Illusion of protecting public interest

16 Apr 2019 / 20:00 H.

    ELEVEN years ago, Lim Guan Eng, the then chief minister of Penang, called upon the federal government to adopt the Competency, Accountability and Transparency (CAT) system as the moral standard of administration to protect public interest and prevent wastage.

    Excellent on paper, but does not mean anything as regards the RM8 billion “master plan” to encourage more private car ownership in Penang to make Penang “cleaner, greener, safer and healthier”.

    Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow in announcing that PIL1’s EIA had conditional approval from the Department of Environment with 56 conditions did not consider it necessary to disclose what the conditions were saying that most of them were technical.

    This is an insult as he is saying that there is no one in Penang who will be able to read or understand the 56 conditions and so what is the point of making them public.

    CAT was created to protect public interest and prevent wastage by weeding out the incompetent and corrupt.

    Where is the democratic spirit in keeping the 56 conditions secret from the people?

    It is akin to telling Penangites that the government is giving them a new “bride” with 56 conditions attached but they cannot be given any information about those conditions and they can only see the bride and discover those conditions after the marriage is over.

    When CAT was delivered, it was never stated that there will be things that will be kept secret.

    The Penang government has lost the democratic spirit and become autocratic. It seems to have a deadline to keep with the construction companies and push the project though and leave it to future generations to face any consequences that could have been prevented by not rushing the project.

    It can still redeem itself by making the 56 conditions available to the public and welcoming any negative feedback from experts other than those of the developers’ who have a vested interest in pushing the project through.

    Prevention is better than cure; but the state government is oblivious to this and behaves like there are no people outside the government or the circle of builders and developers who have any knowledge about such plans and projects. It seems to proudly believe that “might is right”, might being derived from the election results.

    Pride goes before a fall.

    Ravinder Singh



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