Originally posted on 17/12/2016
GEORGE TOWN: A transport studies scholar has urged the Penang government to make all documents pertaining to the Penang Transport Master Plan, available online to promote better transparency of the state’s biggest infrastructure plan to date.
Roger Teoh, who is against several aspects of the master plan, said Penang should take a leaf from the best practices of other governments when such public projects were proposed.
He cited the case in London where an additional airport runway was to be built either at Heathrow or Gatwick airport.
“In order to resolve this tight debate and select the preferred airport, the full feasibility report was conducted by an independent commissioner.
“The report was then uploaded on public domain for scrutiny and transparency purposes in decision-making,” he said.
At present, documents pertaining to the PTMP are available to the bipartisan 46-member Penang Transport Council (PTC) that oversees its implementation.
However, members can only peruse 20 volumes of the documents at a special facility. There is also a time limit and only handwritten notes can be taken. No phones or cameras are allowed.
Teoh said he quit as a Bagan DAP member after the Penang government ignored his requests for better transparency regarding the PTMP. He also questioned the decision-making criteria used and pointed out flaws in the plan.
Teoh, who has studied traffic from 100 cities, has sent letters to the media on the PTMP, to the chagrin of DAP leaders.
Today, two Penang DAP leaders called him politically naive and said his academic approach to resolve Penang’s traffic congestion was not the way to tackle the issue.
In response to this, Teoh said his arguments on the PTMP were based on facts and figures but all that he received in return were politically-charged attacks.
He said that when he asked for statistics to prove that roads were a worthy option in the long run, he was criticised instead.
“It is unfortunate that my former comrades have resorted to personal attacks, diverting from the transparency issues I have highlighted,” Teoh said.
He said the continued attacks on him proved the Penang government was not listening to the voices of academia and civil groups.
“We have the opposition complaining about the Malaysian Parliament being a rubber stamp institution.
“How different is the Penang government then, when NGO members in the PTC are not given satisfactory answers to the concerns they have raised?
“A clear example — would (city councillor) Dr Lim Mah Hui resort to sending a letter directly to Unesco if his concerns were adequately addressed internally in the PTC?” Teoh said.
The PTC, a Penang government body, oversees the implementation of the PTMP.
Teoh is on a scholarship funded by the Imperial College in London, and is completing his PhD in Transport Studies there.