Dear friends, we have a wonderful resource here with Whatsapp Sustainable Penang in the form of a searchable database of all of our exchanges since the generous creation of this great collaborative tool by no less than the formidable Engineer Lim Thean Heng all the way back there on December 14, 2015.
Just in case you didn’t notice it the transcript of all of these conversations which I have collected and inspected in searchable form run for more than half a million words of what . . . Not just idle chat, but rather the exchanges of a conserved citizenry about the sustainability challenges of Penang in all its dimensions, including of course the running battle of the Penang Transport Master Plan .
My point is this: if anyone wants to understand the concerns and hopes of any place, this is the kind of information which needs to be carefully consulted and reflected on because in modern democracies we need to know what the citizens think and what they want. This is no easy job, but tools like this have great potential. But this is not work for anyone who is lazy or who thinks that listening to people is not one of the most critical aspects of government in our 21st century.
Just to get a feel for how this can work, let’s take an example: Chose your search term, pop it in the little magnifying glass that is the search box and at that point the search engine will query the entire content and call up those containing the indicated term or phrase. You will then see in the right-hand box indications of date and identification number of the writer, and if you let the cursor hover over it you will see the first few lines from the chat. If you click on these shall be taken to the full entry.
Your choice of keywords can include either the names of someone participating in our forum, or whatever specific terms you wish to interrogate, for example: trees, climate, parking, chief minister, handicap, monorails, taxis, etc.
Obviously this is a rather painstaking process but in its own way that is what research is all about.
I find this to be a potentially extremely useful research tool both in terms of specific topics and considerations and over all the way in which we participate and share our thoughts.
Hope this is useful to at least some of you.
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LTH reports: (Full article to follow)
As of now, 184 (about 45 are females), comprising State Gov executive members, State Assembly politicians, Members of Parliament, Local Government councilors, mayor and different department directors and officers (planning, engineering, architectural, heritage), Federal ministries officers, expressway private operators, members of different NGOs, heritage, PwD, academia and professional bodies, manufacturers association, train and bus operators, players and regulators, transit transport industry players, some from Singapore, England, Germany, France, Hong Kong, Italy, Pakistan, USA, developers, media people ans even the prospective PDP people,
The discourse very quickly widened from discussions on transport issues (integrated road network system for achieving TMP’s guiding principle “Moving People Not Cars” for long term sustainability versus current private vehicle-centric practice for economic growth) to a host of other intricately-related fields like population growth and housing needs, economic vibrancy, public utilities, amenities and recreation,social justice, public consultation, participatory democracy, tourism and service industry, Georgetown world heritage site management and protection issues, quality of life, land reclamation, social impact to displaced communities, environment impact and climate change.
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About the editor:
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Bio: Educated as an international development economist, Eric Britton is an American political scientist, teacher and sustainability activist who has worked on missions and advisory assignments on all continents. Professor of Sustainable Development, Economy and Democracy at the Institut Supérieur de Gestion (Paris), he is also MD of EcoPlan Association, an independent advisory network providing strategic counsel for government and business on policy and decision issues involving complex systems, social-technical change, civil society and sustainable development. Founding editor of World Streets: The Politics of Transport in Cities | See Britton online at https://goo.gl/9CJXTh and @ericbritton