Do we need another reclamation project?

When we drive along Gurney Drive, we now see a new stretch of land which is reclaimed and almost ready for new developments. We are now expecting a beautiful wharf, seafront park, public space and a highway to ease the traffic in the near future. The Government has announced that Gurney Wharf is expected to complete in August 2021.

In the northern area, there is the on-going Seri Tanjung Pinang reclamation which is initially part and parcel of the Gurney Wharf, which will see the creation of a new little island.

And we know that there is also the controversial mega land reclamation project in the south of the island, known as the Penang South Reclamation which will see a future three man-made islands which is approximately 4,500 acres in size.

Don’t forget the north of Butterworth, where the deal is inked for Rayston Consortium to reclaim about 1,600 acres of land. 

And just when we ended the Movement Control Order (MCO) period, the Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow announced the plans to reclaim lands off Bayan Lepas which stretches from around Queensbay Mall until Sultan Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah Bridge. Wonder if the Pulau Jerejak will then become part of the land? 

It is surely a hope for many Penangites including myself to see developments in our home state. Who wouldn’t want to live in a developed city that could provide us various infrastructures and facilities that we need? 

But we are currently having Seri Tanjung Pinang, Gurney Wharf and the north of Butterworth still in the process of reclamation which is not completed yet. 

And it is pretty obvious that the State Government is pushing hard for the approval of the Penang South Reclamation.

These huge reclamations which are still on-going and a potential three new islands coming up which nobody knows how it will exactly impact our surroundings, and yet the Government is planning for a new one at Bayan Lepas?

We should wait for the completion of the existing reclamations and let the professionals assess the true impact towards the geography, livelihood of the citizens as well as the environment before we proceed for the next reclamation. We can have Environmental Impact Assessment, Traffic Impact Assessment or whatever papers it can be, I doubt humans will be able to predict an outcome perfectly. We are not God nor fortune tellers. Even Doctor Strange from Marvel predicts 14 million different outcomes of the End Game.

Are we in such a need for land banks in Penang now? If we read the data about Penang’s property for year 2019, it doesn’t seem that we are in extreme need of lands that we need to expedite the land reclamation.

Based on the property market data for 2019 4th quarter, there are 13,391 unsold residential units, 1,154 unsold commercial units and 93 unsold industrial property. While this may not solely justify whether we really need to reclaim lands or not, it can be a good reason for us to understand the property demand, and especially with the Covid-19 pandemic that has caused economical challenges everywhere. I think it is too early to decide on new reclamation projects when we have not completed the current ones.

I take our day-to-day livelihood as an example, how can we determine how much food we need to order for lunch and dinner when we haven’t even finished eating our breakfast? We might have ordered too much or too little by then.

Come to think of it, for the past one decade, Penang has been too focused on mega projects that have been left hanging, in just the planning stage. Penang Transport Master Plan, the Penang South Reclamation and high-end condominiums are the few projects to be mentioned. 

Why don’t we change our focus towards sustainable developments instead? Penang can work to be the frontline state in the battle for climate change and environmental-friendly developments, As I have said before, the green industry is able to drive our economy.

This article has been published in Mandarin in Kwong Wah Yit Poh dated 30th June 2020.

A Green Deal to assist Malaysia’s economy

The world including Malaysia is facing or going to face perhaps one of the worst unemployment challenges in history.

The Department of Statistics has stated that the nation’s unemployment figures have risen 16.2 per cent in the month of March 2020, which is approximately 610,000 unemployed people. Although we do not have the figures for the subsequent months, we do not have to say much as we have been hearing companies closing down, small businesses deciding to stop operating, foreign companies pulling back from Malaysia. The figures will just keep increasing.

The Government has since then initiated plans to revive the job sector, such as incentives for companies that hire or sustain their employees. Or plans to re-skill and upskill workers. These are all very typical ways of assisting the businesses and keeping people employed.

But have we thought about creating jobs, assisting the economy, but sustaining our environment too? Have we thought about taking this opportunity to generate and boost the green economy? Why don’t we push for a Green Deal for Malaysia? 

