Public’s Input and Feedback are Essential


I rang to wish a friend in Penang “Happy New Year” and got an earful about how ridiculous it was to have to spend as much again as the bus fare from Penang to Ipoh just to get into Ipoh city centre from the sparkling new bus terminal.

He is not the only one. Complaints have come from all quarters about the new Amanjaya Bus Terminal. Because it is sited where it is, bus users, who are not rich – that’s why they use the bus – have to pay extra to get to or from the new terminal.

I remember writing to the Ipoh Echo about the problems the bus station will cause travellers when Ngar Koh Ming proudly announced that the PR government had made a deal with some businessmen to build the station. I criticised Ngar for putting a completed deal to the public instead of getting public feedback before proceeding.

As a sop to the public he announced a competition for naming the bus hub. This is of no comfort to the travelling public who have to be out of pocket because of the PR Government’s error. Those who have to use the hub will remember this every time they use it.

The bus terminal fiasco could have been avoided if the PR government had been prepared to get public feedback instead of adopting an arrogant “we know best” attitude.

Meanwhile not to be outdone, the BN Government, which came to power on February 6, 2009, decided to expand the runway of the Ipoh airport. The idea was good as this would enable bigger planes to land, which would put a little life into the moribund airport.

Taking advantage of this, a new company “Flying Fox Airways” was set up to provide a direct link between Medan and Ipoh. Everything seemed to be going well, I was told that 80% of the tickets for the first six months of the operation had been sold. The Ipoh Echo even did a write-up on Medan to help create some interest.

A week before the inaugural flight the public was informed that all flights were cancelled until further notice. Now why would Flying Fox cancel its flights if they have been 80% booked up for the first six months, unless Flying Fox was telling tall tales and the response from the public was not enough. Apparently, the cancellation was due to “technical reasons” which had nothing to do with the airline.

I wonder if the “technical reasons” have to do with the runway which had only been upgraded recently. If this were the case, then there are questions the BN government has to answer:

Has the company (which got the job) any track record in runway construction? Or is its experience limited to construction?

Was it an open tender?

Was there any inspection by a competent authority after the extension was done and before the handover, and has the company been paid?

Who takes responsibility for this foul up and who will rectify it? When will it be rectified so that the airport can be used for big aircraft as was intended?

Who pays for the rectification – not the poor rakyat, I hope.

Of the two, the bus terminal is a more serious matter, as it is going to affect travellers for as long as they travel by interstate bus. The public is paying for the previous state government’s blunder. In this competition of incompetency, it is the rakyat who suffers.

Governments should learn that the days of “we know best” are over. They must allow public input (especially in matters like the bus hub) and trust the public to be objective. The majority of the rakyat are not party political, they do not owe any allegiance to one party or another. All they want is a transparent, honest and competent government.

Yin Ee Kiong

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