Nowhere is spared … when concrete gobbles up our precious green spaces

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The recent floods don’t seem to have taught us anything. Some people still have an urge – call it an itch – to pour concrete and tar onto the few green spaces we have.

In a quiet neighbourhood in Tanjung Bunga, with hardly any traffic, paving has been placed around a small park, eating up precious green space. Metal railings are now being put up around the new pavement circling the park. And the road has been widened, even though hardly any traffic passes through the neigbourhood.

Now I am all for pedestrian walkways along busy streets, but why on earth do we need to build pavements that gobble up our precious green spaces.  And what is this craze for putting up metal railings wherever there are pavements? What is the logic? Is all this driven by contracts? I understand this particular project was initiatied by JKR? But surely the MPPP can protect our parks from being eaten up and degraded.

Concrete on greens 2014-12-31-005

This (below) is what it is like in nearby Taman Concorde. Who gets the contract for all this? Who came up with the bright idea of pavements around parks complete with railings? Who approves this? Who’s the lucky fella/firm who got the contract to supply those metal railings and pavement slabs?

Concrete on greens 2014-12-31-004

In another neighbourhood off Green Lane, a large Rukun Tetangga centre was constructed in this little park:

Concrete on greens 2014-12-31-001

So too a cement basketball court!

Concrete on greens 2014-12-31-002

More paving here. They call it ‘upgrading’…

Paving the park in Island Glades
Paving in the park in Island Glades

For more examples of how concrete and cement have scarred our parks, just drop by at the Youth Park.

READ MORE:  Penang landslides, floods: Unusual weather phenomena a sign of things to come

Of course, the mother of all concrete structures is this monstrosity at the Esplanade at Speakers Square. What were they thinking? ($$$, maybe?)

penang-esplanade-Padang-Kota-Lama-grounds

Over on the mainland, someone had the bright idea to build a Dewan (opened in 2001) right smack in the Butterworth Padang (see below).

Photo: ahmadalikarim.wordpress.com
Photo: ahmadalikarim.wordpress.com

Big contract there, eh?

The padang was further squeezed on the other side by road-widening. Where once crowds gathered to watch local league football matches, today the shrunken padang is hardly used, serving merely as a decorative green space for the town.

Another park nearby and one along Jalan Pantai had big chunks gobbled up by the construction of the Butterworth Outer Ring Road, which hugs the entire coast of Butterworth.

Of course, people will come up with all sort of silly reasons – safety, security, sports activities, rukun tetangga, you name it – to justify pouring concrete onto our precious green spaces, but I am not buying such reasons.

This is not just happening in Penang but all over the country.

If we can pour concrete onto our parks and green spaces and even into the gardens of our own homes, what chance do our forests and hills have of being protected?

And should we then be surprised by flash floods when rainwater has little room to be absorbed into the ground and instead gushes into our drains, which can barely cope with a sudden deluge.

Don’t mess with our parks and greens. Keep (the concrete) off the grass!

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28 COMMENTS

  1. For capitalism, maintenance, natural and cheap are bad words. Anything that generates more business (called growth), especially at public expense, is good. Climate change is (at least officially) a plot by some governments and scientists. In reclaiming non-essential land from the sea, Bolehland has outdone most other capitalist countries.

    Just wait for a couple of years and compare the condition of these sidewalks. Can they be used for cycling or are they already blocked and uneven?

  2. MPPP must plan out the state like a department store, which maximise every inch of their floor space for revenue. In this case it must be just having a grass cutting and rubbish collection contract for this park is not enough. Now they add a fencing contractor and a pavement maintenance contractor into the equation. Natural green spaces can’t give them a chance to cari makan, so they need to be reduced.

  3. Unfortunately most green spaces in housing estates in Malaysia are not properly maintained as people tend to dump their rubbishes there and the playground for kids are usually vandalised and damaged.

    • I thought the current DAP CAT MPPP is doing a good job in the maintenance of these green space but no its isn`t. In many areas there are no proper dustbin More areas are now very dirty and in dilipated condition. In fact they are doing a fantastic job clamping and towing car fining them RM100 -RM300 even in areas without the clamping signage. .

  4. I agree with pavements for pedestrians to walk on so that they do not have to walk on the road. But it should not be taken from our parks and green spaces but rather the roads. We need to limit roads and build more pedestrian facilities. In Sg, roads which were previously two lanes have been narrowed to one lane so as to add wide sidewalks that allow comfortable walking. Ppl are encouraged to walk and use public transport rather than bring their cars. In Europe, roads are closed to traffic and made into a street mall.

    There is also a need for more parks and green spaces. For a start make it mandatory for all new development to incorporate a large park and I do not mean a small ‘pocket’ park of one acre in size, it should be at least 10-20 acres or so. Why are they not making this mandatory in new development projects like The light, World City, South Bay, etc? That way, the state and MPPP does not even have to fork out money to buy land for parks. It will also enhance the appeal of the area and promote a healthier lifestyle, a win win win situation for all. Instead, developers get away with providing a small one acre garden that they call a park.

    Another idea is to use existing unused state land and turn them into green areas planted with trees.

