Aerial photo taken from above article by Mr. Joshua Woo.
Commentary of Assoc Prof Ahmad Hilmy Abdul Hamid from the School of Housing, Building and Planning,of the Universiti Sains Malaysia. (See bio note below and list of scholarly publications) — commenting on a letter to the editor by Mr. Joshua Woo Sze Seng that appeared in the Star newspaper last week on 28 May on the topic, More Highways, More Cars?:
MALAYSIANS are very lucky to have freedom of expression. Anyone can write anything in the newspaper or social media, barring of course things that insult the fabric of our harmonious society.
Unfortunately, this same freedom also allows opinions to be shared by people who might be clueless as to how things work in certain areas. Yet, these people appear as if they are an authority on the subject just because they are passionate in their beliefs or they happen to shout louder than most.
When Mr. Joshua Woo wrote as an opinion piece in the Star newspaper last week on 2 May, More Highways, More Cars?: He opens with the following challenge statement:
We are glad to bring you the first volume of the full set of reports that constitute the winning SRS “GAME-CHANGER FOR PENANG” proposal in response to the state government’s RFP for the “South Reclamation Scheme” (well-chosen word).
These reports have not been shared by the winning consultant or state government with the people of Penang, though they have been requested on numerous occasions and constitute essential reading if the public is to understand the proposed and greatly revised plan that came out of this successful RFP and indeed “Game Changer”.
The Consumer Association of Penang organized a National Seminar on Changing directions from 7-10 September 2001 in Penang, subsequent to which a report was published and we now make freely available here in its entirety at https://goo.gl/kQVD0T. This is a remarkably prescient document which was largely ignored at the time despite the vigorous effort of the Consumers’ Association of Penang and others in the city’s lively civil society and NGOs. Somehow neither Penang or the national government were prepared to devote time and resources to finding the path to sustainable transport in cities. (And they were not the only ones.)
The policy of directly or indirectly encouraging the use of private motor cars and motorcycles to meet the transport needs of our people has had severe effects on the quality of life in the cities and on the economy and efficiency of urban transportation.
Volumes 1 to 3 now available after a considerable delay for public inspection, review and comment
WHAT IS THIS?
We have just received from a concerned NGO, who prefers to remain anonymous, a full set of copies of the three massive SRS volumes submitted for public scrutiny, reflection and comment under the title “Bayan Lepas Light Rail Transit project – Environmental Impact Assessment report”. We are grateful for this democratic collegial gesture and are most pleased to share it widely in Penang and beyond. These are important documents for citizen review and active participation, and need to be made widely and freely available to all. The URLs for the three volumes will be found immediately below.
Full and open access to key documents and reports necessary for full public, NGO, media and international expert review, questions and commentary on the costs, technical details, analysis and justifications for the RM27-50 billion (it apparently depends on whom you ask and when) Penang Transport Master Plan has been seriously inhibited by the State government and their property development consultants and partners (SRS Consortium).
In the face of this resistance an informal citizen alliance and NGO task force has emerged and started to assemble and make freely available a growing library of key documents. At present there are more than 200 volumes and working papers already assembled in the library at https://goo.gl/xjCRT9.
Serendipity: The Happy Surprise
On 14 Dec. 2015: Mr. Lim Thean Heng, Chief Engineer, for reasons of his own, decided to created a WhatsApp group, “Sustainable Penang”. The results of his successful initiative can be accessed online via https://web.whatsapp.com/, and from there clicking the menu to Sustainable Penang. The forum is open to invited participants, and thus far has almost two hundred members, roughly 20% or so from outside Penang. One of the main targets of the forum is to get feedback and views on the state government ‘s work in preparation of a Penang Transport Master Plan, on which there are many opposing views, including in the most informed public and reaches of civil society. But that is not the only thing that gets talked about there.
Did you realise that our WhatsApp forum is also a valuable research tool?