Mediating Heritage Conservation and Urban Development in Contemporary Malaysia

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Cultural dissonance – Melaka

The more explored this question, as I dug deeper into my research it quickly became evident that there is a lot more to it than I had initially thought.

– Dr. Creighton Connally, Postdoctoral Fellow, Asian Urbanism Cluster, Asia Research Institute, NUS, Singapore

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Towards a New Mobility Agenda for Penang: October 2016

Penang Forum meeting

Penang Forum meeting

An open letter to Mr. Joshua Woo
Special Officer to Member of Parliament of Bukit Mertajam
Penang

Subject: – Commentary on your article appearing in the Penang Monthly October issue under the title “Better, Cheaper, Faster – Really?” – http://penangmonthly.com/better-cheaper-faster-really/

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WHERE IS PENANG GOING? : BETTER? CHEAPER? FASTER? – REALLY?

penang-traffic-scene-penang-monthly

– By Joshua Woo . In Penang Monthly, October 2016. http://penangmonthly.com/better-cheaper-faster-really/ 

This article by Mr. Joshua Woo, Special Officer to Member of Parliament of Bukit Mertajam, Penang, Malaysia provides a critical analysis of two radically different, hotly contested  approaches to sustainable transport planning and policy for the state of Penang, Malaysia.  Readers  not familiar with these challenges and critical differences in Penang are invited to consult  the background  postings here: (a) Penang Transport Master Plan (b) Penang – A Sustainable Transport Primer for a Battle of Ideas ;and  (c) The NGO Challenge, and (d) State Government response to NGOsYou may also find good value  in a three minute video which provides a very good, and very funny synopsis of the process currently underway: (e) The Three Minute Summary .                                        * Still hungry for more from all sides: work your way down the right hand menu to this site.

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Politicians and engineers are wrong about widening the roads.

politicians-and-engineers-are-wrong

Dr. Pojani in her lecture at Penang Heritage  of Friday entitled “Urban Transport Crisis in Small and Medium Size Developing Cities and the Effectiveness of Countermeasures” — at one point advises us to FOLLOW THE MONEY.  Now that’s an interesting comment and really makes me wish I had been with you. Here’s an example of how I interpret this counsel from my perspective as a strategic planner.

Thanks to Andrew we have a YouTube recording of the Dr. Pojani lecture – at https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10155333414145550&id=756525549 . Hopefully her presentation slides will be available shortly for all those of us who were not in Penang that day.

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SEDUCTIVE BUT DESTRUCTIVE GOALS: Congestion-free and affordable driving

Penang. Highway construction. Source: Reuters

Penang. Highway construction. Source: reuters

Urban transport decision-makers face huge pressures to keep driving uncongested and to keep it cheap. But take a look at cities that have worked long and hard to get free-flowing traffic and affordable driving. I doubt you will like what you see. This point was a central theme of Paul Barter’s chapter “Achieving Sustainable Mobility” which appears in The State of Asian and Pacific Cities 2015 jointly published late last year by UN-ESCAP and UN-HABITAT.

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RETHINKING NEW MOBILITY IN PENANG: The search for Values, Vision, Competence, Strategies, Tactics . . and Happiness.

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Malaysian scholar on Transport and Land Use comments on The Battle of Penang

SRS projects vs. Penang Forum call for new Transport Master Plan

better cheaper faster penang transport master plan 2Translated from Chinese interview of Ahmad Hilmy, transport and city planning scholar from the Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), which appeared in the China Press of August 13, 2016. Mr. Hilmi closes the interview by stating frankly his recommendation that “the government engage independent experts to study both the proposals by SRS and the NGOs, based on best scientific estimates of construction cost, acquisition cost, maintenance and operation cost, life cycle, opportunity costs and externalities, ridership, environmental and life quality impacts, cultural and heritage issues, impacts on vulnerable populations, etc., instead of keep on arguing.

For full background on the fast-growing struggle to create a sustainable transport system for Penang. we direct you to The NGO Challenge Dialogue at http://wp.me/p3GVVk-xJ. The picture is rather murky at first due to considerable obfuscation on the part of the current administration, but if you are interested please take the time to work your way down through that top right menu section also entitled NGO Challenge Dialogue. You make up your mind, and if you have any comments, corrections or suggestions these pages are entirely open.

