I represent Penang Forum, a coalition of key civil society organisations and individuals in Penang to support Bersih’s #VoteLokal campaign.
This is indeed a great call; we thank Bersih for initiating this campaign to highlight local and state issues.
For the current state election campaign, Penang Forum would like to call on all contesting parties and candidates to talk about their policy ideas and solutions to the longstanding local and state issues and to stop greenwashing the issues – green as in environmentally green and green as in fearmongering about the political “green wave”.
We want real and practical solutions for sustainable development; we can no longer accept the type of plan that sacrifices local communities to vested interests. Please put the interests of the people first, not your developer friends.
The traffic congestion is worsening due to the still broken public transport system in Penang, despite three terms of uninterrupted 15 years of DAP-led Pakatan Rakyat and then Pakatan Harapan state government.
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We also lost a decade of opportunity to properly develop our public transport after Halcrow’s transport masterplan was released and endorsed by the state government in 2013.
Why? The subsequent “Penang South Reclamation” plan by SRS Consortium, favoured by the state government, is a colossal mistake and a disaster in the making. Though reduced from three islands to one, Penang is still threatened with a very large island reclamation project in the south of Penang Island – and this has nothing to do with public transport anymore!
We understand that the caretaker government should not make major policy decisions during the election campaign. Nevertheless, projects which contradict the electoral promises of sustainable development should indeed be abolished!
Now that the controversial Petaling Jaya Dispersal Link (PJD Link) highway in Selangor has been cancelled, we demand that the new government cancel the “Penang South Island” land reclamation project entirely.
The new state government should also think beyond the Kuala Lumpur public transport model of “LRT” [overhead light rail] and monorail to solve Penang’s traffic problems. Even the MRT [mass rapid transit] has not saved KL!
Shockingly, so-called progressive Penang is the last state in Malaysia without a single gazetted local plan for either Penang Island or Seberang Perai. Penang voters and the general public want to have a greater say and better participation in the formulation of the local plans. Judge your politicians and governments not by what they say but by what they do!
And Penang voters, please ask the candidates important and difficult questions, and make a rational decision to cast your votes accordingly. The party logo itself is not the answer, we must do our own homework.
Lim Chee Han is a Penang Forum steering council member. He delivered this address at the launch of Bersih’s “#VoteLokal” campaign