The proposed third link in Penang must have surprised many people, not only because it is a mega project of BN's proportions and that it is proposed by DAP Chief Minister, YAB Lim Guan Eng, who is known to have criticised BN for such projects before, but also because it is just months before the 13th general election.
Some people thought success must have gone into Lim Guan Eng's head, to have such grandiose ideas. Political opponents have been trying to find faults, like why decisions were allegedly made in Taiwan; that the winning companies were Rm2 companies; that there must have been bribes in the awarding process; and so on.
For those who know, they could empathise with LGE for having to contend with a federal government out to sabotage his state plans at every turn, so that the present leaders will be discredited and hopefully, they will lose the state in the coming GE. We do not need to have privileged information to assume that LGE would have done a much better job had he been given a freer hand in administration.
Before I read Penang chief minister's open letter to CAP , I was among those with little or no knowledge about the details of the proposed tunnel project. To most people, to have an under-seabed tunnel project (and especially one proposed by a DAP Chief Minister) is unthinkable, given the objections when Penang bridge was first mooted. If it is so simple, why didn't our Causeway between Johor Bahru and Singapore be replaced by a tunnel instead of a crooked bridge?
I am glad I read the full letter in Malaysiakini because I find it very informative for someone ignorant like myself, and the rationale and reasons for the proposed project, excellent in countering Consumers Association of Penang's criticisms.
At a glance, the following is what I have gleaned from the open letter:
Traffic decongestion projects of three highways and one under-seabed tunnel:
a 4.2km Pesiaran Gurney-Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway bypass;
a 4.6km Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway-Bandar Baru Air Itam bypass;
a four-lane 12km road linking Tanjung Bungah with Teluk Bahang; and
a 7km undersea tunnel from Gurney Drive to Bagan Ajam in Butterworth.
The 30 year toll concession period was given only for the tunnel and not for the other three highway projects which will be toll free.
... by not charging toll, ... the federal government will have legal grounds to stop the tunnel project by claiming that we are deliberately sabotaging the toll collection for the second bridge.
That is the reason why the state government has fixed the toll rate for the tunnel at the same rate as the second bridge.
The state government cannot build a bridge across the mainland because federal government approval is required.
However, no such approval is necessary for an under seabed tunnel.
... there is a question of equity as it is only fair that the residents of Seberang Perai Utara are not denied a third link, when residents in Seberang Perai Tengah and Seberang Perai Selatan were given the two bridges.
For the full open letter: