Penang Forum, a coalition of 14 Penang-based NGOs, had a closed-door meeting with Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng yesterday to discuss pressing issues affecting the state, reports Susan Loone of Malaysiakini.
According to the forum’s steering committee member Anil Netto, the “frank” three-hour dialogue touched on a broad range of social and environmental issues.
These issues include sustainable development, density and congestion problems; public transport, new road infrastructure and the proposed Penang Transport Masterplan, said Netto.
Controversial issues such as the development of sPICE (subterranean Penang International Convention and Exhibition Centre and Penang Hill were brought to the table.
“Affordable housing, land reclamation and availability of green spaces were discussed by the 13 NGO representatives,” added Netto (right).
“The activists acknowledged positive changes in Penang, for example, improvements in cleanliness, the ‘no plastic bags’ initiative and the open tender system,” said Netto in his blog.
The NGO representatives included those from Penang-based social reform group Aliran, Malaysian Nature Society, Consumers Association of Penang and Penang Heritage Trust.
State executive council members Chow Kon Yeow and Lim Hock Seng, Seberang Perai municipal council chairperson Maimunah Mohd Sharif and Penang Hill Corporation general manager Lee Kah Choon represented the state government at the meeting.
NGOs have come under scrutiny recently for keeping mum on important issues affecting Penangites, but several groups had denied quietening down in the state.
In an article with the heading, ‘Suddenly, it’s disconcertingly quiet on the NGO front’, published by New Straits Times on Oct 9, “a veteran social activist” was quoted as saying, among other things, that these groups have been keeping mum on the issues.