‘Penang Paradigm’ must have extensive public consultations


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.

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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.

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  1. Hi anil

    I’ve only been a casual reader of your blog, but I appreciate the ideas you suggest in each of your posts that I read.

    This post is a bit old, but the issue is not, so I hope you do reply.

    In your, and many other ngos’, dismissal of the plan i’d like to ask whether the following points have been considered.

    1) People are coming to Penang despite the roads

    There are 30 million people in this country, a portion of which are going to come to Penang no matter what because they have family here, they like it here, are willing to make the trip (which is not short if you come from KL), or for whatever else reason no matter what. And as the population grows, there will be more people coming to Penang whether we build roads or not.

    The question here is, would building these roads that the CM suggest be the key tipping point between the jams we have now and the extra, say, million people who will suddenly want to visit penang? A million people might come if we provide more irresistible services, but I doubt roads themselves would be the key factor.

    I might also add, this is not merely a tunnel from gurney to the mainland, but a comprehensive road plan that will divert traffic so that I get from point A to point D without having to go thru a jam with people who want to go to point B and C. Essentially, we can divert tourist traffic straight to batu ferringhi without having to jam up Green lane to scotland road for the locals.

    2) Two bridges and a tunnel will bring more traffic to island. But it makes living on the mainland an even more attractive alternative since it would be more convenient to get to the island.

    With two bridges and a tunnel, I would have so many options when I want to go to the island.

    It also would alter my preference of where I want to live. Essentially, there would be no difference between me staying in south of the island, teluk bahang, or right across the mainland near the tunnel.

    I might not even mind living near the first bridge. If I wanted to go to Gurney to Batu Ferringhi stretch, I won’t have to go through the jam on the bridge, then green lane etc. I would just travel along the mainland to the tunnel, and I’d get there easily.

    3) With the increased convenience of mainland to island travel, the property prices between the two sides of Penang would finally be more balanced, leading to more likelihood of affordable housing that is (this is key) convenient (i.e. not just cheap).

    First, pressure on island prices is due, to a certain extent, on the inconvenience of living on the mainland, forcing people to try by all means to stay on the island if they can.

    Increased convenience of the mainland could therefore ease price pressures on the island.

    What do you think?

  2. Again, LGE is talking plans/objectives/missions. Sure no problem. It is only talking what. Just pity the backroom staff who cannot keep up with LGE plans/objectives/missions.

    Wake up Penang voters. That plans/objectives/missions are not going to happen under LGE. Give him 20 years also cannot be done. Don’t waste your time and energy.

    Vote BN and let BN clean up all mess created by LGE.

  3. Anil, can you truly accept the outcome after public has been consulted? Why not conduct a poll yourself to see peoples view on projects such as the tunnel to prai?

    • Sure, but don’t just offer them the tunnel as the only option. Offer them a range of options (like a rail link) and spell out clearly the long-term consequences of each option (e.g. congestion, price tag, maintenance cost, etc). Tell them exactly where the money is coming from for the tunnel and how it is to be financed.

      Not just the public but sustainable transport experts should be consulted as well. Even the Penang transport masterplan consultant from Halcrow didn’t seem keen about the tunnel saying it should not be considered until 2030. It was in his draft report.

      The way I see it, the tunnel is just a populist carrot dangled to win votes without any thought about the long-term consequences and added congestion on the roads.

      Do you know that in Copenhagen and other European cities, a large number of people actually cycle to work … yes, cycle. And it does get very cold there, so don’t say we can’t do it here because of the weather.

      • Yup. Laying out the options would and asking for feedback from the public will be a good way to start. If we can build a tunnel, I am more than certain we can build a rail link to. Rather than moving cars, we should be moving people. Very often I see that the plans shown for public consultation do not display important details which the public would like to know like the costs, the proposed or estimated toll/charges, the possible ways it can be funded and if it involves land exchange, which piece of land is being considered. Of course it is much better than not showing anything to the public at all, but let us go the full way so that things are done right the first time. If a poll is set up to ask ppl to choose between rail transport, which could and should be expanded to other parts of Pg as the need arise and a tunnel for cars, I can guarantee you that 90% of ppl will vote for the former.

      • Anil. It is a lot more comfortable cycling in the cold than in the heat, especially so when the humidity on this island is close to saturation.

        When it is cold, you can wear heat retaining clothing. You cannot cycle and yet switch on the aircon when it gets sweatily hot. It’s difficult to settle down to productive work in the office after more than half an hour of cycling in the sun.

      • MPPP could plant shady trees along bicycle routes, workplaces could have shower facilities, commuters could leave for work in the morning light before it gets too hot…

      • It would be cheaper and certainly a lot more productive if we promote the use of electric bicycles on proper tracks in Penang. In China, they are sold at less than RM1000 each and travel for some 40km with each charge. Just make sure no crony hands nor APs are involved if we allow the import of those to this country.

  4. As usual and always BN UMNO Ah Cheap and their sycophants are using their dirtiest tactic to play out the PR state government just like in Selangor. When they cannot (entice) adun, they use such tactic of co-operation to try and look good in the eyes of the rakyat and then overturn what has been agreed.

    We cannot afford to have such deceits and lies and CHANGE is what we need.


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