Penang launches free WiFi project despite objections

(The Star) – The Penang Free WiFi project has been laun­ched with a test site each in Komtar and two shopping complexes.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, who launched the test-drive promotion period at Komtar yesterday, said the state was pushing on with its initiative despite opposition from certain quarters.

“After hearing all the evidence, we have found claims that WiFi could be dangerous to the health unsubstantiated; so we are proceeding full swing with the pro­ject,” Lim said.

The three sites at the Komtar concourse and ground floors of Queensbay and Bukit Jambul Com­plex would be open until tomorrow.

Lim added that experts at the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission and the Malaysian Nuclear Agency along with research by the World Health Organisation had all concurred that there were no proven health risks by WiFi exposure.

“If WiFi is harmful, the first two people to get fried by radiation would be Jelutong MP Jeff Ooi and myself as we work up to 12 hours a day at our offices on Komtar’s 28th floor where there are four hotspots.

“We are exposed to WiFi 24 hours a day as we have wireless facilities at home and although I might look old, do I look un­­healthy?” Lim asked.

He added that Wei Chuan Beng, group managing director of public-listed company Red­tone, who is initiating the state WiFi project, said 25 hotspots would be set up by the end of February and the number would grow to 300 by March next year.

Earlier in the morning, several residents and representatives of primary school parent-teacher associations in Air Itam ex­­pressed their concern over telco towers in the area.

“We are not against the state wireless project but what we want is the relocation of such towers to somewhere far away from schools and residential areas,” said SJKC Shang Wu Pa­­rent-Teacher Asso­ciation chairman Ong Bee Lay.

She said there are three telco towers in the area.

“We will launch a petition tomorrow in front of Shang Wu and SK St Xaviers before and af­­ter school hours to collect signatures from parents and teachers to support us,” Ong said.