Mourning the loss of a green space

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In an incomprehensible move, the public green space in front of the Dewan Sri Pinang has been fenced up.

I had blogged about this before here but today, I found the following message from a concerned Penang resident in my mailbox:

This little green lung has a history. It was designed in the early 1990s and planting was carried out just before the visit of the then Agong. It was meant to be a very green, friendly space for use by visitors, the inner city residents and office workers. It had lots of grass in little undulating mounds and criss-crossing pathways, which had already been etched into the earth from use by folks walking from the Esplanade to the Courthouse and to Green Hall.

The centre had two wonderful rows of very mature palm trees transplanted at great expense from another council site. The trees at the edges were kept in order to provide shade. It was inviting and non-intimidating and used by all.


Concrete over a green space: The fencing going up last year – File pic by Anil

Now it’s been completely fenced up and is inaccessible. The fencing is overly elaborate, obviously very costly and totally out of context. The centre has been totally concreted and tiled so it’s hot and non-useable. It has a really ugly, useless fountain. The front of Dewan Sri – a classical early post-war modernist building – has had its entire frontage and symmetry destroyed by a very large, obtrusive and inappropriate yellow perspex awning.

Most importantly, the inner city of George Town, already short of green spaces for use, has had one more removed totally unnecessarily. At no point in time can the fencing off of public spaces, for no reason whatsoever, be justified. In this case we were told the fencing was ‘to protect the decorative planting’. We should demand to know why public funds were used for decorative planting and then more public funds were then used to protect that planting.

Blog reader Jessica adds:

Anil, as a student of CLS in the 80s, I know that this green space has been there way back. We schoolgirls used to cross it to walk to the light street bus stop. There were lovely large trees which offered shade and many used to stop and rest beneath them. It was in the 1990s that the grass was dug up and the ground concretised. An odd arrangement of concrete structures was set up on the space, and the tress were brought down. It was no longer suitable for walking across or resting. The fencing is, of course, new. I agree with you that the space should be restored to its original condition, and made accessible to everyone. No point having decorative planting if no one can enjoy or appreciate it. Trees will do just fine.

This seems to confirm my theory that certain people have this uncontrollable urge to dump concrete or put up a concrete structure wherever they see any public green space. And of course they make some $$$ along the way with these projects/contracts.

The state government is due to meet reps from civil society groups tomorrow to discuss the setting up of a Speaker’s Corner at the Esplanade after they complained about the loss of the green space at Dewan Sri.

It should seriously consider re-opening this green (what’s left of the green, that is) space for public use.

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tan cairong

The people who run our city don’t derive benefit by keeping that green patch. In fact by concreting they save the bother for its upkeep. They don’t look at greenery as people who move around the city by walking. If we wish to keep the environment green we need to have city officials who take bus or cycle to work. Only then they will realise their action’s impact on the quality of life in our city. In London, it’s not rare for ministers to take bus or train to work. Can you imagine our ministers going around the city without… Read more »

Gerakan K

Please give LGE a break. His DAP Perak government already gone. Please respect the mourning period.

MalaysianinNewYork

Viva Green Anil, but people are not, then what do you do about it without the support of the public, shout and make noise, but end of the day it is all political. The charade can only be unveiled as seen by the earlier commentor, if the public are subjective for an objective purpose to create the ambience rather than be the tool for the political need for the others’need that had led us to be what we are today in Malaysia. This is individual not some superficial agenda for the betterment of the society that we live in. It… Read more »

kakipulau

The Penang State gov. should remove the concrete, re-plant the trees and grass and remove that unsightly fence. The concrete space looks dead. Wonder what the Penang gov. intends to use it for? Why the horrible hard fencing? No hedges, not even dustbins. What is it keeping this defaced space for? Is this how they save public funds?

Jessica

Anil, as a student of CLS in the 80s, I know that this green space has been there way back. We schoolgirls used to cross it to walk to the light street bus stop. There were lovely large trees which offered shade and many used to stop and rest beneath them. It was in the 1990s that the grass was dug up and the ground concretised. An odd arrangement of concrete structures was set up on the space, and the tress were brought down. It was no longer suitable for walking across or resting. The fencing is, of course, new.… Read more »

Andrew

The fences everywhere are ruining George Town. The Supreme Court, the Cenotaph, the Legislative Assembly building have all been fenced. The worst is the one in front of the Legislative Assembly, as the fence is too ornate, high and too close to the building so that it ruins the facade of the building and makes it look like a cage.

Yang

Andrew,
What do you want ???. Without the fence, there will be vandalism and graffiti etc etc. You just can`t please all.