GROWING CONCERN: Councillor tells why Penang folk are protesting
GEORGE TOWN: A PENANG Island Municipal councillor who was recently ordered not to speak about hillslope development delivered a hard-hitting speech on Penang's current situation yesterday.
Dr Lim Mah Hui said there had been a spate of protests by residents over various building projects and that such incidents were not isolated but had become widespread over the past few years.
He said the Penang people were being pushed to voice their concerns and anger through protests as they felt something was wrong with the planning and approval process of various projects.
"People feel they are being marginalised, ignored and pushed over.
"If we are serious about promoting democracy, we must begin at the local council where people should be given the chance and encouraged to participate in decisions that affect their lives," he said.
He said past incidents showed inconsistency in the process.
"Suddenly, a 30-storey apartment is approved in a low-rise residential area where individual house owners have difficulty getting permission to build three-storey houses.
"It would have been bad enough if such incidents were limited to one or two. But when they appear in increasing frequency, it is a sign something is not quite right."
Lim noted residents were beginning to feel the planning and approval process in Penang was "top-down, bureaucratic and developer-centric, with little concern for the interests of ordinary citizens and residents".
"I suggest the council hold consultative meetings with the public to explain the possible impact of major projects and get their input and feedback before approval," Lim said.
At a press conference after the council meeting, council president Patahiyah Ismail said Lim's views would be discussed before giving him a written reply.