This is an article written in response to Nisha Sharma’s letter published in Free Malaysia Today entitled “Penang’s Curse”
You may be forgiven for your lack of in-depth knowledge re Penang since you left a long time ago and only come back on holidays and are inconvenienced by traffic jams.
Civil society groups are totally supportive of public transportation. In fact we were the ones urging the set up of the Penang Transport Council -evidenced by the calling up of many members from civil society to sit in the council. It led to the Halcrow Report which was meant to be the basis for future transport planning of Penang.
The current PTMP is a total bastardisation of the Halcrow Report. The PTMP is not based on Penang’s needs but on developers’ profits. It prioritises elevated highways cutting through Penang’s hills and various highly over-priced systems that are not suitable for Penang.
The cloth should be cut to fit the wearer. We are an island of less than one million blessed with hills, rivers and trees. Give us a system that suits us.
All civil society wants and what we fight for is an efficient at-grade ART bus or tram – cheaper, faster low hanging fruits. We want policies discouraging cars, visionary planning that is not linked to land reclamation and housing developers.
Construction costs are among the highest the country has seen. Does it not ring any bells for you?
Why persist with a exorbitant tunnel we can’t afford, why tunnel through hills when we can’t manage an elevated highway with no death and disaster?
Penang is being sold to the highest bidder offering the most audacious unsuitable and most expensive schemes. Instead of the vibrant Penang that you think we will get with PTMP you will see a state crushed by debt and suffering Penangites.
By: L.L. Loh-Lim