The chief minister will face some tough questions on policies affecting Penang’s environment and way of life.
Online chatter about the public dialogue has been picking up since it was announced last week, with many commentators urging the NGOs to be tough with Lim to ensure that his government does not sacrifice Penang’s natural charms and traditions at the altar of material development.
The dialogue is organised by the Penang Forum, a coalition of 15 Penang-based civic groups that include Aliran, Consumers Association of Penang (CAP), Penang Heritage Trust and the local chapters of Suaram and Women’s Centre for Change.
The topic for this Saturday’s session is “A Vision for an International Liveable City”.
Although the event is open to the public, Barisan Nasional is not expected to send representatives, according to Penang Gerakan vice-chairman Wong Mun Hoe.
Nevertheless, Wong said it would be interesting to see how Lim would handle the situation, considering the critical nature of the local NGOs, which are known to have strong views on such issues as consumer rights and the integrity of the natural environment.
Wong fears, however, that some participants might be intimidated by Lim.
“Who would not be?” he said. “Lim is a populist leader who is a hero in the eyes of some quarters.
“Lim also takes things personally. If a person were to scold him, Lim would cut him down to size.”
Wong also said Lim had stopped listening to his political opponents even if they meant well.
“This is where the NGOs can come in and raise pertinent questions, including concerns over rapid development, affordable housing and costs of living here.”
People’s Green Coalition coordinator Khim Pa lauded Lim for his willingness to engage the NGOs.
Khim is looking forward to a discussion on possible legislation that would help preserve the natural environment and avoid over-development.