Time for a Parks, Gardens and Greenery Board in Penang


Blog visitor Kevin writes about the lack of tree care in Penang. Trees along our roadsides experience a lot of stress. In comparison, how many trees in the wild on Penang Hill or in the jungles were uprooted?

Kevin writes:

Are you suggesting that we chop off all trees just because there is a risk that they will fall?

This is what Malaysians do best. We like to blame God for everything that happens. If a landslide occurs, act of god. If a ramp collapses, act of god, if there are flash floods, act of god, if the mast of umno building collapses, act of god and now if a tree collapses, also an act of god.

When can we start being responsible for the things we do? I have always said there are proper ways to do things and there are wrong ways. Have you seen how trees are cared for and maintained in Singapore? And many of them are easily twice to three times the size of the trees along Green Lane. How is it that they do not have problems like us?

Could it be because god dislikes Penang as compared to Singapore and so creates more ‘acts of god’ in Penang? Or could it be that we do everything the wrong way.

In Singapore, the Parks Board oversees every single tree there, when they are planted, root barriers are built, anchors are made and the correct tree is planted at the correct depth to minimise mishaps. The trees are monitored constantly, trimmed when necessary and treated to ensure they are always healthy. In Penang, they plant anything (even plants that shed so much) and they simply dig a hole for it, even if it is just two feet from the road, there are no reserves or green pockets and the plants sometimes sit on a narrow strip which are less than 1 metre wide. Then we blame God because it is so convenient. Who even advises them? Why can’t they learn something from their many trips abroad?

Penangites must be the first to show to all of Malaysia that we, like other cities in the developed world, can implement best practices and follow them. I call on the state govt to set up a Parks, Gardens and Greenery Board to oversee all such matters and to at least minimise if not prevent completely such incidents.

Nobody in their right mind would say that trees cannot be cut for safety reasons such as when a tree has decayed. If a tree is decayed it can be removed and re-planting can be done.

People object only when trees have to be sacrificed for road works such as widening. In Penang, when roads are widened, not only are trees axed, but even pedestrian walkways are sacrificed for the benefit of motorists. If a tree has to be moved from an area to facilitate construction, it is all right, so long as re-planting of shady trees are done at the same location after construction is completed.

Right now, we axe the big trees and once construction is over, we replace them with so called ornamental shrubs which do not provide any shade for pedestrians and which do little to give us a green canopy effect that Penangites cherish. And this has been happening for a long time so you cannot blame people for protesting.

If you take a walk around the major roads in town you will see that the area is bare and lacks sidewalks unlike the case in Singapore, where trees are kept and sidewalks and roads built with the trees in mind. I have attached a link to show you how well planned trees and wide sidewalks are in Singapore, something which should and can be replicated in Penang, at least on all roads where we are spending money upgrading (might as well do it 100% right this time).

They built their roads and sidewalks around the trees, not replaced them with shrubs. And the flora are maintained so well that nobody dies because of a tree. Remember Singapore is also an Island with limited land and an even larger population. Now compare the link I have attached with the roads we have in George Town and one knows how much improvement we can make to our beloved Island. (Other) photos … show how badly planted the trees along Green Lane were compared to those in my link. The tree that fell, barely had enough soil to grip onto.



This link shows how big trees can be preserved or introduced by the side and in between roads without compromising on road width. Penang can study how Singapore has made it work …


Compare this to our Gottlieb Road which was just upgraded last year without much thought for greening it:


So much more could have been done to green the place like in the examples shown. The state govt know that greening can be done because it has done so on some stretches of Dato Keramat and Carnarvon Road where credit should be given. But their implementation does not seem co-ordinated as evident in their other projects like the one in Gottlieb Road.

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Ahmad Sorry

Now the gomen got license to chop down any trees. WHat a cheap excuse !!!


It definitely won’t help to cultivate Botak thinking (of myopic proportion) after this windstorm.
By then, comes another windstorm, Green Lane will have no standing trees for the kia si phobia of falling trees.


Saving tree should not overshadow the need for safety. It is also absurd to spent great cost to transplant road side trees, just to please some hypocrite. There are many ways to save the world, frugal living is the main one. Spending excessive energy to transplant a tree is not.

