2 186

Our guest contributor is Eric Britton, a sustainable transport expert who visited Penang a couple of years ago. He says, “The priority is not to further expand supply of inefficiently used infrastructure, but rather to manage and use it better.”

11 530
Photograph: The Malaysian Insider

Under normal circumstances, I would be the first to support any plan to promote sustainable transport in Penang and Malaysia. Unfortunately, I cannot support the Penang transport masterplan as it stands for the following reasons:

1. Ballooning costs: The cost keeps ballooning even before it starts. RM27bn was already an astronomical figure. Now we are told it will be RM35-40bn (The Edge interview with the Penang chief minister). And that is excluding the tunnel, mind you. (A figure of RM6.3bn has been mentioned for that. These are mega projects by any definition – and we used to criticise Mahathir for those, with justification. Whose idea was it to have a road tunnel, anyway?

17 530

CAP has just come out with a statement below:

What is Penang without her green? What is Green Lane without the Green? Penang is slowly losing its green as more concrete jungles are taking over for development and paving the way for more vehicles.

17 551

Construction of three highways in Penang Island is expected to begin in June 2016, but the consortium will only need a preliminary EIA before starting work. This is such a major project – highways near hills and densely populated areas – and yet, they don’t need a detailed EIA?

24 1909

In this era of climate change, I was alarmed to hear that up to three dozen big trees could be removed along Jalan Masjid Negeri (“Green” Lane) to make way for another car lane. (Update: Apparently, 18 trees could be involved, not 33 as reported or recommended – and MBPP has not yet made a decision … though the project is expected to be completed by May 2017.) This is the stretch across the road from the MacDonald’s outlet.

This road-widening project is expected to cost some RM15m. (Update: Now they say it will cost RM7.8m – plus acquisition costs?) Is this the best use of our limited funds? Would it really solve our traffic problems? For how long?

5 1364

That was a reader’s comment left on the website of the Wall Street Journal. The Swiss were renown for their banking secrecy, but even they couldn’t keep mum over this.

The sum suspected to have been misappropriated amounts to around US$4bn; its intended purpose is the subject of further investigations. So far it has been ascertained that a small portion of the money was transferred to accounts held in Switzerland by various former Malaysian public officials and both former and current public officials from the United Arabic Emirates.

So thanks to the Switzerland attorney general’s office, we now know there is a ‘black hole’ out there amounting to US$4bn (RM17bn), involving several firms that have links to 1MDB.

In my piece, The black hole of 1MDB, I noted that 1MDB stood to make at least RM12bn in property revaluation gains. This would come in handy for 1MDB to fill up its own black hole by paying off its debts, (incurred on what?) and papering over its losses.