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‘Produce blueprint on IIL city’

 | July 25, 2012

Lim Guan Eng has been asked to explain in more detail the plan to turn George Town into an international, intelligent and liveable city.

GEORGE TOWN: A prominent civil society umbrella body wants Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng to produce a blueprint to spell out his vision to transform George Town into an international, intelligent and liveable (ILL) city.

Penang Forum, a non-partisan coalition of Penang-based civil society groups, coordinator Lim Mah Hui said despite constant rhetoric statements on it, the state government had yet to unveil details of its plans to realise the vision.

Pointing out that a vision must have concrete ideas, facts and objectives to manifest an illustration on international, intelligent and liveable city, he said so far Guan Eng’s vision had been ambiguous.

He said Penangites needed to know what constituted an international, intelligent and liveable city according to the chief minister’s vision.

He pondered whether Guan Eng’s vision of an international city was about international visitors, corporate business establishments or the creation of a cosmopolitan society.

He also wondered what were the attributes and features of the intelligent city.

Apart from installing free WiFi service all over the state, he said Penangites could not see much.

“Until today Penang citizens can’t see any concrete ideas of the vision. The chief minister should spell out more about his vision in a blueprint,” he told reporters.

Lim was speaking at a press conference here today on the forum’s upcoming public dialogue session themed: “Vision of an International Liveable City with Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.”

Also present were the dialogue session’s chairman Anwar Fazal, Penang Forum steering committee member Lim Kah Cheng, Women’s Centre for Change (WCC) programme director Prema Devaraj and Tanjung Bungah Residents Association chairman Leong Yueh Kwong.

The dialogue session would be held at the Caring Society Complex in Jalan Utama here between 2pm and 5pm on Saturday, Aug 4.

Lim said Guan Eng had confirmed his participation in the session.

Lim, also an island municipal councillor, said the dialogue was timely in the wake of growing criticisms against hill slope developments, incessant erection of high rise structures in established and low density areas, and demolition of buildings with historical and architectural value.

Of late, the state government had also been criticised on land reclamation and worsening traffic congestion.

“All this is related to planning and approval processes by the state and local governments, not federal government. Penangites have expressed their concern over these processes,” said Lim.

Engage locals

Meanwhile, Anwar said the authorities should involve and engage local residents, especially the civil society groups, in the decision-making process.

“Penang has a strong history of local democracy being the first state to hold local council polls in the country.

“Thus, there should be more participatory democracy to encourage local citizens to engage more constructively with politicians and government officials on issues affecting their daily lives,” he said.

Leong, meanwhile, lamented the lack of open spaces in residential areas in the current development trend.

“We are getting taller and bigger buildings and complexes on a small plot. But there are no open ground for recreational activities,” he said.

He rebuked the authorities for overlooking the provision for open space ratio of four acres per 1,000 people under the local policy.

“The beaches are all now closed to public while the hills are over-developed,” he added.


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