Ong Eu Soon

According to ancient knowledge our weather patterns have a 60 years cycle Every 60 years it has the potential of repeating the same weather. Each year it has 2 or more patterns that can be predicted thru’ the appearance of planetary stars. Our ignorance and neglect of ancient knowledge on weather make us very vulnerable to the change of weather. We are totally unprepared and don’t know what to do, allowing our activities to make our own living habitat increasingly more dangerous and unlivable. I only see the stupidity of modern human being even with the advance of technologies. Too… Read more »

Ong Eu Soon

It’s almost the solstice. Here in the Northern Hemisphere, the days are long, the sun is at its most intense for the year, and the weather is warm – but not as warm as it will be later this summer. And the summer sky is with us, too. The famous asterism known as the Summer Triangle is now ascending in the eastern sky on these June evenings. -(source:earthsky.org) i have warned before when mercury and venus appear on summer evening sky, heavy rain and storm will strike. This is because during summer, the earth surface is the hottest while at… Read more »


Oh, by the way, Bolehland-an seems taking the tree planting affairs as something taken for granted. And not to forget the utterly incompetent city councils carry out so called “beautification” work. In Klang Valley, All trees planted are WITHOUT ROOT BARRIER, I assume it happens to everywhere in Bolehland(TM). I am not sure whether it is standard practice or cutting corner. So when those tree growth up, you will see nearby walkway bulge up and destroy by the root. It also means that, the tree road just too shallow. And you can bet that, when those tree become 10 meters… Read more »


Yawn…. Malaysia urban resident just REFUSE to learn road make your home and surrounding HOT, so hot that you need to SPEND MONEY on aircons. When come to tree VS road, most Bolehlandan will hands up for the road. So most Malaysia residential area will see 2way 2 lanes pave road(that make 4 lanes) rather than 1 lane road. So after a day of cooking, the road will release the heat. This “features” is pleasant for people leaving in the upper south hemisphere but a bad news for tropical country. Because there is less green to provide condensation effect to… Read more »

Ong Eu Soon

With the wind storm leaving a number of trees plucked from their roots. Guan Eng want to cut down any tree if there is a request from any resident regardless of the protest from NGOs.
Your nightmare just begin. Guan Eng seem to blame the trees for the havoc.


Good if Penang government can promote green movement like Singapore’s ‘Saving Gaia’ campaign, the 2013 music video features the actors from ‘Ah Boys to Men’ movie:


a lot can be learnt from Singapore.


What is evident after the recent storm was the nature of all the uprooted trees, these are trees where the roots are no longer strong enough to hold the trees up since the ground cover have been replaced by layers of bitumen and tar or concrete pavements due to expansion works over the years. The lack of pruning turn the big canopies into wind catchers that will eventually topple these weak tree trunks. Nature will always prevail if it is forced to compete with man-made concrete jungle, unless we learn from our mistakes and make the right choices before its… Read more »

semuanya OK kot

Recreation is a basic right, and open spaces including parks, playgrounds and avenues are part of this. For our pleasure, sanity and health, we have to keep business, industry, roads and major establishments including schools distant from residential areas. Urban areas including roads should serve humans and not motor vehicles. Plutocracy, the collusion of capitalists and government, works tirelessly to undermine this right and misappropriate such spaces – even entire forests. For acapitalist, anything has value only as a commodity. Land must be exploited to the max, just like people and the commons. Any greenery and open spaces may be… Read more »


Nice observation by Kevin but I’d like to leave here my thoughts. Firstly, these trees are not planted just now. They were there a few hundred years ago. Look at the sizes. I believe the roads are built after the trees are there. Town areas are not ideal for plants. Trees grow well in the jungle coz that’s where they are suppose to be. And I am sure there are hundreds of trees falling every now and then in the jungles itself. .Only difference is we do not know about this and don’t bother to. If one tree falls in… Read more »


The problem is the unprofessional pruning of trees. The council gets a sub contractor with a lot of foreigner’s without any knowledge how to prune trees to slaughter our trees. This is part of the problem why these trees come crashing down in a storm.