The chief minister has said that if Hong Kong had taken the advice of Penang NGOs to stop all development following landslides, it would not be as developed as it was today. He said Hong Kong learned the lessons of a major landslide and soon came up with solutions.
The problem is that Penang learned little from the Granito landslide tragedy last year. In fact, the commission of inquiry has not yet even come up with findings. So how could Penang have learned anything?
The lack of monitoring was evident in the Bukit Kukus tragedy a year later, even after a warning sign from a ‘crane accident’ a week earlier.
Is the state government worried that Penang will be left behind or ‘backward’ and so it wants to drag us by the scruff of the neck to greater heights of ‘development’ – never mind the consequences?
But what exactly is the state government’s vision of ‘development’? A concrete jungle? High-rise buildings all over, even on hill-sides (even while we lack effective monitoring of hill-side development)? Hotels and more ‘development’ (complete with cable cars) on the Penang Hill summit? Polluted air and noise pollution from private motor vehicles jammed up on ever-more highways? Artificial islands for the wealthy? More theme parks (even on the eco-heritage site of Jerejak Island)? More and more malls selling stuff few can afford to buy? Home prices beyond the reach of the middle class and the lower-income group? More private hospitals and private schools charging exorbitant fees?
A concerned Penangite responded:
Backward? What is backward?
If backward means an incredible quality of life – the envy of the rest of the country – then we choose backward.
In fact we have always been among the most advanced – artists, writers, scholars, musicians, world class sportsmen and women. Think about who the best of Malaysia are and realise many of them are from Penang: P Ramlee, Jimmy Boyle, Lee Chong Wei, Nicol David, Chuah Thean Teng, Jimmy Choo, Dr Wu Lien-teh etc etc.
One small state with a world heritage site, a national park, a botanic garden, beach resorts, a hill resort, beach promenades, the cleanest water supply, one of the earliest electronic parks AND one of the strongest civil society sectors. People of Penang who actually care with no hidden agendas – you call us ‘backward’ and want to change all of it? To what? Let us know please.