Penang Undersea Tunnel project was first announced before PRU-13 in 2013. Upon its expected completion date in 2025 (initially 2021), it will be the third link to connect the Penang island to its mainland. It will also be the first undersea tunnel in Malaysia.
However, the project developer Consortium Zenith announced that the project construction will be delayed due to the unfinished feasibility study in 2016. Today, the feasibility study has yet to be completed. Thus, the construction remains on halt.
Actually, the idea of the undersea tunnel was not well received since it was first revealed to the public. Malaysia Nature Society (MNS) Penang branch adviser D. Kanda Kumar criticised the project. He commented that a third link connecting the island to the mainland is unnecessary and potentially damage the environment. It contradicts with the idea of the green city concept proposed by the state government.
Besides, Consumer Association of Penang also disparaged the project by suggesting that the huge fund could be used to improve the public transportation system instead. The idea of a third link seems unnecessary as the second Penang bridge is underutilized.
A third link connecting the northern part of Penang island to the mainland will undoubtedly reduce the traffic congestion, but not in a large scale. Penangites are more concern about the bad traffic within the island.
The Penang Undersea Tunnel project will primarily benefit the rich people staying in the northern part of the island.
Although Batu Ferringhi is a tourist hotspot, tourist who visit Penang will usually explore within the island as there isn’t much tourist attraction located in Seberang Perai.
Moreover, a total of RM305 million was charged for the feasibility study in addition to the RM6.3 billion construction fees. This is the first mega project that Lim Guan Eng oversee and it had already faced numerous setbacks. As the Finance Minister, the public might doubt Lim’s capability in handling mega projects for the whole nation.
When we look into the media exposure on Penang undersea tunnel, the media interest on the mega project had been reduced when PRU-14 is getting closer. It is also the same when we look into the exposure of Penang undersea tunnel and Lim Guan Eng together. After, Pakatan Harapan won the 2018 General Election, the media seems to forget about the undersea tunnel project.
Post-PRU-14, Lim was promoted to Finance Minister and Chow Kon Yeow was appointed as the new Chief Minister of Penang. Hence, the responsibility of overseeing the project had been passed down to Chow. Neither Lim or Chow gave any update on the undersea tunnel project. Is the feasibility study done? Will they continue the megaproject? Not until the whole 1MDB and RM1 trillion debt rhetoric is over, the media and people will remain oblivious regarding the issues.