Penang Gerakan Secretary Oh Tong Keong:
Taiwan ruling party Kuomintang won 8 years ago with overwhelming support but faced a sharp-reversal defeat in the recent Taiwan general election. This tells us what it means by “double-edge sword”.
Looking back at our country, DAP took over Penang with a sweeping win in year 2008. 8 years have passed, was there any positive change for the people of Penang? Are the people having a better life? The answer is: there is not significant improvement in our lives.
But the people are shown that the state government is becoming more arrogant and less humane.
Let us look at the Chew Jetty incident that may seem to have a peaceful ending but the process was filled with exchange of words between the public and state government officials who called the people “boss”. However, it is a different matter at all after the general election was over.
During the previous state administration under the Barisan Nasional, the state government was open-minded towards the civil society by allowing them to have free hand as long as it is within the legal framework.
For example, the Jade Emperor Prayer ceremony (Pai Thni Kong) at Chew Jetty was given maximum autonomy despite that the land belongs to the state government. Also, you never hear comments like “this is not your father’s land”.
I still remember that the Jade Emperor Prayer ceremony became more successful with no political interference from the previous state government for so many years. It was so successful until it attracted attention from international media which gave the event a thorough coverage and brought the name “Penang” to a greater height. The then state government did not utter words such as “this is not your father’s land”, or “I “lut” you!”.
I think a good state government will not interfere much and allow free hand for the civil society. Micro-manage like a father will only weaken the people’s creativity.
Penang state government should open their ears for public opinion. Do not go against the civil society while acting like listening to them.
For example, in the case of sea reclamation for Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP), the affected fishermen are not against PTMP but asked the state government to relocate the sea reclamation project so as to protect the fishermen’s interests. If there is no fish, there will be no fisherman. State government must not ignore their voice.
I believe that most people will not object the implementation of PTMP but the way to raise fund for it. Is there no other way to raise funds for this project?
There was a public proposal to develop state land in Seberang Prai to raise funds for PTMP. Such proposal will allow balance development of Penang island and mainland while avoiding sea reclamation which will have devastated the environment and undermine the fishermen’s interests and welfare.
What the people need is a state government that listens to the people, not to go against them. If DAP continues to ignore the people’s wishes, DAP’s future will be similar to today’s Kuomintang in Taiwan. Penangites will use their votes to say: We do not want a state government that is against the people!