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The Penang NGO Challenge Dialogue

reading a map - lostThe goal of this section of the S/P supporting websites is to provide easy access to anyone from within Penang or beyond in order to get a clear understanding of what is going on in the at-times painful path of contradictory  and withheld information on the topic of how best to go about creating a sustainable, efficient and equitable mobility system for all in Penang. It works like this.

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World Streets supports Sustainable Penang Transport Initiative

Penang BCF gent on bike beautiful

Last Minute News from Penang – 13 July 2016. 10:00 local time:

1.  Penang Forum today launched : Better, Cheaper, Faster Penang Transport Master Plan

2. Start with the sharp (hilarious) 2 minute introduction : https://youtu.be/6B9o1baUaP8

3. Now World Streets reader please sign  petition at www.bettercheaperfaster.my/votebcf

Penang BCF vote logo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Penang – A Sustainable Transport Primer for a Battle of Ideas

Penang traffic - no sign of public transport

Introduction

In the coming weeks we are going to be presenting here coverage of a highly interesting public discussion of differences of perspectives, values and finally of interests, which have at its core the same concerns of World Streets and our readers: namely the challenges of sustainable development, sustainable transportation and the context of the politics of transport in cities.

But let’s not try to get into the interesting details and ongoing work in this first editorial; instead let’s see if we can present a quick canned history of this small South East Asian city that is facing some hard choices that are important for the immediate future but also for the long term. There is a lot of passion surrounding these issues and differences, so in this we shall do our best to maintain what our friends over at Wikipedia so deftly call, NPOV – a neutral point of view.

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Question to members of Penang Transport Council reviewing and evaluating SRS master plan documents

Penang girl on bike - covered head

ON CYCLING:

CYCLING: We have been exchanging in our several group fora in support of the Sustainable Penang project thoughts about plans and actions in favor of more, better and safer cycling for all in Penang. And of course by this we mean specifically cycling for day to day transport, cycling for men, women and children getting from their particular A to B in all parts of Penang. (though it will be interesting as well to know of their coverage of leisure and touring cycling, etc.)

So, against this background we respectfully ask the following  . . .

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Mobilien: Better, Faster, Cheaper. . . than BRT (for Penang)

While Penang is thinking once again about its transportation arrangements, we are hearing a lot of late about BRT and tramways — and rightfully. Both a huge improvement over earlier proposals for a mad spaghetti mix of intrusive monorails, elevated LRT/LRV systems,  Sky Cabs hanging uselessly in the horizon, over-built road infrastructure projects  to serve and encourage yet  more car traffic, and a backbreaking  proposal for a sea tunnel that would bring yet more traffic into the island and in the process extend and multiply today’s traffic mess and associated inconveniencies

But before we make up our minds let’s also give a thought to another less well known mobility option, the Mobilien.  It may be just what you were looking for.

Paris Mobilien 1

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STEP: Sustainable Transport Environment for Penang (Archives)

Penang cener traffic growth

How were the leading minds  in Penang looking at the challenges of sustainable transport back at the turn of the century?  Did you know this? In many ways considerably better than is the case today. They were lucid, they had focus, and they stuck with the issues at hand..

To bring you into the picture (above)  let’s have a look at a presentation made back in 1999 introducing a collaborative civil society program at the time, called STEP – Sustainable Transport Environment for Penang. If you look closely you will note that just about all of the issues and recommendations that were being discussed back then, are every bit as topical today. But somehow we lost almost two decades.

What happened? Why did not this enlightened program take off at the time.  We shall be looking at that closely in the coming weeks and seeing if we can learn at least some of the lessons of the past.

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New Mobility Agenda needed for Penang

Eric-Britton-recommendations

(The following article appeared on 6 February 2016  in the Penang social justice blog anilnetto.com . The original is available here  .)

Our guest contributor is Eric Britton, a sustainable transport expert who visited Penang a couple of years ago. He says, “The priority is not to further expand supply of inefficiently used infrastructure, but rather to manage and use it better.”  This was written in December 16 2013 before the latest Penang transport master plan.

