Teng: Barisan united on wresting Penang - Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia

Teng: Barisan united on wresting Penang

Teng: Barisan united on wresting Penang

PENANG Barisan Nasional (BN) chief Teng Chang Yeow has the herculean task of wresting the island from the DAP.

While his self-assurance may border on arrogance to some, he tells The Malay Mail that political nemesis, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, is not formidable and points to chinks in the state administration's armour.

Here is the first part of a question-and-answer sessions with Teng (TCY).

MM: What are BN's chances of regaining Penang?

TCY: We know it will be a tough election throughout the country.

As BN leader in Penang, I have to ensure the team has a high fighting spirit and morale to face the election, knowing very well it will be tough. But nothing is impossible. We have to try our level best.

You cannot just give up because it is tough, therefore, we don’t give a good fight. We are not giving up without a fight.

We still have to go out and convince the people why we are better.

MM: Do you think BN has done enough over the past five years to convince the people that you are the right choice?

TCY: In the last five years, the federal transformation programmes may have impacted certain segments of society.

At state-level, the effectiveness of BN as an opposition was not really felt.

We are giving a very fair assessment because the approach then was different compared to a year ago, before I took over. Therefore, in the last four years despite BN taking up some is issues and exposing the weaknesses of the PR government, it was only when I took over that we went on an aggressive approach rather than an underdog approach. That is the difference.

MM: Looking back at pre-2008 mistakes, what are the steps taken to rectify them?

TCY: One of the major breakthroughs in Penang BN is the understanding and cooperation we have nurtured with all component parties. Unprecedented, it is one of the most united fronts we are putting up as BN.

Previously, we had no idea what the other parties were doing before election. Now our efforts are coordinated and everyone has been given the same direction to work on.

Thus, I think one of the weaknesses we overcame was this cooperation among component parties.

Secondly, it is the publicity approach undertaken with all component parties. It is headed by (Penang MCA Wanita chief) Tan Cheng Liang, but she has the support of all component parties and machinery. We also got all cyber troopers or bloggers from MCA, Gerakan, MIC and Umno to sit down together and understand how different groups view things from their angle. For instance, the Chinese, the Indian and Malays view things differently. And how all these differences can be reconciled and jived into something everyone can accept, rather than quarrel among ourselves in cyber space.

MM: However, we hear of some dissent among top BN leadership in the state who shun events where certain leaders are present, such as the absence of State Umno chief Datuk Zainal Abidin Osman at press conferences.

TCY: State Umno Youth chief Shaik Hussein Mydin is not part of the state BN committee and Datuk Zainal is often in Kuala Lumpur as he is an advisor to the Rural And Regional Development Ministry.

He will attend meetings once or twice a month, but State Umno liaison deputy chairman and secretary Datuk Musa Sheikh Fadzir and Datuk Azahar Ibrahim attend the weekly BN meetings.

I only call for press conferences when necessary, but if he can’t make it, there is nothing I can do.

MM: How long before Umno accepted you as the BN chief?

TCY: I am a straightforward guy who speaks his mind. Some people don't like that approach but I cannot help it as it is inborn. It took them a while before they accepted me and started understanding each other.

MM: What is Penang BN's formula to win?

TCY: Ours is 4-3-2-1.

Four seats from Gerakan, three extra seats from Umno, two from MCA, and one from MIC. This would be on top of the 11 Umno seats won in 2008.

MM: What are the issues that would be campaigned?

TCY: On the promotional part, we would be talking about the new engine of growth the state needs to push the economy away from relying solely on the manufacturing sector. Manufacturing has undergone many changes in the global area.

Europe is also falling apart and that will affect Malaysia badly as Europe is one of our major trading partners and investors.

If we continue to depend on manufacturing as a prime mover, we have a problem coming up.

For instance, when InvestPenang said there is a global slowdown in hard disk drive and the photonics industry, what has been the state's policy to cushion this and help transform our supporting industries that are very reliant on photonics and hard disk drive and electronic peripheral equipment to match the market's changing demand?

If we don’t have one, you are going to have a problem in future.

This industry will be obsolete and you will be kicked out. Then you will have problems as there will be a surge in unemployment. Our industries are not prepared to undergo this transformation.

The state knows the global changes are coming and yet there is no comprehensive policy to face it. I am still waiting for their industrial plan.

(The state government's) Penang Paradigm does not address this as well. My group of economists have gone through it and this problem has not been addressed. We have a plan.

We will unveil it together with the manifesto. We will unveil the Penang Framework which is so thick. We will not keep it a secret. We will show how to create a new engine of growth, which is the services sector.

We have fallen far behind as a major tourist destination. We can't compete with (Thailand's) Phuket or Koh Samui. We are not competing with Singapore.

We need to do something to revive Penang as a major location in the IMTGT (Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand-Growth Triangle).

Penang is the only place with an international airport and port. Not Medan or Phuket. We have a vibrant seaport. These are your capacities and where are you positioning them in your IMTGT? We are not taking advantage of that.

That was promoted during former chief minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon's time, so it becomes a centre for distribution for all these major areas in northern Sumatra and Thailand. You make Penang the hub for them but you don’t do that.

As for the free port status, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had already given us the indication that it would be reinstated subject to the wishes of the people.

In terms of traffic management, we are talking about an efficient public transportation system, such as MRT (Mass Rapid Transit), and reducing the development gap between Seberang Perai and Penang island.

MM: You say traffic congestion is a huge problem on Penang island, don't you think the three road projects proposed by PR government are a good idea?

TCY: No, I don't, because I don't see where the traffic dispersal system is going to be. If you look at the jams, where are they? Where are the bottlenecks? They are in Green Lane, Jalan Kelawei, Tanjung Bungah and Tanjung Tokong, and Jalan Burmah, but there is no traffic dispersal system apart from the connectivity straight to the tunnel and to Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu expressway.

Is there going to be a traffic dispersal system to clear the bottleneck in those areas? There aren't any and I don't think the proposed plan addresses these bottlenecks.

I am not an expert but there have been studies conducted for the Penang Outer Ring Road (PORR) and traffic dispersal systems were included but I don't see it in these (RM6.3 billion road) projects.

However, we will still need the monorail to encourage people to use public transportation, but there has to be an internal road dispersal system. For that, you must look thoroughly at the traffic volume before you come up with a proposal.

The PM had identified three proposals to reduce jams in Penang. They are building new roads, traffic dispersal systems and enhancing public transportation. We have a previous proposal but whether it is applicable now, it would have to relooked.

Now, the state is proposing to bring more traffic to the island via the tunnel before looking at the volume entering through the second Penang Bridge. In fact, there is a traffic dispersal system in Batu Maung for vehicles coming through that bridge. This was during BN's tenure.

One cannot simply rely on one road, there must be another road to disperse traffic to avoid congestion. However, we also have experts studying the present government's road projects.

SOURCE: http://www.mmail.com.my/story/teng-barisan-united-wresting-penang-52106




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