This is what the Penang Botanic Gardens area looked like this Sunday morning.
The crowds at the gardens and the nearby Youth Park – even on weekdays – highlight the critical shortage of open green recreational spaces elsewhere on Penang Island.
Now, imagine if one fine day you wake up to find a cable car station in or around the Botanic Gardens. Something like this perhaps?
Can you imagine the crowds.. Not a good a idea.
Then, there is the added consideration that the Penang Hill summit is nearing – or may have exceeded – its maximum carrying capacity of 10,000 persons per day (as stated in the Penang Hill Local Plan) after the completion of the ridiculously fast funicular train in 2011.
In fact, a WWF Malaysia report in 2001 had recommended an even lower carrying capacity for Penang Hill:
The carrying capacity for Penang Hill was determined by taking into consideration the biodiversity conservation as well as the proposed tourist facilities, and infrastructure improvements that are detailed in the Action Plans, and is calculated to be about 4,000 visitors per day.
So any plan to add further modes/routes of transport eg cable cars to the hill-top should be flatly rejected.
Otherwise we will end up with a crowded over-developed summit which I don’t think environmentally conscious Penangites would want. Once we have big crowds on the summit, then the next step will be more property development pressure on the hill-top.
The BN-led Penang state government and Berjaya tried to do that in the late 1980s, but Penangites rallied around in a civil society-led campaign to Save Penang Hill, and that may have contributed to then Chief Minister Dr Lim Chong Eu being defeated in the 1990 general election.
So let’s be vigilant and nip in the bud any plan to add to the carrying capacity of Penang Hill.