GEORGE TOWN – Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Mansor will have his hands full if he ever hopes to realise his wish of turning Penang into one of the federal territories.
While politicians from Pakatan Harapan and some of the Federal Territories minister’s own Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition rage over his idea, Malay Mail Online asked Penangites for their take on the controversy.
We also asked them to weigh in on Bukit Mertajam MP Steven Sim’s push for Putrajaya to restore local government elections, in retort to the minister’s wish.
Some of what we found was surprising.
Federalising Penang? What’s that?
In a straw poll of 10 Penangites, eight admitted that they did not understand what it meant if Penang were to become a federal territory.
But that was not the biggest shocker. Half of those polled came back with a question of their own: “Who’s Tengku Adnan?”
After some explanation on the minister and his wish for Penang, Langkawi, parts of Malacca and Pulau Tioman to join the federal territories of Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya, nine out of the 10 said they rejected the idea.
“I don’t agree to this at all. Look at how they are managing Labuan. I don’t see any development there at all,” said Sulaiman Abu Bakar.
The 28-year-old said Penang is doing well now as a state run by its own chief minister and assemblymen to take care of the needs of its people.
The accounts clerk agreed with Tengku Adnan that housing prices in Penang are high, but disagreed with the minister’s assertion that the state government had neglected the people’s welfare.
“Yes, it’s true that the housing prices here are expensive, but if he wants to say that the Malays here were neglected, then look at previously, it was the same. The Malays were neglected by the Malays themselves. Look at those wealthy Malays in their huge mansions,” Sulaiman said.
He added that the current Pakatan Harapan state government has set up programmes to care for the people and cited as an example the financial assistance provided to senior citizens.
“Everyone gets the state’s welfare aid they give out each year, regardless of race or religion,” he said.
Yesterday, state newswire Bernama reported Tengku Adnan as clarifying that he had not only singled out the Malays as being neglected by the state government, but that “all races” were affected.
The sole person who did not write off the minister’s desire to federalise Penang said he was not against the idea, but was also not supportive of it.
“This may mean more funding as the federal government has more money. But it also depends if they can manage Penang properly,” said a technician who wanted to be known only as Haniff.
The 40-year-old candidly said he needed to read up more on what has happened in areas that had been carved out as federal territories before commenting further if Penang would be better managed under Putrajaya’s direct control.
Like Sulaiman though, he disagreed that Malays were neglected in Penang.
Penang homes are pricey
When asked about Tengku Adnan’s assertion that the housing prices in Penang were beyond the reach of most people, all 10 agreed.
“It is true that the housing prices are too high in Penang. But I still don’t agree that we should become a federal territory. We must remain as a state,” said marketing executive CL Tan, 30.
Restore local elections
When asked to comment on Sim’s call to return the third vote to elect local council members, half of those in the straw poll said it would be good for democracy.
The other half expressed scepticism as they believed the majority of those elected will be members of the state ruling Pakatan Harapan pact.
As Sulaiman put it: “They will win the elections anyway. It won’t make any difference.”
– Malay Mail