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Pearl of the Isle – Will Progress bring Destruction or Evolution? January 6, 2007

Posted by drowmage in Drowmage's rants, Penang.
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Caught a little article on The Star today : Bleak future for Penangites

PENANG has grown at an alarming pace. So far, the charms of the place, thankfully, are still quite intact.

However, with buildings going up fast in the name of progress, we have a bleak future.

Penang island doesn’t have much space left. We have a ferry service and a bridge that connects us to the mainland. This is our lifeline and a minor disruption of bridge services creates chaos on both sides of the bridge.

Building another bridge will ease the traffic situation but it will choke our little island.

It’s a short-term solution bringing long-lasting damage to the island.

Penang has much usable land on the mainland. If better jobs are available there, people will remain on the mainland.

Developers are not giving us our breathing space. They are jamming every nook and corner of the island with buildings.

The worst example is Gurney Drive where 30-storey condos are springing up just for profit.

The Drowmage is obliged to agree with the writer on this perspective. The tiny island is the Drowmage’s hometown, with memories of how it was blooming with trees, nice seaside views and filled with less cars. You could drive around and still feel like there’s a nice combination of old and new in the buildings – an old heritage mansion, a row of war-time houses nestling between two office buildings and modern hotels.

Regretfully, the island is getting cramped. Every Chinese New Year, I dread going back. The island is filled to the brim with its original townsfolk visiting their families for the festivities, and yet there are enough obnoxious tourists from other parts of the states who clog the streets with their BMWs and big fancy cars, talking on the top of their voices and having little regard for the people.

The other day, a friend commented “Penang needs development in order for our lifestyles to improve.”

I don’t disagree. It’s a brilliant notion. But Penang isn’t just a tiny island lost in the Straits of Malacca. The island happens to be an extension of the mainland, where Penang’s other half is on the mainland of Malaysia itself. Partially still jungle, partially still barren land, and partially filled with housing estates and factories – it seems to the Drowmage that there’s still plenty of space left to be used.

So why are they targeting the island? Why are they tearing down houses to build horrid condominiums, as we try to emulate the lifestyles of the Hong Kong dwellers in their box-like environment? Why are they cramming another damn mall down our throats??

Oh wait. I remember. We’re still the pet of the nation. We need to have our hands held as we cross the road to success. For in order for us to be considered successful, we need to have our island turned in what Kuala Lumpur looks like. A concrete jungle. Such progress, with jams, broken down train stations, lousy service… I see.

So therefore it justifies the loss of our heritage and our culture. It justifies the rape of the hills in order to build ugly condominiums. And yes! it justifies us forgetting from where we came from, a unified and diversified island, where everyone knows everyone, in order to step up in the world.

Tomorrow the Drowmage will start with a brighter look at things – the snotty and exclusive GIFA awards which happened last month.