Residents around College Square in Pulau Tikus, Penang are upset over plans for some sort of “jogging track” on this neighbourhood green. The issue was revealed by a Facebook user and has now spread on social media.
Like I have said before, some people can’t stand the sight of untouched green spaces. At that is a problem: it gives them an incredible urge to pour concrete on these precious patches of green – or to erect concrete structures. They have a strange idea of “development”?
Perhaps there is something deeper at work here. We have lost our connectedness to the land and to the soil below our feet. We prefer to import our food instead of grow them locally, in the process undermining our food security. (And then we wonder why the prices of fruit and vegetables are so expensive.) Some of us even pour concrete and cover up the little gardens in our homes, if we are fortunate enough to have landed property.
And this urge extends to our neighbourhood greens. We feel ‘uneasy’ with the sight of plain grass, viewing it as a symbol of “backwardness”. So disconnected are we that we seek to put a barrier between the soil and us by pouring concrete and tar on the ground. Anyway, that’s my lay attempt at armchair psychology!
Shoudn’t our precious public works budget be better used in improving existing pavements and pedestrian walkways and clearing them of obstructions? Shouldn’t we preserve our precious, limited existing green spaces – especially in high-density development areas – to maximise rainwater absorbtion into the ground and reduce the likelihood of flash floods?
The area has had to face other challenges before: change of use of homes from residential to commercial, signages, etc.
Were the majority of residents even consulted over this latest project? “As usual, residents not consulted or told,” said one resident in the area.
Another person familiar with the area had a novel suggestion: residents should put up a sign that reads: “Stop before you do anything to ‘improve’ this field and area. Ask the residents and community first!”
The defacing of College Green has prompted a fourth individual to come up with an online petition, which has already gathered close to a 100 signatures.
The petition reads:
Dear Friends of Penang,
It comes to us, the residents of Pulau Tikus, as a rude shock that our historic field – the last green lung in the vicinity – is being defaced to insert a concrete jogging track and large paths cutting across it. As of today, huge tracts of grass have already been dug up in a crisscross pattern across the field. We are heartbroken.
In short, a field is a field. Children have played here for generations with no need for paving of any kind. A few extra swings would be a nice addition, but not anything that involves the sacrifice of grass. As it is, greenery is something we see so little of today. In an age of tablets and video games, this field is one of the last few of its kind on the island where our children and grandchildren can still feel grass under their feet, and sit with us under trees that have been there since we ourselves were children.
We do appreciate the council’s efforts to enhance the area. However, some things are best left as they are. Our field is a place of timeless charm and requires no modifications. As residents who have lived here for decades, we hope we possess a certain degree of say over what happens to the heart of our neighbourhood.
We respectfully request that this plan to “improve” the Pulau Tikus field be stopped. It is precious to us all, and we implore that it be left the way it deserves to remain – whole, green and beautiful, an eternal relic to be enjoyed by the generations to come. Please help us support this cause by signing this online petition. Thank you 🙂