GEORGE TOWN: The Penang government is furious over claims that it had excluded three parliamentary seats from its free WiFi initiative.
Claiming that “somebody had twisted the news,” state telecommunications task force chairman Jeff Ooi told a press conference here yesterday: “We were only telling the public about the hotline they can call if they are unable to log on to the service.
“The news reports that came out were blatant lies.”
The three parliamentary areas that were allegedly left out included Kepala Batas and Tasik Gelugor, both held by Barisan Nasional MPs.
The other is Nibong Tebal, held by former PKR member Tan Bee Beng, who now represents the newly-formed Kita party.
Tasik Gelugor MP Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop, who is also a Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, had described the reported move as “childish and shows that Pakatan is insincere in taking care of the people’s welfare.”
Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen had also joined the chorus of protests, saying that all Penangites should benefit from the service.
Ooi, who is also Jelutong MP, said that if the WiFi coverage was politically driven, the state government would not have provided the hotspot at Bayan Baru, where he said there were “defectors.”
(Bayan Baru MP Datuk Seri Zahrain Mohd Hashim quit PKR in February last year to become an Independent MP).
Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the state was working on a joint-venture to provide another 750 hotspots for free.
He said the 750 hotspots provided earlier were installed by Redtone, which relied on advertising revenue to get back its investments and capital outlay.
“They targeted places which would have the greatest number of users and commercial exposure to increase their advertising revenue,” he said.
Lim said they were not being unfair to areas supporting Barisan as even Bukit Gelugor (held by DAP national chairman Karpal Singh) does not have sufficient coverage.