Eric writes:

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Sustainable Penang/New Mobility Agenda Publications

man reading newspapers newsstandFor those of you who do not know it, we do have a “publication arm” that works rather effectively, a collaborative blog which we set up in 2013 during my first visit to Penang, under the title Sustainable Penang: Toward a New Mobility Agenda. It is freely available at https://sustainablepenangagenda.wordpress.com/.  A section of the home page is shown here, and to get the feel for how it works I recommend that you start with . . . START.

I mention this now because the blog invites contributions from those with useful knowledge or questions to share with our 173 international readers, while each posting is picked up by parallel social media sites on Facebook ( https://www.facebook.com/SustainablePenang , 153 readers), LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/groups/5084715), and Twitter (https://twitter.com/SustainPenang). Selected articles are also posted in World Streets (https://worldstreets.wordpress.com/), for the attention of our 4403 international readers).

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Other useful Sustainable Penang references

ffv sp excellent cover happy and running oeds

  1. MISSION: Sustainable Penang: Toward a New Mobility Agenda homepage – https://sustainablepenang.wordpress.com/the-mission/
  2. PUBLIC ENQUIRY/Brainstorming report of Nov. 2013 – https://goo.gl/0BgurW
  3. FACEBOOK-http://www.facebook.com/SustainablePenang
  4. TWITTER – https://twitter.com/SustainPenang
  5. LINKEDIN – https://www.linkedin.com/groups/5084715
  6. #BETTER PENANG at http://www.betterpg.com/
  7. S/P PUBLIC LIBRARY at https://goo.gl/gJTJZD
  8. CIVIL SOCIETY IN Penang (Draft for review) – http://wp.me/p3GVVk-om
  9. ONLINE 24/7 Open Town Hall Meeting (Vol. 1, 2) – https://goo.gl/DdWumT
  10. COMMENTS/QUESTIONS: penang@ecoplan.org. Skype – newmobility

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On the Sustainable Penang 24/7 Citizen Forum and the divergence of ideas

Dear Friends and members of this open public forum,

We are now getting into the true nitty-gritty fundamentals here and I would not like to leave this behind us too quickly.  The disagreements are creative and as far as I am concerned a critical part of the reason we are here.  Here are a few points I would like to share with you.

  1. SELF-ORGANIZED SYSTEM. First, this is — as we can see if we just look — an example of a self-organized system. Yes, LTH had the brilliant — the word is not too strong – idea of inviting this group’s 24/7 open conversations, and as I think we all pretty much understood on the topic of “Sustainable Penang “, and within that broad frame the issues and contradictions that exist and that are holding back the necessary move to a well thought-out, thoroughly professional strategic vision and plan of sustainable transportation, land use and public spaces in Penang.

But in self-organizing systems, what happens is that the various participants express a variety of opinions and desires on their particular areas of expertise and concern, and gradually a– and with a little luck — the whole complicated mechanism of discussion and exchanges lurches to uncover opportunities and priorities for a truly Sustainable Penang .  And that is pretty much what is happening here and which you can see clearly if you page through the full record of the discussions, either directly here (takes time) or more easily on the first of a series of regular updates on these exchanges which anyone can freely follow through our Public Library at https://goo.gl/gJTJZD.

All that said, what I think is going to happen here is that within this discussion we are going together to lurch toward a number of greater truths, together and at times uncomfortably.

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Op-Ed: Reforming Malaysia’s transport mess

malaysia penang heavy trafficThis Op-Ed has been contributed by Dr.Kua Kia Soong and provides a brilliant independent critical overview of what the title unambiguously suggests is “Malaysia’s transport mess”. While it examines the overall situation and climate from the vantage of Malaysia as a whole, it is no less relevant for the circumstances defining transport policy and practice in Penang. We thank Dr. Soong for his permission to publish the entire article as follows. This is an important piece to stimulate critical thinking and informed action in a sector which has been lagging badly and at high costs to the citizens of Penang and Malaysia. His closing sentence resumes the situation quite nicely: “The Malaysian public is tired of being told to be patient and that we can get our jam tomorrow… We want our jam today!”

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