The second term of the Perak State Legislative Assembly began and ended with heated debates involving lawmakers from both sides of the political divide.
A week before the proceedings began, Speaker Dato’ Ngeh Koo Ham warned that executive councillors would be given only eight minutes to answer questions posed to them. He wanted more questions from the floor.
“They’re to use the allocated time wisely,” he told reporters during a media conference at the State Secretariat Building on Monday, April 8.
The assembly session started on April 16 with HRH Sultan Nazrin Shah gracing the opening. In his royal address, he cited the shooting of Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand as a lesson to Malaysians that instilling hatred and hostility, in the name of race and religion, was dangerous.
Praising the New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern’s prompt reaction to the incident, the Sultan said, “Jacinda Adern is an exemplary leader,” he added.
Among several issues raised was the problematic Movie Animation Park Studios (MAPS).
According to Perak Corporation Bhd (PCB) audit committee chairman and Keranji assemblyman Chong Zhemin, the theme park operational cost is about RM3.3 million monthly.
“We can still pay our monthly operational cost but on September each year, we must pay RM30 million as principal payment,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the assembly.
Chong had initially revealed that a motion to suggest the state government help relieve MAPS financial problem would be tabled on the last day of the assembly. However, on April 22, Chong announced that there was no necessity to table the motion as Menteri Besar Dato’ Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu had given his assurance that the state government would honour the payment.
In the midst of the assembly, an audio clip lasting more than four minutes of a man was heard complaining about Ahmad Faizal’s performance in administering the state went viral on social media.
Following the video, all ten executive councillors and Pakatan Harapan assemblymen held a press conference on April 23 to show their support for Ahmad Faizal as the Menteri Besar despite an audio clip denouncing his leadership.
State Exco members and Manjoi assemblymen Asmuni Awi said the viral video was a “divide and rule” propaganda.
“We want to declare our undivided support for Ahmad Faizal as the head of Pakatan Harapan Perak and as the Menteri Besar leading the state government,” he added.
Despite the chaos in the august house, PH lawmakers announced several upgrades in facilities for locals and tourists in Perak.
Kuala Sepetang Matang Mangrove Eco-Learning Centre will be covered with 1.2 km of pathways costing RM1.9mil.
State Tourism, Arts and culture executive councillor Tan Kar Hing said the allocation was from the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry and the construction is upcoming.
“Besides boardwalks, the hall and jetty in Kampung Dew; famous for its fireflies has been upgraded at a cost of RM350, 000.
“We’ve added water tanks and improved the landscape at Bukit Larut for those who wish to spend a night or two on the hill station,” he said on April 23.
Tan also said the fossil found in Gua Naga Mas in Gopeng was some 320,200 years old and not 15, 000 years, as previously claimed.
“The finding was taken from the latest fossil date study at the Earth Observatory of Singapore in Nanyang Technological University. We’ve set up a technical advisory committee, headed by Universiti Malaya geologist Dr Ros Fatihah Muhammad to study the cave.
“The report on the cave is expected to be tabled at the Conference of Global Man and Karst in Sicily, Italy in June. The fossil is very valuable. As such, more researches are needed,” he said adding that the fossil site had been upgraded with the installation of tempered glass and grilled gates.
Last year in October, a 98 cm-long fossil was exposed on the cave ceiling, resulting in the closure of the cave from the public for three months.
“For purpose of tourism and education, we’re considering to draw up local guides and interpretation at the site. Meetings with schools will also be held so that programmes to bring students to the site can be organised,” he added.
Menteri Besar Ahmad Faizal announced that the state was in the midst of a discussion with the Finance Ministry on the list of tax-free items to be sold on Pangkor Island, which will be a duty-free island soon.
“Despite the declaration of the island as duty-free, Pangkor must continue to be a family-friendly tourist destination,” he added.
During his opening speech on the first day of the assembly, Sultan Nazrin announced that Pangkor Island would get its duty-free status on January 1 next year.
On a different matter, the state government through its Industry, Investment and Corridor Development Committee chairman, Dato’ Seri Ir Mohamad Nizar said they were still considering whether to build a natural gas plant at Tanjung Hantu near Teluk Senangin in Manjung.
“We’re considering several issues such as the site being a turtle landing area and a tourism spot. Developers too are eyeing the area due to infrastructure and facilities available there,” he told reporters on April 24.
Earlier in April, Ahmad Faizal denied claims that the state had approved the project which raised the ire of environmentalist groups.