GEORGE TOWN (Nov 7): The government will proceed with the Penang International Airport (LTAPP) expansion project after the land acquisition process and funding are approved, said Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong.
He said the government had never cancelled the project but held discussions with the State government to resolve the land issue instead.
“I had a discussion with the Penang Chief Minister in Aug 2020 but we faced some problems that needed to be sorted out…many things related to the land need to be done.
“Once the land matters are settled and MAHB ready to pump in the funds, we can kick off the project,” he told reporters after visiting a sewing workshop organised by the state Community Development Department (Kemas) here on Monday.
Wee was asked about the statement of Penang Infrastructure and Transport Committee chairman, Zairil Khir Johari saying the Federal government under Barisan Nasional (BN) and Perikatan Nasional (PN) would continue to sideline the State.
Elaborating, Wee said eight days after he was appointed as Transport Minister, the country was forced to impose the Movement Control Order to curb the Covid-19 pandemic which caused MAHB to lose income.
He said that the expansion allocation for LTAPP was approved during the BN government in Budget 2018 but Lim Guan Eng refused to use that allocation when he was appointed Finance Minister as he wanted to use the PFI (private financial initiative).
“How could you blame me when I became the Minister of Transport because at that time MAHB had no income due to the MCO as we could not collect the Passenger Service Charge forcing us to postpone (the project). MAHB’s financial capacity did not allow it,” he said.
In addition, the MCA president said that it was during the Pakatan Harapan rule that many national projects were cancelled such as the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail and East Coast Rail Line projects.
“We take responsibility, we did not recklessly attack them, but don’t blame us for their negligence,” he added.