Yesterday’s posting taken from the Sustainable Penang /New Mobility website at https://sustainablepenangagenda.wordpress.com/ asking about the activities, membership and commentary of the Penang Transport Council (see http://ptc.penang.gov.my/), lead to significant commentary and views on our Sustainable Penang 24/7 Open Forum (see https://web.whatsapp.com/ and the latest volumes in our S/P Public Library at https://goo.gl/gJTJZD.
To give you a first idea of the usefulness of these kinds of cities comments, here are the first ten that rolled in within some minutes of the principal posting. These are knowledgeable and concerned citizens; their critical comments need to be taken very seriously. The local government has to some to understand that these citizens are helping move Penang in the right direction.
- 1:44 AM – +60 12-422 1880: Well said Eric. Is this an old list? KM, myself and Maniam are no longer in Transport Council. It’s now populated by mostly politicians and civil servants.
- 1:47 AM – +60 16-410 3696: Ya, I am not in anymore. I think all of them are politicians. My name was in but was dropped the last minute. Ha, ha
- 1:49 AM – +60 16-410 3696: Except for government agencies such as JKR , SPED and others
- 2:19 AM – +60 12-402 3603: That’s worrying.
- 3:10 AM – +60 17-456 6012: As for the state heritage advisory panel it was abandoned years ago. There is now no state-level consultation on heritage or at least not with the Penang Heritage Trust.
- 3:19 AM – +60 12-402 3603: There appears to be less participatory consultation now than in the early days. Focus group mtgs and consultations should take place BEFORE planning.
Now what is called ‘public consultation’ is nothing more than ‘eye wash’, and procedural requirements. It is presentations made to large groups who have little chance to absorb, study or question in any meaningful fashion.
It is crowd dynamics & with a few well located ‘ayes’ in the audience, it is then reported as ‘well received’. Huge projects that will affect all our lives cannot be approved in this fashion.
- 3:19 AM – +60 12-501 5360: Transport council – Of the 2 women pictured, 1 is retiring next year.
- 3:20 AM – +60 12-501 5360: Lin Lee- And they cannot be improved either
- 3:20 AM – +60 12-402 3603: And who is a transport engineer or urban planner or related expert amongst these?
- 3:24 AM – +60 12-559 8621: Public consultation does seem to be just for box ticking rather than really trying to get a broader view if things.
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QUESTION: Does the Penang Transport Council (a) still exist and (b) doing the job that was defined as its mission when founded.
These independent observations and corrections concerning the reality of the Penang Transport Council are most encouraging, bringing us closer to the truth. They first of all point up the considerable difference between what is claimed and what is there in fact today.
For the record, I would like to note here the ambitious words summarizing the PTC function which describe the Council’s function as
“To adopt a new vision-paradigm in tackling transport – one that moves people away from over-dependence on private transport to a more economically and ecologically sustainable public transportation system”.
And then ending with their killer slogan: “Moving People NOT Cars “. Four little words so easy to say (and so hard to do).
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Editor’s Note: There is a smart public out there in Penang which is well worth listening to. These are important points and to my mind that all point in the same direction. Namely that the concept of an independent, qualified and respected Penang Transport Council is an important one. So why not, start there with a major program of reforms that take into account the above points and yet others that appear in the more than four hundred pages of discussions thus far under this Open Forum in support of Sustainable Penang.
Listening is a great art of leadership in our democratic societies. Let’s all get better at it. In the interest of a Sustainable Penang, today, tomorrow and in our grandchildren’s time.
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Bio: Educated as an international development economist, Eric Britton is an American political scientist, teacher and sustainability activist who has worked on missions and advisory assignments on all continents. Professor of Sustainable Development, Economy and Democracy at the Institut Supérieur de Gestion (Paris), he is also MD of EcoPlan Association, an independent advisory network providing strategic counsel for government and business on policy and decision issues involving complex systems, social-technical change, civil society and sustainable development. Founding editor of World Streets: The Politics of Transport in Cities | See Britton online at https://goo.gl/9CJXTh and @ericbritton