GEORGE TOWN (June 17, 2012): The DAP has launched a “Return the Port to Penang” campaign following confirmation that the Penang Port has been privatised by the Federal government.

State DAP chairman and executive councillor Chow Kon Yeow said the initiative was to rally the people to call on the cabinet to revoke the decision to privatise the port without an open tender.

The campaign also wanted the federal government to deepen the northern part of the Penang channel immediately as well as transfer ownership of the port to the state government.

“As far as Penang’s economic future is concerned, this is the most pressing and urgent issue,” he told a press conference.

The Transport Ministry had confirmed that Seaport Terminal (Johor) Sdn Bhd, owned by tycoon Tan Sri Syed MokhtarAl-Bukhary, had been allowed to take Penang Port Sdn Bhd (PPSB) private.

This was revealed in a written parliamentary reply to Bukit Mertajam MP Chong Eng who had asked for an update of the port’s privatisation.

The port is currently operated by Penang Port Sdn Bhd, which is under the Finance Ministry, with the Penang Port Commission, an agency under the Transport Ministry, acting as a regulatory body.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the federal decision had been made without any consultation with the state.

“The state administration had written to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak in December 2010 expressing its interest to take over the port but there was no reply,” he said.

Lim also urged the federal government to immediately carry out the RM351 million deepening works, already allocated under the 10th Malaysia Plan.

“The important dredging works should not be left to Seaport Terminal,” he added.

He also took to task PPC chairman Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek, who is also MCA president, over the move to take the port private.