Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Penang land reclamation: ‘The incompetent leading the unwilling to do the unnecessary’

Our guest writer today is Eric Britton, who discusses the land reclamation in southern Penang island, which is linked to the over-the-top SRS proposal for the Penang transport masterplan.

Step 1: Dump the land reclamation plan which has no good reason for existing. It is a rapacious, wrong-minded insult to the people of Penang, to the environment, nature, culture, wellbeing and way of life. You are being held hostage by your government for no good reason. And certainly, not that of needing more money to finance a ridiculous “transport master plan” that cannot stand independent international inspection.

Again and again and again, when it comes to “transport master planning” in Penang, it seems as if we always end up circling the same old structurally wrong thing. And in the process allowing the undertrained proponents of the Big Bang “solution” of the present government package to occupy the centre of the debate. This is a huge mistake.

It is my position that the starting place for responsible and effective transport planning and policy in Penang is NOT to link it to land deals — but to look at the challenge in and of itself from a well-defined, explicit strategic perspective. Some will say that they do not have enough money to accomplish their objectives — which quickly become wild, pharaonic, costly and not related to the real problems and priorities at hand. Remember, transport for people and not for cars (infrastructure included)

Here is the simple question that the policy-makers need to ask and resolve:

(a) What is it that they can accomplish for the people of Penang,
(b) working with available resources in order to
(c) alleviate the day-to-day mobility problems of the people of Penang – with
(d) especial attention to the needs of the poorer half of society and the vulnerable populations (elderly, disabled, poor, isolated, non-car owners, and
(e) above all, women of all ages and stations of life, and all that
(f) in the coming four years, ie, 2017-2020.

How hard is that? And why is no one minding this store? Please someone, tell me why this is not being done.

Prof Emeritus Eric Britton
Sustainable Development, Economy and Democracy
Institut Supérieur de Gestion, Paris

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