Anil Netto describes his hopes for Penang in the coming year.
The best 2020 gift for the people of Penang would be for the state government to refrain from signing the ‘project delivery partner’ agreement with SRS Consortium.
This is simply because the project is too expensive for Penang, it won’t solve the transport congestion in the state and it will cause enormous ecological damage.
Instead, the state government should focus on improving the bus service across the state (more buses and better supporting infrastructure eg more comfortable bus stops, covered walkways, pavements and feeder buses connecting residential areas to the main bus routes) and expanding the ferry service.
All reclamation projects must be halted simply because the total fertility rate in Penang is now only 1.4 children per woman – this is well below the population replacement rate of 2.1 children. So there is less pressure on land.
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Halting future reclamation projects will allow the present glut in high-end property to ease over time. Meanwhile, we should focus on building homes below RM200,000 (either for sale or for rent) for the ordinary people using creative building techniques and designs.
We should also focus on enhancing our food security to curb rising food prices. So we should protect our farm land and precious coastal fishing waters – instead of destroying them for property development and land reclamation (to create artificial islands for the wealthy).
What we need is development that is balanced between the island and mainland as well as sustainable development that will strengthen our resilience against climate change.