Ahmad Ibnihajar’s assertions – Time for Chua Soi Lek and Federal Government to answer

Media conference statement by Penang DAP Chairman, Chow Kon Yeow, and DAP MP for Bukit Bendera, Liew Chin Tong on 23rd June 2012:

Penang Port Sdn Bhd (PPSB) managing director Datuk Ahmad Ibnihajar told a press conference yesterday that PPSB made a net profit of RM15 million last year, which contradicts Penang Port Commission Chairman Datuk Seri Chua Soi Lek’s assertion that the company was in the red.

Ahmad Ibnihajar also pointed out that most of Penang Port’s RM 1-billion expansion plan was completed in 2011 including the purchase of seven units of super Panamax cranes costing RM200 million.

However, the plan to deepen the north channel to 14.5 metres ACD (approach channel depth) from the current 11.5 meters is not being carried out by the Federal Government.

According to Ahmad, “The deepening works will enable PPSB to attract more mainliners and larger vessels from the Middle East, China and India.” The dredging of the port was promised in the 9th and the 10th Malaysia Plans. Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin reiterated the promise on 1st April 2010 in Penang that the dredging would be carried out in the 10th Malaysia Plan period to coincide with the RM1-billion expansion of the Penang Port.

The seven units of super Panamax cranes which cost RM200 million were not able to be put to use, according to Ahmad Ibnihajar, because the port was not dredged and hence resulting mainliners and large vessels not being able to call on the port.

It is time for Chua Soi Lek to explain to the Malaysian public on Ahmad Ibnihajar’s assertions.

It is understood that Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar-owned Seaport Terminal (Johore) Sdn. Bhd. may do the following measures which are not only detrimental to Penang’s interests but causes economic woes for the state.

Seaport Terminal may request for the final price of the Penang Port to be reduced from RM450 million to RM150 million, in exchange for the Government NOT to dredge the Penang Port Channel that would cost RM350 million.

As Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar also owns PTP and Johor Port, there is a plan to rationalise the two ports, which means closure of container port of Johor Port. Seaport Terminal may bring the seven units of Super Port Panamax cranes from Penang to PTP and may bring the six quay cranes in Johor Port to place it in Penang. Essentially, Seaport Terminal may potentially engage in asset stripping.

And since the smaller cranes are unable to handle the 4000 TEUs and above vessel, hence Seaport Terminal may NOT dredge the Penang port eventually.

Chua must explain why he objected to the dredging port of the Penang Port at the National Economic Council meeting in August 2011.

And whether Chua’s intervention on behalf of Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar al-Bukhary has ruined Penang Port’s viability and ruined Penang Port’s expansion plan.

Chow Kon Yeow and Liew Chin Tong

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