9/11 REPORT CARD: Transport planning and policy in Penang (from a NPOV)

Help needed for better balanced coverage of ongoing Penang TMP discussions and next moves

Penang blind walkers white cane day

From the beginning of my relationship with Penang starting in the summer of 2013, I decided as part of my original exploratory mission with Think City  to create an open public website to share my experience widely with my international colleagues.  And then based on this common data platform from time to time to solicit their professional views on technical  areas with which I may be familiar for the point of view of policy, but in which I am not technically qualified.

The platform is entitled Sustainable Penang: Towards a New Mobility Agenda. It went on line on 20 June 2013, has been carefully maintained since,  and you can find it at  https://sustainablepenang.wordpress.com/

My goal in doing this was to create something along the lines of a personal “Journal of Record” of all I was seeing, hearing and learning about transport and land use issues, analysis, planning and policy in your beautiful and oh so delicate city-state. The intention was to open up the issues and discussions taking place in Penang to our extensive network of international colleagues, hopefully from a balanced professional perspective and in a comprehensive manner.

This modest open platform has thus far hosted a total of 256 articles on a wide variety of related topics as you can see from the opening webpage. At present it registers 192 “Followers”, that is readers who have signed in from 66 countires covering all continents, three quarters of whom (154) from outside of Malaysia. (On the webpage at http://wp.me/p3GVVk-ei you will see a map showing the international distribution of readers, 86% of whom outside of Malaysia, with consideerable interest from Asia/SE Asia.)

The site is reinforced by a comprehensive dedicated Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/SustainablePenang, also with largely international readers. Individual postings are accessed on average by 20/40 readers, with several in the hundreds running up close to a thousand.  The Facebook page also makes active use of local press coverage, in an effort to reflect the full range of views and recommendations.


Balanced coverage?

I think I have done a fairly good job of this, as you can see if you go to the site and check out the right-hand column which provides four groups of hot links, each of which linked to provide important background information from the vantage of:

(1) The original reports and recommendations of the Halcrow team as of December 2012;

(2)  Reports and information as made available thus far by the state and their consultants, the SRS Consortium;

(3) The reports, articles and discussions of the civil society consortium who are challenging the government’s PTMP and asking for a complete review of the planning process and recommendations.

(4) In addition, the platform provides an extensive collection of background documents, including that of an open public library which contains more than one hundred of related postings, reports, articles and references.


Sustainable Penang/Shared Transport Library 

library ladies index tagsHere is what has thus far been uploaded to the library for free use of all. It will be noted that a lot of very useful work has been done by teams and advisors over the last two decades, and in drawing up a definitive work program for the immediate future it would be a great loss of this valuable original material were not to be known and


  1. S/P Library home page: – https://goo.gl/gJTJZD
  2. Halcrow reports library – https://goo.gl/XJPK7x  (13 items)
  3. EcoPlan reports – https://goo.gl/vnxsEz (13 items)
  4. Useful references – https://goo.gl/gHG7hd  (61 items)
  5. Future visions of Penang – https://goo.gl/IIpwe7 (11 items)
  6. S/P Open Forum archives – https://goo.gl/XIe0bo (7 items)
  7. Sustainable Penang Classics – https://goo.gl/kS0JSx (15 items)


Penang – A Sustainable Transport Primer for a Battle of Ideas

But this is a hotly contested area of public analysis and investment decisions and even if I have my own views and opinions, I am hopeful that the site which has been prepared for my international colleagues will prove a good introduction– see article entitled “Penang – A Sustainable Transport Primer for a Battle of Ideas” at http://wp.me/p3GVVk-x3. The Primer is organised in six main parts s follows:

I. Penang – A Primer

II. Transportation infrastructure introductory overview

III. Non-governmental organizations

IV.  Competences and Deficits

V. Useful References

VI. Earlier work in field of sustainable transport strategies and planning



If you are a Wikipedia user you will be doubtless familiar with what they call NPOV, Neutral Point of View.  Since this is so important in this case, I think it is worthwhile to quote our Wikipedia friends working definition:

An NPOV (neutral, unbiased) article is an article presenting fairly, proportionately, and as far as possible without bias all significant views that have been published by reliable sources. This is especially important for the of controversial issues, where there is often an abundance of viewpoints and criticisms of the subject. In a neutral representation, the differing points of view are presented as differing points of view, not as widely accepted facts or unsubstantiated claims.


More details needed:

For my part I do not yet have a complete version of the picture so have to abstain in taking a firm position until I have seen more, in particular from local government and their consultants.

It would be a great help if I and others concerned could have access to the full 20 volume SRS report, which has been promised on several occasions but have yet to be seen. Also, to have a balanced view we should need to see the original contract between the SRS Consortium and the State government, as stipulated under Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s much discussed CAT commitment by government (Competency, Accountability, and Transparency).


poster sustainable transport dilemma 3

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About the author:

Eric Britton
13, rue Pasteur. Courbevoie 92400 France

Bio: Founding editor of World Streets (1988), Eric Britton is an American political scientist, teacher, occasional consultant, mediator and sustainability activist who has observed, learned, taught and worked on missions and advisory assignments on all continents. In the autumn of 2019, he committed his remaining life work to the challenges of aggressively countering climate change and specifically greenhouse gas emissions emanating from the mobility sector. He is not worried about running out of work. Further background and updates: @ericbritton | http://bit.ly/2Ti8LsX | #fekbritton | https://twitter.com/ericbritton | and | https://www.linkedin.com/in/ericbritton/ Contact: climate@newmobility.org) | +336 508 80787 (Also WhatApp) | Skype: newmobility.)

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