Take a look at these photos taken by a concerned Penang resident.
If you think the background of the photo above looks ominous, wait till you see what is in store for the foreground – the area presently being reclaimed near Gurney Plaza.
Then there is that eight-lane highway planned to run parallel to the entire length of the present Gurney Drive coastline:
If you think becoming like Hong Kong (minus its excellent public transport and close monitoring of hill slopes) would be great, think again. Look at the socio-economic and housing problems Hong Kongers are facing.
Some of these problems are self-inflicted. Lucrative land sales by the Hong Kong government to developers are “a de facto tax paid by common citizens buying or renting flats at sky-high prices in the private market”.
What’s more, Hong Kong’s property woes will not end until speculators from mainland China are curbed. It is the most expensive city to live in the world with people “sleeping in ‘coffin’ apartments, illegal shacks and McDonald’s restaurants“.
Meanwhile, Hong Kongers will keep emigrating if money always comes first for the city. The reasons for emigration? “The stressful lifestyle, unaffordable housing, high cost of living, lack of political freedom, and a rigid education system.”
And to think there is a whopping 7,700 acres of further land reclamation planned for Penang until 2030 even though the population is only expected to inch up from 1.7 million now to 1.9 million in 2030, according to a Statistics Department projection last year. (Already, the total fertility rate now of 1.5 children per couple is well below the population replacement rate of 2.1.)
But let’s “build, baby, build!”- never mind if most of the locals won’t be able to afford it. And to justify such massive, mindless land reclamation, the draft Penang Structure Plan 2030 has come up with an inflated population figure of close to 2.5 million by 2030.