The idea for the Forum Peduli Rakyat came from something that is most lacking in our society today – that is the ability of people to participate in public decisions. The forum was a collective effort organised by Penang Forum and individuals; to provide an open platform for citizens to articulate their concerns where anyone can participate regardless of affiliations.
The Penang Forum held a press conference on Feb 12 to notify members of the public about the event; and just a day before the press conference (Feb 11) personal invitations were emailed to 40 assemblymen and about 10 MPs in Penang to attend the forum as well.
The day of the forum saw the hall in Dewan Sri Pinang packed with people, attended by about 200 participants. Out of about 20 speakers, only 5 were from Penang Forum. Each speakers were given 5 minutes to present their cases with a time for Q&A at the end of the session.
The topics were wide ranging; from water management in Penang, plastic waste in Sungai Petani, sand mining in Perak, acquaculture and destruction of mangrove in Ayer Tawar, overcrowding of hostels for foreign workers, stop human trafficking, Tolak Tambak PSR, assessment hike, affordable housing, Save Mount Erskine Road, cukai pintu, climate change, tackling food waste, Pan Island Link, public transport; to the PTMP debt, flood vulnerability in Penang, Tolak Tambak Butterworth Waterfront, current agricultural issues, hill slope risks, marine mammals, and deforestation.
The core of this forum is anchored on the notion of democracy – that is to have a platform for different opinions to be shared and heard on the state government’s development plan, as well as existing and future policies. While efforts has been made to include the appointed and elected officials to participate in the forum, it has been given unsavoury treatment by 10 elected assemblymen who told the press that, “Invitations to the forum seems to be more of a publicity stunt in order to trap and tarnish the Penang state government.” (Source)
Regardless, the inaugural Forum Peduli Rakyat 2020 was a success and participants shared that they had learned some valuable insights on what is happening around in Penang. Many expressed that there is a need to rethink what form of development is truly sustainable for Penang – and challenge the current dogmatic but ambiguous definition of development that which only hurts Penang and its people on the hindsight.
1. Prof Dr Chan Ngai Weng, WaterWatch Penang – Water Management Challenges in Penang
2. Dr Tneoh Shen Jen, Adviser, Persatuan Tindakan Alam Sekitar (PTAS) – Environmental Damage from Recycling of Imported Waste in Sungai Petani
3. Zikrullah Ismail, Pertubuhan Warisan Tanah & Teroka Bandar (TEROKA) – Asrama Pekerja Asing Selatan Pulau Pinang
4. James Lochhead, Penang Stop Human Trafficking Campaign – Aspire Penang
5. Nazri Ahmad, Persatuan Nelayan Pulau Pinang – Tolak Tambak Penang South Reclamation
6. Kader Abdul, Respons Rakyat app – Make Yourself Heard
7. Lee KN, president, Persatuan Pembayar Cukai Pulau Pinang/ Ratepayers Penang – The Assessment Hike
8. Kartik, Jaringan Perumahan – Housing Affordability
9. Shirlyne Byrne, resident – Save Mount Erskine Road
10. Nelson Phang – Cukai Pintu
11. Ahmad Izzudin, Klima Action Utara Malaysia – Climate Emergency
12. Calvin Chan, Green Hero – Tackling Food Waste
13. Eric Cheah – Pan-Island Link
14. Zulfikar Aziz, PeTua – Public Transport
15. Dr Lim Mah Hui – PTMP: Drowning Penangites In Debt
16. Dr Kam Suan Pheng, Penang Hills Watch – Flood vulnerability in Penang
17. Nur Munira Azman, Shorebirds Peninsular Malaysia Project / Malaysian Nature Society – Aquaculture Zone at Teluk Ayer Tawar Coast
18. Mazlan bin Abdul, Persatuan Nelayan Kawasan Seberang Perai, Unit Bagan Ajam – Tolak Tambak Butterworth Waterfront
19. Rexy Prakash Chacko, Penang Hills Watch – Hill Slope Risks
20. Sophine Tann, Vice President 2, Peka Malaysia – Final solutions?