    • Look at most of the development now being built. Its Soho and Suites, its no more mandatory for developers to provide garden space for the resident. Instead resident are now been provided with commercial shops below them Thus their recreation will be the 4 walls concrete shop lots. This is not what we want, we want sustainable development and the DAP CAT govt has failed us.

      • This is happening everywhere in Malaysia. Do not blame the Penang government just because you are not happy.

      • Yang can ask NFC to build condominium for him so that he could enjoy the green grass with those lembus.

      • Its easier to say its happening everywhere in Malaysia. As a Penangite, I am talking for Penang and as such I refer to the CAT who has failed his promises. Are you sayng that since its happening all over Malaysia or the world, then we should not reprimand or complain about this CATs` wrong. If that is the case, the oppostion should not be complaining of BN alleged unaccountability or malpractice since it is also happeing through out the whole word.

      • Roger, it is happening in all major cities in Malaysia but the difference is Penang is governed by a pakatan rakyat government. I don’t know if you know what this means or if you are from Penang but here in Penang we voted in a government that is supposed to protect the interest of Penangites. We booted the last one out because they turned out to be like ‘everywhere in Malaysia’ .It is the job of the Penang government to ensure that developers do not cheat penangites. Earn money by all means but put in the adequate infrastructure and green space. If the rest of Malaysia would like to be in a mess, I don’t care, but Penang should not be like that. We should aim to be a green garden city like Singapore is despite their ultra high human and building density. If they can do it, we can do it too.

    • Wonder how many Penangites bring their families to the Botanical Garden instead of shopping malls during the weekends.

  5. How to Beautify the Malaysian townscape:

    If its green, its probably grass
    cannot have , cannot have,
    ugly, ugly, ugly,
    tear it out, tear it out,

    Replace with healing ingredients

    Ingredients:

    1. One mountain of gravel
    2. half a mountain of cement
    3. A large dam of water
    4. one large iron smelter producing metal pipes
    5. One large asphalt plant

    Mix together until hot, hot, hot
    Apply liberally to all formerly grass verges and parks
    Let set until rock hard

    add a dose of people
    walk, walk, walk,
    hot feet , hot feet, hot feet
    shin splints, shin splints, skin splints
    no walking, no walking, no walking
    Take the car, take the car, take the car
    turn the air conditioner up
    build new roads, build new roads, build new roads

  6. Please go visit Singapore and see how its greening efforts have been going on for 50 years, since the first Tree Planting Day in 1963, which was followed by integrating parks and green spaces into the housing estates and developing a sustainable Singapore blueprint. The housing estates are connected with parks and garden that will be focal points for the community, hosting cultural performances, nature tours and other activities. It is now moving on to its next phase to become a “city in a garden”, Singapore will have 900 more hectares of park land across the country.

    • Singapore has become a world city with many accomplishments after leaving Malaysia 50 years ago. About time for Malaysians to swallow our pride to emulate them in this aspect via lawatan sambil belajar.

      • Many of those than “greenify” the Spore island are experts originated from Malaysia.

        Penang Gomen can give good incentive to lure them back to live in Penang ? Incentive like subsidised international schooling for their children or subsidized lifestyle condos at Strays Quay ?

        BTW, 4 China big companies listed in US to invest in Bukit Kawan. If your children are teenagers studying Engineering, now it’s time to invest in affordable housings at Bukit Kawan. Jobs knocking on them later and buy a property there now while still affordable. Island is too concrete now.

      • I have encountered a malay former civil servant of Majlis Bandaraya now working as a freelance landscape consultant in Singapore.

      • Instead of ‘lawatan sambil belanja’, the Penang authority can certainly copy some ideas from these websites.

        Do you notice that in Malaysia when the ground is dug out for maintenance work (piping or cabling), the contractors never bother to level up the ground properly and never bother to returf if with grass, after the job is done?

  7. It’s becoming like Japan
    i.e. “public works” projects all over the place, even unnecessary ones.

    In Japan, we see dams everywhere, with the result that rivers have become
    pathetic little streams. There are also roads that lead to nowhere.

    More projects (at the expense of the tax payer) = more contracts to award to cronies & more
    opportunities for graft

    • Agree with you. In Malaysia and particularly in Pg, pedestrian facilities are not safe from motorcycles. They ride on top of everything including five foot ways and promenades. Just check out Pers. Karpal Singh in the evening. Not only do they park on the pavement, they ride on it at full speed. A danger to cyclists and children who are unaware and running about.

      What does the MPPP/state govt do? They don’t care. They blame the police for not taking action and the police will blame them for not taking action. In the end, the rakyat suffer.

    • The railings should be higher to deter snatch thieves on motorcycles.
      It is safer to have railings especially near to a street corner.
      Pedestrians is to wait at traffic lights and this is safer.

      • Those so-called anti snatch theft railings merely an excuse to provide easy money contracts to the cronies.

      • Nail is right. Malaysians hardly walk as the government has made them dependent on cars. Young folks cannot even walk short distances, but ironically do not mind paying a lot for gym membership to run on threadmill machine.

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