A combined effort is to be taken to wrest Penang Port back from the successful bidder, business tycoon Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary, says the influential Penang Chinese Chambers of Commerce (PCCC).

A consortium made up of the Malay and Indian chambers of commerce, the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) and PCCC aims to keep the port with Penangites, PCCC president Tan Kok Ping said yesterday.

"The idea was mooted by local businessmen who want to see the sustainable development and management of the port. We want to privatise it and give something back to Penangites," Tan said.

A letter is to be sent to the Finance Ministry to make known their intention. The plan, he said, not only promised a bright future for Penangites, but it would also bring back the glory Penang Port has lost over the decades.

'FMM not a party to takeover'

However, Tan's proposal was not in sync with the FMM leadership, which said it is "not a party to take over any port. It is not part of FMM's core business to invest in ports".

FMM said though that it supported "greater transparency"in the disclosure of the merits and demerits of the privatisation of Penang Port, and called for open tenders in the event privatisation was considered the best option.

NONERecently, a joint five-point resolution rejecting the privatisation of the port was made public after a consultation among the three chambers of commerce, industry players and related stakeholders that was chaired by Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.

The 30-odd participants opposed to the downgrading of Penang Port to a feeder port also asked for the RM350 million dredging job to deepen the seabed to be speedily carried out.

This is to allow larger vessels to ply the harbour, and revamp the ferry service that is seen as a heritage icon.

In response, Seaport Terminal Sdn Bhd, which has been picked by the federal government as the preferred bidder for Penang Port, has denied claims that the company intends to relegate Penang Port to a feeder port.