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Penang Forum 4

Participants of Penang Forum 4 engrossed with presentations by various speakers

About a hundred concerned Penang residents attended Penang Forum 4 with the theme ‘Development and good governance’ on 18 December 2011 at the Caring Society Complex.

Penang Forum 4: Development and Good Governance

The Steering Committee of the Penang Forum is holding a public forum at the Caring Society Complex along Jalan Utama on 18 December from 9.00am to 5.00pm.

The Penang Forum is an informal network of some 40 Penang-based NGOs and concerned individuals who came together in April 2008 to chart a possible way forward for Penang. After the 2008 event, a Penang Forum Declaration was submitted to the state government calling for a new partnership with the Penang people based on the principles of popular participation, transparency, accountability, sustainability and social justice.

Since then, two other Penang Forum events have been held. Penang Forum 2 was held in March 2010 and passed two resolutions urging the Penang state government to revive local government elections as well as to disclose the Penang State Local Plans.

Penang Forum 3 was held in November 2010 when an election was conducted to promote local democracy and to determine the civil society nominees to serve as MPPP and MPSP councillors for the year 2011.

It is now time for us to hold Penang Forum 4 which will take a closer look at familiar problems, some of which have intensified over the last three years. We will be looking at the impact of property-centric development at the local level in particular the problems of high-density development, congestion, transport, environment and land reclamation.

These planning and sustainable development issues will be put in the context of the yet-to-be-enforced Local Plan. More than that, we will attempt to analyse all these issues from a broader perspective and come up with possible solutions.

Hence, we invite all Penangites to participate, share their views and make suggestions to realise a vision for a sustainable and environmentally friendly Penang. Those interested should register with Ravi at 012-5800030 or email vrpathy.cap@gmail.com stating name, organisational affiliation (if any), contact number and email address. (Registration fee is RM15, students and persons with disabilities, RM10. Lunch and two tea breaks will be provided, only if you register by 16 December.)

The following groups are represented on the Penang Forum Steering Committee, which meets periodically: Aliran, Badan Warisan Malaysia, Cepat, Consumers Association of Penang, Friends of Penang Botanic Garden, Good Governance and Gender Equality Society (3Gs), LLG Cultural Development Centre, Malaysian Nature Society, Penang Heritage Trust, Persatuan Orang-orang Cacat Anggota Malaysia, Sembang-Sembang, Suaram Penang, Taman Sri Nibong Residents Association, Tanjung Bungah Residents Association and Women’s Centre for Change.

Representatives of more Penang-based NGOs are expected to be present at the event proper on 18 December.

Presentations & Resources

The following topics were presented in Penang Forum 4. Please click on the titles to view the presentations:

Overview of Development in Penang by Tan Seng Hai

Cleaner and Greener? For Whom? by Anil Netto

Worsening Traffic & Related Problems by Low Swee Heong

Politics vs Good Governance by Lim Kah Cheng

Malaysia’s Centralized Federalism by Dr Francis Loh

Drivers of Development Mania by Dr Lim Mah Hui

Issues of Coastal Land Reclamation by Dr Leong Yueh Kwong

Fiscal policy & development by Dr Lim Mah Hui

Resolutions

Resolutions adopted by participants of Penang Forum 4: Development and Good Governance, 18 December 2011, Caring Society Complex, Penang

Recognising that the current Penang state government, the MPPP and the MPSP have increased their efficiency and effectiveness and introduced some praiseworthy measures such as the open-tender system, the No-Plastic Bags and Styrofoam policy, the Car-Free Days, the Penang Speakers’ Square

Appreciating that there is now more space for civil society groups and arts and culture to flourish,

Mindful of the present lopsidedness in federal-state powers and the limited financial resources of the state and local government,

However, alarmed by the increasing susceptibility of the government to the neo-liberal global and local forces pushing a certain top-down, mega projects-driven approach to development that often pays scant regard to sustainable development principles, and

Conscious of the need for a more people-centred, sustainable and greener approach to development based on the real needs of the people,

We, the participants of Penang Forum 4, call upon the Penang state government and municipal councils to

  1. implement a planned and more systematic, holistic and sustainable development process,
  2. institute a more participatory planning process, including organizing a series of workshops to educate and engage the public on draft Local Plans prior to their approval;
  3. impose a moratorium on high rise and high density buildings until such time that the Local Plans have been approved by the Penang people.
  4. address and resolve the problems of the various residents associations especially by implementing independent social, environmental and traffic impact assessments for new projects;
  5. formulate land-use and land reclamation policies that would ensure that the state maintains effective control over land-use planning and protects its long-term financial interests to serve the best interests of ordinary Penangites, in particular marginalised and vulnerable groups, including the provision of sufficient affordable housing, public parks, and social amenities;
  6. formulate innovative yet prudent independent fiscal policies that would allow the state/local government to generate and conserve financial resources for projects that would bring about the maximum long-term benefit to local communities;
  7. address the poor integration of transport within the town planning and land-use planning policies; and
  8. ensure the prompt enforcement of legislation for the violation of any laws or by-laws.