns of Kedah and Northern Perak. That numbers are huge enough to impact the economy of Penang.

While the Penang Chief Minister might not be able to do much to influence the development of KXP as it is not  “terpulang kepada dia”, he should be focusing on things that are under his control, or maybe “not”?

The feasibility studies of the Penang Undersea Tunnel that was last said will be completed by September 2019, I wonder whether it is complete yet or not. The last time the Chief Minister mentioned it, it was 90% complete. How long do they need to study the other 10%?

Penang Transport Master Plan which was initiated by the DAP government about a decade ago, is still only on paper? Traffic issues and population does not wait for the government to work on the proposal, it will keep growing no matter what. Whatever challenges there are to implement the PTMP, the government has to solve it for the benefit of the people.

While it is not the rainy season yet, we may not know whether it will still flood in Penang, has the state government implemented the flood mitigation project which has been mentioned for so long?

It is not about criticising the current government, but it really does seem that these proposed ideas have been pending for way too long. Wondering what is the real problem at hand.

These are just a few of the main things that have been dragging on since years ago. If these are not the priorities of the state government, then I wonder what they are. Or is the CM just as ignorant of the development of the state as he is towards the development of the KXP?

Perhaps the only fast moving pace projects are the developments of luxury residential projects.

This article is published in Kwong Wah Yit Poh in Chinese dated 25 February 2020.