Monorail: Thanks, Mr PM, but no thanks

The Penang Forum Steering Committee has responded to Prime Minister Najib Razak’s pledge to put in place a monorail system for Penang if it is returned to power in Penang.

13 December 2012

Dear PM,

Thank you for taking the time in your busy schedule to come to Penang. We do realise that pre-election campaigning is necessary but may we clue you in a little about Penang people? Winning our hearts and minds involves not closing our roads and causing us great inconvenience while waiting for your motorcade to whiz by. It involves not enticing us with affordable housing only if BN wins and it involves not asking us to believe that UDA will not continue to renege on all their promises for Tanjung Tokong villagers as they have done for the last 20 years.

And most importantly it involves not throwing the monorail at us as an election gimmick. If you really cared about Penang, you would check with Penang people if this is what they want and need, you would investigate how the monorail idea came about to start off with. It was also thrown at Penang during BN times, without either public consultation or checking on suitability. It then had the highest ‘crony connections’ as it probably still has today.

Yes, our traffic is horrific, the Federal Government controls all public transportation including buses and taxis. Indeed, it took years of public pressure to even get an improved bus system. Yes, we would like a mass people-mover system but not a monorail. We do not need massive 3-storey piers, widespread and unnecessary tree cutting and ugly concrete rivers outside our windows. This seems to be an on-off legacy that has been left with us and no-one has questioned its origins. No public consultation was conducted, the system had political connections originally, it is not suitable for Penang and its ‘possible implementation’ should not be continued by either BN politicians or the opposition. Indeed the Melaka World Heritage Site is today threatened by a non-functioning, ugly, intrusive monorail.

What would be suitable for Penang would be an efficient on-the-ground, modern electric tram system, (indeed Melaka is proceeding to instal one as we speak). It requires much less intrusive works, it can go through George Town as well as the suburbs and such a system should be incorporated into the present bridge or the new one. Indeed the Penang Transport Master Plan – ready for implementation and having had public input – recommends the tram system or an improved bus system with dedicated bus lanes, as part of the Balanced Approach, against a Highways Approach which is viewed as non-sustainable and a recipe for further congestion. New roads should only be “introduced to facilitate the reallocation of road space from private vehicles to public transport”.

So, PM, thanks but no thanks. Please check with us in Penang first what we need instead of continuing the same old style of promising us what you think we should have, if we behave. Indeed what we would like would be for both the Federal and State governments not to politicise this problem and to coordinate their efforts and financial resources to ensure that this increasingly critical situation in Penang is resolved as urgently as possible in the most sustainable way.

Penang Forum Steering Committee

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2 Comments on “Monorail: Thanks, Mr PM, but no thanks

  1. Yes Mr PM please dont bother to pump in Federal fund into Penang, we dont need affordable housing because majority of Penangites are rich and we certainly dont need the Monorail because we can afford our own cars (not national cars btw) so no need for public transportation .

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  2. If I remember correctly, BN Penang promised an “LRT system in Penang by 2000” in its 1995 General Election manifesto. So much for that promise.

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