Speakers’ corner for Penang?

Penang may soon set up the country’s first public speakers’ corner.

(I use the term ‘public’ because a speakers’ corner at the Perdanasiswa Complex in Universiti Malaya has just been re-opened after about 40 years.)

The Penang state government said yesterday that it was thinking of a permanent stage at the Esplanade for candlelight vigils, open forums and demonstrations. It would be at a distance from traffic, said a report in today’s Sun.

“The stage can be used on request by anybody, provided it has not been reserved for other events,” said exco member Chow Kon Yeow, who added that a committee may be set up to liaise with NGOs in this matter.

Now this is a positive development, especially if the state government folks are going to discuss the exact location with civil society and the public – but why do we need a stage?  In London, the Speakers’ Corner does not require any prior request or approval for speakers to address whoever is willing to listen. On weekends, anyone can step up on a crate (no stage is needed) and speak to whoever cares to listen. At any one time, there could be around half a dozen different speakers animatedly addressing small crowds at different spots in the area while engaging with or ignoring hecklers. We should not follow the farcical Singapore ‘Speakers’ Corner’.

All the same, the loss of the fine public space in front of Dewan Sri Pinang still saddens me.



Tian Chua in car crash, escapes unhurt

PKR MP Tian Chua had a narrow escape when his car smashed into the divider of the the North-South Highway during heavy rain early this evening.

The smashed Camry – Photo by Tian Chua

The impact crumpled the front portion of the white Camry, but the MP for Batu escaped unhurt.



S’pore, M’sia fare poorly in ‘quality of life index’

Many Malaysians look up to Singapore for its quality of life.

But have a look at the ‘quality of life index’ compiled by International Living based in Ireland. Singapore has an overall score of only 61, just above Malaysia’s 58. Both are way down the list.

Of course, this ranking isn’t entirely objective as it is based on a combination of data obtained from official sources and editors’ and readers’ perceptions. Moreover, the compilers of the index admit they have a Western bias when it comes to matters such as climate preference.

Cost of Living70
Leisure & Culture71
Risk & Safety86
Final Score58