To counter fierce criticism of its housing policy, Penang Pakatan Rakyat today released a 12-point manifesto for the state, listing the building of 22,000 quality, affordable housing units in all the five districts of the state among its promises. Pakatan will also ensure that all districts have houses for the poor to rent and will establish a State Housing Board to ensure more effective management of housing.
It also plans to get control over Penang Port and the island-mainland ferry service returned to the state government, as a counter to the BN pledge to return the free port status to Penang.
Communities to benefit from the manifesto will include women, youth, fisherfolk and taxi drivers, who would be given an annual incentive of RM600, the manifesto states. There also are plans to start zones for aquaculture in Seberang Perai Utara and Seberang Perai Selatan, abolish boat and fishing licences and to annually provide fishing nets free to inshore fishermen.
Undersea tunnel to go ahead
Putting aside severe criticisms from NGOs, Pakatan insists in its manifesto that it will carry out the RM6.3 billion traffic dispersal project by way of three highways and an undersea tunnel linking Gurney Drive on the island with Bagan Ajam in Butterworth.
To prove that it is not anti-Islam or was marginalising the Malays, as touted by Umno, the DAP-led government promises to emphasise the elevation of Islam and welfare state status.
It promises to appeal to the federal government to establish Malay heritage zones in the state, such as in Tanjung Tokong and Batu Uban. An Islamic hospital based on the wakaf concept, land for the building of surau and setting up Islamic cemeteries, land worth RM50 million for a syariah complex in George Town and RM10 million for the Seberang Perai Tengah syariah court complex are other pledges in this area.
Additional land for non-Muslim places of worship in new areas, according to needs, and assistance for the Hindu Endowment Board are among pledges for minority communities.
CAT policy to continue
To continue with its competency, accountability and transparency (CAT) policy, Pakatan says it will comprehensively implement the Freedom of Information Enactment and ban family members of elected representatives from doing business with the government.
The manifesto also outlines Pakatan’s plan to empower small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the state by building a RM40 million centre and a RM15 SME village.
Other highlights in the manifesto:
- Emphasis on arts, culture and heritage and ensuring that Penang becomes cleaner, greener, healthier and safer;
- Further developing the tourism sector, expanding on science and technology and improving infrastructure;
- Setting up a global halal centre and a regional hub for the marketing and manufacturing supply chain in the Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle;
- Creating a high technology green industrial park in Batu Kawan and expanding the micro-credit financial assistance scheme with an additional RM5 million;
- Expanding the medical tourism sector and developing Balik Pulau and Batu Kawan as eco-heritage resorts;
- Establishing five centres for creative learning programmes for remedial teaching in the fields of reading, writing, mathematics, science, Malay and English;
- Developing a gender responsive policy to elevate the status of women and to eradicate discrimination against women;
- Providing free mammograms as well as child care centres in every district;
- Empowering the Hindu Endowment Board;
- Increasing CCTV cameras and street lamps to maintain Penang as the safest state in Malaysia;
- Retaining Balik Pulau as a green corridor;
- Making Penang a bicycle state by providing 200km of bicycle lanes throughout the state; and
- Returning the power to determine freehold land status to the state government.
The manifesto was read out by DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng in the presence of 1,000 people.
Accompanying him was state DAP chief Chow Kon Yeow, the party’s deputy P Ramasamy, senior leader Lim Kit Siang, state PKR chief Mansor Othman and election director Mustafa Kamal Mohd Yusoff.
During his speech, Kit Siang praised the manifesto, saying that it was a “success story” of the Pakatan government.
“Here’s a success story compared the failure story of (caretaker) Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s transformation for the past four years,” he said.
“That is why he was afraid of calling the general election and has delayed it. Malaysians have been on campaign mode for the last four years,” he added.
“If he is afraid, how can he be PM? That is why Malaysians need Ubah (change).