Today, I met someone I know who delivers newpapers to homes in his neighbourhood in Penang every morning on a part-time basis. He told me he used to deliver about 170-180 newspapers on his daily rounds about two years ago. Nowadays, that figure has fallen to around 80.
He said many have terminated their newspaper orders and are turning to online sources of information. A certain English daily is the worst affected though Chinese-language newspapers are holding up.
I told him I expected newspapers to all but disappear within five years. I was surprised when he told me the talk in his circles is that they would disappear within two years. Whatever, it is just a matter of time, especially if the reporting does not serve or uphold the public interest. I doubt that the personal tax relief given for newspaper subs in Budget 2017 is going to stem sliding newspaper sales.
Another friend who describes himself as “a resident of Pulau Tikus losing his seaview” sent in this letter to The Star a few days ago, but as of yesterday it had not yet been published:
The writers of the article “Gurney Drive goes green” published in The Star, 21 October appear to have been taken in by corporate promotion of the so-called ‘Gurney Wharf’ project.
First, by proclaiming that the “Bund turns muddy brown waters off famous promenade jade green”, they ignore the cause of the mud flats that have blighted the Gurney Drive shoreline in the first place, namely siltation apparently produced by earlier reclamation for Phase 1 of the Tanjung Sri Pinang development.
Second, a careful examination of the artist’s impression and promotion for the ‘Gurney Wharf’ project (on full display at the E&O Visitor Centre at Straits Quay) reveals that an eight-lane “Gurney Expressway” running parallel to Gurney Drive will separate Pulau Tikus from the “24ha seafront public park”, accessible only via “two pedestrian retail underpasses”. On the promotional plans, this expressway is shown as “new” and covering “18.03 ekar”.
Worth considering when discussing the future “greenness” of Gurney Drive.
You will notice I am quoted in that Star article he referred to in one bland paraphrased sentence.
Actually, my comments at the talk on Gurney Drive were critical. I highlighted:
- the loss of The Commons to the public while large profits are “privatised” to large corporations.
- the question of whether the reclaimed land would be leasehold or freehold.
- the large amounts of the rocks and sand required and asked who is monitoring the sources.
- the proposed large property development project on reclaimed land somewhere in front of Gurney Plaza.
- the proposed eight-lane highway between Gurney Drive and the seafront. Was this and the tunnel project really necessary in the first place? Or was the highway to provide access to the property development project and beyond?
- the public display for the Gurney Wharf project which did not show the property development project and downplayed the eight-lane highway.
But none of this was reported. Instead what readers got first was a positive spin about Gurney Drive. This is what happens when newspapers are reluctant to publish anything remotely critical about property development.
By the way, how much is the bill for the Gurney Wharf project and who will be absorbing the cost (other than the land reclamation cost, which E & O is incurring)?