Decentralisation of transport governance must be part of the election debate

Press conference statement by Chow Kon Yeow, Liew Chin Tong and Jeff Ooi on 22nd May 2012 in Komtar, George Town, Penang :

Malaysia is arguably one of the most centralised nations in the world despite having a federal structure. It has come to a stage in which a change of federal government is required to solve transport woes in Penang.

It sounds ridiculous to the outside world that a central government would decide on the bus routes of a remote town as well as managing garbage collection but it is a reality that Malaysians are grappling with daily.

The other ridiculous example is that Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), a Penang-based university funded by the Federal Government, is running a budget of RM 1.2 billion whereas the State Government of Penang runs a budget of RM 740 million. Total federal budget is RM232 billion.

The Federal Government pays RM 2 billion annual rental to Putrajaya Holding, a company which shares are mostly owned by Petronas, for the usage of office and residential spaces in Putrajaya.

The Federal Government collects at least RM 3 billion direct income taxes from Penang and RM 16 billion from Selangor but allocates to the respective State Governments averagely RM 100 million and RM 400 million.

This is no longer tenable.

The Federal Government’s own New Economic Model, which is now defunct, suggests that we must “empower state and local authorities to develop and support growth initiatives, and encourage competition between localities (Pg 101)” and rightly pointed out that “National governance worldwide is becoming less top-down and more decentralised as the complexities of business and society exceed the capability and effectiveness of traditional top-down management (Pg 131)”.

As far as the governance of transportation, short-term rearrangements and long-term reorganisations of governing structure is required.  Penang State Government commissions a Transport Master Plan study and to look into the overarching transport planning for Penang. The consultant proposed both long term and short term strategies. Some proposals require the cooperation and commitment from the Federal Government as follows:

Mode of transportShort-term rearrangement
Long-term reorganisation after the change of Federal Government

Port, ferry


The Penang State Government has offered to buy the Penang Port as well as the ferry services.


Penang Port and ferry services shall be managed by the Penang State Government.


Buses/public transport


1. Federal Government should honour its words to deliver 200 new buses to Rapid Penang as promised in the 10th Malaysia Plan in June 2010.

2. Rapid Penang should accept directors nominated by the Penang State Government like it was when Barisan Nasional was running the State.

3. The Penang State Government has requested for a total of 800 buses to be provided to Rapid Penang instead of the currently 350 buses.

4. The Federal Government must explain the status of the previously promised Monorail.

5. State Government has implemented first Park and Ride Scheme in Malaysia. Federal Government can provide incentives to State that implement such schemes.


1. The regulatory power of buses and other  mode of public transport should be devolved to the Penang State Government.

2. All bus routes planning should be under the State and Local authority.




1. SPAD (Suruhanjaya Pengangkutan Awam) needs implement taxi metre system in Penang.

2. A natural gas station should be built as soon as possible on the Island.


Licensing and fare structure should be governed by the Penang State Government and not by remote control from Kuala Lumpur/Putrajaya.




1. Shares of the Penang Bridge originally owned by the Penang State Government shall be returned to the State.

2. Toll rates collected from the Penang Bridge must not be used to subsidise other privatised road projects.

3. Penang Bridge Authority should consider to add Bus lanes in the first bridge after the completion of 2nd Bridge.


1. The regulation, management and governance of the two Penang Bridges shall be vested in the Penang State Government.




1. All pending road works by the Federal Government should  be completed without delay, especially the long overdue Teluk Kumbar-Genting upgrade and the Second Bridge Dispersal roads of P27 Batu Maung to Penang Bridge and FT 3113 connecting Tun Lim Chong Eu Expressway.

2. The Sungai Nyoir toll shall be abolished with immediate effect by the Federal Government.

3. The Federal Government must state the status of the previously promised Penang Outer Ring Roads.


All roads in Penang should be entirely manage by the Penang State Government with adequate funding from the federal coffer and the right to borrow to finance infrastructure projects.

Malaysia needs a complete overhaul of its governing structure. This is our modest attempt to define a different future for transportation in Penang.

We urge Barisan Nasional Federal Government and its Penang representatives to address the short-term rearrangements required to solve transport woes in Penang, especially to honour BN’s various promises made previously.

The Pakatan Rakyat will take care of the long-term reorganisations once we are given the mandate to run the Federal Government.

Chow Kon Yeow – MP for Tanjong, State Exco for Local Government and Traffic
Liew Chin Tong – MP for Bukit Bendera
Jeff Ooi – MP for Jelutong

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