Blog reader Kaki Pulau reflects on the changes in Penang since the 1970s.
A lot of things have happened to Penang Island since the 1970s. There was first Komtar, which was delayed in-between before completion and perhaps cost more than what it should have.
Then, there was the Penang Bridge, which people thought a good idea, but turned out to increase traffic congestion on the Island and still is the cause of increasing traffic congestion.
For me, who has been living around the Tanjung Tokong area and enjoyed the original beauty of the Tanjung Tokong–Gurney Drive area, what has happened in the past 30–40 years is nothing less than tragic. The mud in Gurney Drive has been there since I was a child and it used to stink at low-tide. If you’ve known Gurney Drive for a long time, you will realise how much of it has eroded into the sea. The building of Penang Bridge, no doubt had an effect. The moment an obstacle is placed to interrupt the natural path of water current flows, the current flow is completely changed. Thus, the environment changes. The silting will no doubt continue even if a mangrove forest is planted there.
I fully support the idea of a mangrove forest, but Gurney Drive will never be the same. The openness of Gurney Drive will disappear and the view of Kedah Peak across the narrow straits will be obscured by mangrove and concrete tower blocks.
The very first concrete tower block on Gurney Drive was Sunrise Towers. I used to hate it. It was completely out of place, then. I still feel repulsed by this concrete jungle and man-made environment.
Perhaps, one day, I will leave this behind for a more natural and unspoilt place, somewhere else… You can make all the money you want but that will never give you back what you have lost through the ambitions of those who only see beauty and value in dollars and cents.