Before I start this blog, I have to state clear that I am a MCA member and my loyalty to MCA is absolute and this blog should not be used to question my loyalty to MCA and its leaders.
Penang holds a special place in my heart although these days I would prefer to stay in Singapore or Melbourne. It is also the first place where I worked after returning from New Zealand, instead of Kuala Lumpur. I was in Penang recently during the Chinese New Year this year with my parents to visit friends and relatives. It is my 4th visit to Penang after Pakatan Rakyat (PR) or I should say DAP took over the state government and Lim Guan Eng becomes its chief minister.
Guan Eng knew to use his political skills to the best to win the hearts of the Penang people but he is also good at misleading them such as into thinking that the state had settled the loan on its own. The state was only able to record a positive budget because it shifted its RM630mil debt to the Federal Government. This was exposed by our Deputy Finance Minister, Datuk Donald Lim. But Lim also scored a political point by renaming Jelutong Expressway to Tun Lim Chong Eu Expressway in hope to win over Gerakan hard cores. I had known him and his father, Lim Kit Siang since my days in DAP.
Politics aside, I have to admit that I am impressed with the improvement of Penang with each time of my visit after the March 8 political tsunami. The streets are much cleaner now. Hawker centers run by Penang Municipal Council are much organized and clean. The roads are better paved. The landscaping is also so much better. The ferry terminals on both side of the Straits were so much cleaner now.The buses that double parked near the ferry terminal is now gone. The Bayan Lepas Free Trade Zone and Prai Industrial Park is much livelier now with factories humming compared to lots of empty factories before this.
The biggest change I see for myself is the cleanup of Gurney Drive where I used to stay. The terrible smell from the dirty mud created by a land reclamation project near Tanjung Tokong is now gone. Nine years ago, when I was staying there, every day I had to endure the terrible smell till until after a while I actually vomit every morning when I wake up to that kind of smell.
The next big change is the terrible smell of industrial waste being let down into the sea at the Penang Bridge toll plaza is gone now. Previously, the smell greeted visitors to Penang Island and said good bye to them if they travel via the bridge. They issues that my former comrades and I used to bring up against the BN government were actually picked up by the PR state government and they did something to improve the wrongs. All these are stark differences that the people can feel.
Where Koh Tsu Koon failed as the Chief Minister, Guan Eng succeeded. However, other PR states governments were all failures with Selangor leading the pack. Ask Tan Sri Khalid, what had he done to Selangor ?
However, there are more to be done such as making Jalan Kelawai and Gurney Drive one way street to ease the congestion that occur even on weekends. It will be much better if they state government can revive the tram system in Gorgetown to ease congestion as well. Trams used to be part of Penang before World War 2.
It was like walking down a memory lane for me after leaving Penang for good 8 years ago except that the path is so much better now. I hope that other states control by BN as well as the federal government will learn a lesson from Penang and improve their administration and also listen to the rakyat before being kicked out by the people like what happened to Koh Tsu Koon’s state government.