First it was the Penang state government’s ‘Penang Blueprint’ for development in the state from 2011 to 2015. That was then set aside as the state government cooperated with the federal government to come up with the Greater Penang Transformation Plan.

That transformation plan was not really transforming anything; neither was it moving anywhere; so now the state government is coming up with its own ‘Penang Paradigm’.

Hopefully, this time we will have wide-ranging public consultations that will allow the public to ‘buy into’ the vision. Actually, these extensive consultation should have been done in 2008, when the new administration took over. But never mind. Better late than never.

Perhaps the state government can take a leaf from the gender-responsive budgeting consultations with the people to find out what ordinary people really want and what their concerns are e.g. the cost of food and housing, the congestion in the state. The discussions at Penang Forum 5 showed there is a significant divergence of views between the state government leadership and civil society/the public on what constitutes a liveable, international city.

Do people really want a tunnel or do they want sustainable public transport? Do people want expensive high-rise condos, or would they prefer more public green spaces? Do we really need a ‘Penang Sentral’? Or should we decentralise to public transport hubs all over?

Instead of rushing through with this Paradigm and the Penang Structure Plan, both should have extensive public consultations to find out what kind of development (sustainable, of course) people are comfortable with.

Would the Penang Paradigm have a vision of reducing pollution, cutting greenhouse gas emissions, cleaning up our seas, promoting organic farming, switching from private motor vehicles to buses, trams and bicycles? Would it empower ordinary people to seeks alternative, more sustainable models of development?

Or would we rather display a lack of forward thinking by promoting the Big Business, FDI-driven, top-down, fossil-fuel powered, unsustainable model of development, with ego-boosting mega projects thrown in? Do we want a MacDonald’s-lisation of our culture?

Penang could be a shining example of a green (not greenwash), ecologically friendly model of development. Or we could follow the worst unsustainable model out there. Which ‘paradigm’ is it going to be?

Let the Consultations begin.

This report from theSun:

January date for Penang Paradigm
Posted on 4 November 2012 – 08:53pm
Last updated on 4 November 2012 – 10:09pm

GEORGE TOWN (Nov 4, 2012): Penang will implement its own development plan if the federal government fails to do so.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said an improved development masterplan, Penang Paradigm, will be unveiled in January.

“We had cooperated with the federal government’s Northern Corridor Implementation Authority to come out with the Greater Penang Transformation Plan and had meetings with them between September and November last year.

“However, there is no news about the report which should have been disclosed to the public in March this year,” Lim said when tabling the 2013 budget at the state assembly on Friday.

“We are sincere in working with the federal government so that the plan will work out well but we cannot just sit still and wait,” he added.

The original Penang Blueprint aimed to cover strategies to develop the state between 2011 and 2015 was shelved to make way for the Greater Penang Transformation Plan, which is a joint effort between the federal and state government.