PR firm soliciting NGO views on Penang mega project


I’ve just heard from a reliable source that a PR firm, Fox Communication, is going around meeting NGO representatives to find out their views on the Penang Global City Centre project. The project is located on that vast plot of prime land used by the Penang Turf Club, which will be relocated to the mainland.

The PGCC is being developed by Equine Capital. Isn’t that a Patrick Lim company?

I hate to think what the traffic will be like along Scotland Road, already congested during peak hours, if they go ahead with the PGCC and build, what, 40 tower blocks on the Turf Club land.

This project will in all likelihood spell the deathknell for Komtar, that mega project of the 1970s. The 65-storey tower block is fast turning into a white elephant even before all the planned phases are completed.

As one veteran activist said, the PGCC project “looks like a mega monster of a development, totally incompatible with the site and context…empty more of Komtar? kill more existing shopping place? add crazily to excess office space and luxury housing? create traffic mess? and an ecological nightmare!”

Penangites should instead lobby for the Turf Club land to be turned into a Penang State Park along with model social housing on the fringes. After all, KL is going to have a “Central Park” – what about Penang? The Turf Club is the last huge plot of accessible land on Penang Island that could be turned into a spacious state park.

Penang badly needs a new park. Just look at the Botanical Gardens and the Youth Park: they are both so congested that people are practically walking into one another.

At one time, I had hoped that the Penang state government would use the large empty plot of land along Jalan Udini for a state park. No such luck; the state government obviously has other (business) priorities. When our planners see any green space, you can almost see $$$$ in their eyes. So Tesco set up shop there – and that was the end of that, as winding access roads and large commercial complexes rapidly filled up the green lung.

Then there was Pulau Jerejak. Large parts of that too have been slated for commercial development when it could have been left untouched and used as a park along the lines of Vancouver’s Stanley Park.

The developers of any mega project these days usually appoint PR agencies not only to promote the project to potential investors but to deal with possible protests from ordinary people or civil society.

PR firms are paid to come up with strategies to overcome NGO or public resistance to huge controversial projects.

My friend, an experienced marketing and communications professional with extensive experience in the PR industry, had this to say:

There really ain’t any point (for the NGOs to give) Fox any input — this will only be fed into their PR strategy and they will just come up with ideas and strategies to HANDLE THESE NGOs AND THEIR VIEWS – which determines their (PR) fee. Sigh… NGOs talking to them are just being used by them. NGOs should just gang up and put their views across via their own ‘PR vehicles’.

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