Statement by Lim Guan Eng in Georgetown, Penang on Saturday, 27th September 2008:
Penang to hold public forums on the health safety of the Free Wireless@Penang
effort and willing to scuttle this project if the WHO can be proven
wrong that there are no health risks
The Penang state government is ready to
cancel and abandon the Wireless@PENANG broadband project if there
is scientific proof to show that the health of the members of the public
will be adversely affected due to the wireless network.
Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng made the commitment in response to concerns
by some NGOs of potential radio frequency radiation causing harm and
objected to the wireless broadband project, which is aimed at providing
free WiFi connection to the entire state within 24 months.
We regret that the Wireless@Penang effort to make Penang the first WiFi
state in Malaysia, has been equated with the proposed RM 25 billion
Penang Global City Centre(PGCC) project proposed by the previous
government. This new government rejected the PGCC because it did not
benefit the people but enriched only one company, whereby the rezoning
to “mixcd development” by the previous governemt allowed that company an
instant revaluation profit, which has been estimated by NGOs at RM 1.5
On the other hand, both companies undertaking this wireless effort will
neither be paid any money from the state government nor receive any
payment from the people of Penang despite investing tens of millions of
ringgit,. The Penang Free WiFi service is provided by the
REDTone-Hotgate consortium, while the WiMAX subscription-based service
is provided by Packet One (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd.
Earlier, the Penang state government has announced the staggered
implementation of state-wide wireless broadband services, namely the
free-of-charge WiFi and the affordably-priced wireless WiMAX. Both
REDTone and Packet One are service providers licensed by the Malaysian
Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), with approval by
government agencies like SIRIM and Malaysian Nuclear Agency.
“So far, we only received negative feedback for parties who quoted
various anecdotal reports about Radio Frequency Radiation (RFR) and
effects of Electromagnetic Field (EMF) and claimed that WiFi is
hazardous to public health,” Chief Minister Lim said.
“However, we have been advised that this wireless technology poses no
health risks from the authoritative reports by World Health Organisation
(WHO), the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) --
which set the standards for WiFi (IEEE 802.11x) and WiMAX (IEEE 802.16e)
-- and the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection
(ICNIRP), which had released many research papers related to the core
“So far, results of these studies give no consistent or convincing
evidence of a causal relation between Radio Frequency (RF) exposure and
any adverse health effect,” Lim said.
“Prior to the launch of Wireless@PENANG, my officers had also
consulted MCMC, the local industry regulator, who pointed us to their
adherence to Safety Code 6 of Health Canada, which covers RF exposure
compliance of Radiocommunication Apparatus for all frequency bands,” Lim
The Chief Minister referred to the
conclusions of the WHO of the United Nations in a report that considered
10 years of research, which state that,
“The amount of non-ionizing radiation
absorbed by a person’s body from a Wi-Fi station is less than
one-fifth that they receive from FM radio and TVs that surround them
day and night.
And the level of
non-ionizing radiation — radiation such as light or microwaves that
do not cause genetic damage — from the wireless computer routers are
between 0.002 per cent and two per cent of international
“We were assured that the WiFi and WiMAX
apparatus and equipments being used in Malaysia are within the safety
guidelines. Having a state-wide wireless network for Internet access,
and bringing the service to all segments of the society will help the
government attain its vision of transforming Penang into an
international city that is a location of choice for investors,
destination of choice for tourists and habitat of choice for residents
desiring sustainable living,” Lim said.
“Therefore, I don’t see the reason why people should be negative about
prevalent modes of Internet connectivity and stand in the way of
technological progress meant for the larger public good,” Lim added.
As part of our commitment towards accountability, the chief minister is
receptive to public requests for continued consultative and educational
sessions with the government pertaining to the implementation of
“I have instructed our tech-savvy Member of Parliament Jeff Ooi, who is
first Malaysian blogger and author of a book related to knowledge-based
economy, to organise a public forum for that specific purpose,” he said.
“For the purpose of public education, we will also make available the
various research papers pertaining to public concern over RF radiation
that had been wrongly linked to WiFi and WiMAX. And should there be
proof to show that the studies made by WHO, IEEE and ICNIRP are wrong,
the state government would immediately cancel and abandon the free
wireless project at no extra cost to the government ” Lim said.
He added that the public forum, will likely be held after the Hari Raya
Lim Guan Eng, Penang Chief
Minister Penang & DAP