Penang: A Walk along the Street of Harmony

Penang Street of Harmony Project celebrates mutual tolerance illustrated by this amazingly cosmopolitan microcosm.

 – Anwar Fazal takes us for a walk down the Street of Harmony in Penang.

The island of Penang, Malaysia, has long been a magnet for a multitude of people from all over the world and has over the last two centuries succeeded in integrating countless cultures and religions into its very fabric.

Penang  is very special.  It was a place that opened up for all the communities of the world. That particular special flavor, sometimes in many places in the world, is all too often lost over history. But in Penang, uniquely, it continued.

There is much Penang can teach the world today about acceptance and harmony in diversity.

* * * Walk down the streets of Penang with Anwar Fazal. |  View:

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QUESTION TIME : RM46 billion PTMP is a risky undertaking that must be reviewed

SRS Consortium and State government meeting in Komtar to finalise PTMP.

– P Gunasegaram, Malaysians Kini, 1 Nov. 2019

The RM46 billion Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP), expected to span 30 years, is a major risk, whichever way one looks at it because there are way too many imponderables and assumptions made – which may impact the viability of the project further down the road.

The entire project hinges heavily on the reclamation of three islands. The Penang state government says that the land reclaimed – islands A, B, and C – will have a sale value of RM70 billion for 1,800 hectares (about 4,448 acres). However, cost breakdowns and timelines are not available.

The other thing is the high cost of the projects, with activist groups claiming that many of the highways and other links involved in the project may not be needed. If these are scrapped, the cost could be much lower.

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Expert Op-Ed: Role of public transport in relieving traffic congestion in Penang

Penang CAT bus
EXPERTS believe that improving public transportation is one of the most important ways of easing traffic flow on highways during festive seasons.
Traffic engineering specialist Dr Law Teik Hua said instead of widening roads and highways, the authorities should focus on upgrading the public transportation system.
“It is not necessary to widen roads to ease traffic. It will be costly and time-consuming to do this.
“We cannot say that widening roads will solve the congestion problem. That is not right.
“We must have a clear policy whether we want to promote private or public vehicles.
“Perhaps it is okay to have roads widened to ease traffic flow in the future, but what about the off period (non-festive season)?
“It is wasteful. Why don’t we use our resources to invest in upgrading public transportation?
_ _ _ _
Author: Dr. Teik Hua Law.
Universiti Putra Malaysia | UPM ·
Department of Civil Engineering ·
PhD in Transportation (Imperial College)


Penang _ meeeting of state government with SRS consotium 15 aug. 2015

I ask this group the following.

(1) Is it possible for men and male-dominated decision fora and processes in general to plan and implement efficient and fair mobility policy and practice for women and girls?

(2) Are the planning and decision fora in Penang largely dominated at present by males?

(3) In your view should women and women’s group organize to support a state-wide movement to full gender parity in the transport sector? Starting on Monday morning?

(Please share your thought, including on the COMMENT link here.)

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Penang CM selling PIL1

By Eric Cheah  August 7, 2019, 

When Yeo Bee Yin, the minister in charge of the environment, praised the Penang government for making the state the first to eliminate plastic straws during a town hall meeting on the Pan Island Link 1 (PIL 1) on Sept 20, 2018, civil society cringed.

Why ban plastic straws when they are pushing for a monstrous six-lane highway which is three storeys tall and 72ft wide and which will plough through the spine of the island?

It will plough through all three fault line zones of the island located in the sensitive Penang Hill and Paya Terubong hills, according to the environmental impact assessment (EIA).

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Penang aerial photo of highly devloped road system - from Joshua Woo

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:

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joshua Woo Penang larger

Editor’s note:  What we greatly appreciate in this article by Mr. Joshua Woo, a former Sebrang Perai Municipal councillor, and in a number of his public statements presenting and defending various aspects of the State/SRS PTMP, is the clarity and consistency of his arguments and reasoning.  One may or may not agree with his statements or analysis, but at least he sets out his position and his defense of state government policy clearly and consistently.  Thank you Mr. Woo.

MOBILITY is the backbone of civilisation.

Roads have been the main infrastructure for land travel throughout human history. The importance of roads in improving mobility is universally agreed by city planners. The disagreement is over how to use them. All modes of ground transportation – from horse carriages to bicycles, motorcycles, cars, buses and lorries – need roads.

Roads bring people together, expand empires, create cities and facilitate advancement of knowledge and discoveries.

Therefore, a feasible transport master plan that relieves traffic congestion in the short-term and is capable of increasing public mobility in the long-term needs to be supported by a good road network. Such a network is integral to public transportation.

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Penan CM Chow overlooking Penang

– By P. Gunasegaram . Penang, 2 May 2019.

QUESTION TIME | Another mega-project which is in the process of being finalised after the RM44 billion East Coast Rail Link and the RM140 billion development value Bandar Malaysia is the RM46 billion Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP).

As with the earlier two projects mentioned, there are a number of vital questions that remain unanswered over PTMP’s projects and the massive land reclamation project, reportedly worth an eye-popping RM70 billion (subsequently denied) to finance them. There is no clarity on how it will be undertaken, while there is a strong China element to this project as well, with a China firm being one of the beneficiaries of a major contract, as we shall see.

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A leading international transport policy expert looks at the PTMP and advises . . .

. . . Look to Singapore, not KL, for PTMP

KL mega traffic with LRT overhead

* Recommended reading for transport policy and practice in Penang . The Editor

Some friends from Penang sent me a bundle of documents on the Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) for me to look at last week. The following is my professional opinion, as a transport economist, on what has been proposed in the PTMP document.

Basically, I am not impressed with PTMP as it does not contain any specific strategy to increase the share of the public transport split that is very low in the case of Penang. More than 90% of the work trips in Penang are performed by private cars and less than 10% are performed by public transport.

There are strong reasons why the work of transport economists is needed in the formulation, planning, evaluation and implementation of any transport plan, rather than relying solely on politicians.

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THE RAPE OF PENANG: Rampant Environmental Destruction by out-of-control Speculators, Developers, State Government and Lobbies in 2019

–  by Kelvin Chan ,  Published on May 1, 2019

Aerial photography of Penang’s rapacious development in various locations in 2019.

 * We suggest you observe in full screen mode for full effect.

Other environment, nature and cultural videos by Mr.  Kelvin Chan at

COMMENTARY: Trevor Sibert: Penang Heritage Trust (PHT) Discussions.
Remarkable footage! Will certainly get your hair standing. Credit to the videographer.
It depicts the harsh reality that is plaguing Penang, overlooking sustainable development. The unnatural destruction of natural forest, hills and waterways. Putting lives in danger from landslides. Roads that are merely hanging off cliffs, being used by heavy vehicles too. The presence of unnatural giant pillars for elevated roads. Increasing the carbon footprint!
We are killing Penang!