GEORGE TOWN: The Consumer Association of Penang (CAP) today rejected Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s allegation that it was making a false accusation when it said his administration had bypassed public consultation in planning several mega infrastructure projects.
“Our claims are true indeed,” CAP president SM Mohamed Idris told reporters in response to Lim’s statement of denial last Wednesday, which included an attack on the activist’s character.Lim denied that the state government had not consulted stakeholders with regard to road projects estimated to cost between RM5 billion and RM8 billion. This included a 6.5-km undersea tunnel connecting Gurney Drive and Bagan Ajam.
“This is not first time Idris has made a mistake,” Lim said.( GUAN ENG DOK BANTAI PAK DERIS)“Previously, he accused the state government of building a theme park on gazzeted forest land in Teluk Bahang, an untrue claim for which he apologised.“I never revealed his repeated apologies because he is an old man and a respected figure; so we let the matter rest. Now he is making another mistake.”
Idris said he did not apologise for criticising the decision to build the park, but only for referring to the project as a “rape” of the forest.He said he had a private meeting with Lim, during which the chief minister expressed dismay over his choice of words.“I told him that I would apologise if the word upset him,” he said. “But the apology was not for our statement on the theme park.”
He urged the state to set standard guidelines for public consultation on mega projects, saying it would prove that Lim’s administration was sincere in promoting its CAT (competency, accountability and transparency) principle.He pointed out that the British government and state governments in Australia had implemented such guidelines.
Idris said Lim and his special officer Zairil Khir Johari failed to understand that mere briefing to NGOs and statements in the press and legislative assembly did not constitute public consultation.He explained that such consultation would involve engaging the public at the earliest stage of the decision-making process, providing adequate information about the projects and giving due consideration to the representations and views made by individuals and civil society organisations.“The state government did not adopt the process on the mega projects,” he said.