The state government has issued a flurry of requests for proposals to develop certain sites – but would this mean surrendering to the whims of high-end developers and pandering to the life-style of the moneyed class?
Requests for proposals have been issued for the following:
- 62-acre reclaimed site (with another 35 acres in the future) in Bayan Mutiara, comprising prestigious offices, specialist medical facilities (private hospitals?), commercial blocks, residential enclaves, retail and public spaces. This was supposed to be Gerakan’s mini-Putrajaya site in the days when it was dreaming and had illusions of grandeur. Is medical tourism really a priority for the people? Who benefits? Don’t we have enough private hospitals? What about decent low-income housing here? We always claim there is not enough land for affordable housing. What about this space? What about a large public park and more green spaces?
- the controversial Penang International Convention Centre – a lot has been said about this already.
- restoration and refurbishment of Fort Cornwallis – why can’t this be handled by a state authority? In the UK, the Tower of London is managed by Historic Royal Palaces, which is a ‘charity’ or non-profit NGO, governed by a chairman and a board of trustees (non-executive and unpaid) chosen for their skills and expertise. The chief executive of HRP (who heads a board of directors) reports to the board of trustees on the performance of the monuments and sites and ultimately to the legislative assembly to account for the public assets they are entrusted with. HRP receives no funding from the government. Instead, it relies on the support of visitors, members, donors, volunteers and sponsors. Can’t a similar model, suitably adapted, work in Penang for our own historical sites such as Fort Cornwallis and Crag Hotel?
- restoration and refurbishment of Crag Hotel – Will this provide a beachhead on Penang Hill for developers to come in with more high-end development at the eco-sensitive hill-top? Would ordinary public be able to tour the Hotel when it is open? Or would this be turned into another exclusive venue for the rich?
- nature trail and canopy walk on Penang Hill – Do we need an RFP for this? Wouldn’t this be best handled and managed by nature enthusiasts working with state agencies?
- Komtar revitalisation – anything to mitigate this BN sore thumb in George Town, providedexisting public spaces and greenery are not sacrificed to add to the congestion.