GEORGE TOWN – Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Mansor’s wish to federalise Penang, among several other places in the country, has hit a nerve with allies from his own Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition.
In an unexpected scathing response, Penang BN chairman Teng Chang Yeow said the minister must have had a vision of pumping funds into the federal territories, but added that the latter can “dream on” about making the island state part of that expansion.
“I suggest that he turn the whole Malaysia into a federal territory so everyone in the whole country can get more funding,” Teng who is also Penang Gerakan chief told Malay Mail Online when contacted yesterday.
Teng was not alone among BN leaders to pour cold water on Tengku Adnan’s desire.
Penang MCA chief Tan Teik Cheng said the minister “wasn’t very smart” to openly express his wish as it will only antagonise Penangites.
“No Penangite will accept this. Even Penang MCA is against this suggestion,” he said in a phone interview yesterday.
Tan added that Penang must remain as a state and not become a federal territory.
“There is no point to make it a federal territory when the people are against it,” he said.
Penang Umno kept a neutral stand when contacted. Its leader Datuk Jahara Hamid reiterated that the state chapter of the BN Malay nationalist party will take Tengku Adnan’s wish to federalise Penang directly with him and declined further comment for the time being.
“We will meet with him to discuss his suggestion first to understand it. I’ve nothing further to add,” the state Opposition leader told Malay Mail Online.
Tengku Adnan first voiced his wish to expand the existing federal territories of Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya to include Penang, Langkawi in Kedah and unnamed parts of Malacca in a radio interview with BFM on February 1, marking Federal Territories Day.
He later added Pulau Tioman in Pahang to the list.
Met with stinging criticism from Pakatan Harapan federal Opposition leaders, the Putrajaya MP then said his wish was born from concern over a purported “neglect” of Malays in the state, which he later expanded to include the welfare of other races and cited a lack of affordable housing in Penang to support his view.
However, Penang government leaders have since punched holes in his argument.
State housing, town and country planning chairman Jagdeep Singh Deo said in a statement last night that the Pakatan Harapan Penang government has built 20,887 or four times as many affordable housing units as the BN administration did in the last eight years since taking control of the state.
Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng has also openly rejected any plan to federalise Penang, saying the idea is unconstitutional.
However, Lim said the idea will be discussed in the state legislative assembly even as he urged residents in the state to join his “I Love Penang” campaign to rebuff Tengku Adnan’s wish.
– Malay Mail