In my previous article, I have written that Covid-19 is a prequel to the global climate crisis. I cannot deny that today’s priority is to prevent and to cure the people from Covid-19, but we must not also forget that climate change is an imminent danger. Charitable organisations and people are kind to donate foods to the poor during the pandemic, but they forgot that they are using single-use plastics in their packaging. And we haven’t even counted the delivery packages that we ordered every day. I believe that amounts to tens of thousands of plastic packaging daily. That is something we can avoid, but we forgot.

Back to the Green Deal for Malaysia, the Government must introduce a package that addresses the financial crises as well as the environmental issues that we are facing. 

The Government can take the lead to invest in the development of alternative energies. The research and development efforts will create jobs for scientists and engineers. Development of the infrastructure for the alternative energy also generates jobs for the skilled workers. 

When the purported leader of all nations, the United States of America, with a President that decides to protect the coal industry which creates carbon footprint; why not Asia lead the way in alternative energy?

We know that our country’s economy depends a lot on oil, but what if Petronas invest part of its profits into the development of alternative energy? That would be a positive step for an oil & gas company. Besides, oil is a resource that will end someday. And that someday, we will need renewable energy, why not do it now, than to wait until it is critical.

The Government should also introduce low-carbon infrastructure redevelopment. Instead of using the same old materials, public infrastructures that need to be redeveloped should be done in an environmental-friendly manner. To save more cost and reduce carbon footprint in the long-run, we have to invest efficiently. These would create more jobs when the redevelopment efforts are initiated, but at the same time, we have to avoid the cronies to profit from it.

This can also include overhauling our transportation system to an energy-efficiency method. By systematically changing our public transportation to an energy-friendly system, we will need employees to implement the initiatives. If we provide incentives for the automobile industry to research environmental-friendly cars, we will need more engineers, skilled workers to run this project.

The Government can also provide extra financial incentives for startups that focus on the green economy. New ideas and business will then generate more jobs. This could also lead to the encouragement of social enterprises. 

Now, some may think this is such a huge effort and it is too big for a country like Malaysia to implement. But if we don’t imagine, we won’t even start to work for it. Nobody has ever thought that Malaysia would ever have one of the tallest skyscrapers in the world, nobody would have thought Malaysia would be able to send their man to space. 

Can we begin to imagine a Green Deal for Malaysia?

This article has been published in Mandarin in Kwong Wah Yit Poh dated 16th June 2020.

Now is the moment to make use of the crisis for a change

It’s coming to almost three months when Malaysia begins to face the dangers of Covid-19. It could be one of the most difficult challenges faced by Malaysians since World War 2, racial riots and any economic recession that has happened. For my generation and those younger ones, it is definitely the most challenging time of our lives. 

Across the three months period, I’ve been listening to stories of people and as the Movement Control Order (MCO) eases to Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO), I went out to know more about the situation, and playing my role as part of the community.

I went to a children’s home, the caretaker told me about one of the children’s family who has suffered from domestic violence. A single mother who has been jobless since the early of this year, and she has 6 kids to feed. With the pandemic currently happening, and without resources, she couldn’t do anything much other than depending on the assistance of the neighbours. But how long can she get the help that she needs?

A close friend who has been doing quite well in a multinational company and expects to have the opportunity to grow in the company suddenly finds out that they decided to close down the operations in Malaysia. What’s next for him? Start all over again? Some may argue that if he has the right mindset and character, he will survive. Yes, it is true, but it is also a setback for him.

Another friend in Kuala Lumpur who was delighted to know that he has passed his job interview in March, resigned from his current job and expect to begin a new career soon. Little did he know that the MCO began a couple of days later. The former company accepted his resignation and the new company decided to reject him before he managed to sign the job offer.

In the neighbouring state in Kedah, a woman that I know was preparing to retire in just a couple of months. The pandemic has caused her to fork out a huge portion of her savings for her family. With that, she ended up cancelling her retirement plans, and maybe having to work for another couple of years.

The boss of a small local restaurant that I have frequented recently told me that they are barely making RM100 a day. The monthly revenue that they’ve earned is not even enough to cover the cost of rental. 

These true stories are proof that a pandemic does not discriminate. It hits people of all ages, race, religion and background. It is a crisis that affects everyone in the world. It begins with a health crisis and followed by an economic crisis. 

But as the chinese proverb says, every crisis can be turned into an opportunity, 危机就是转机.

In 1982, even Milton Friedman, an economist, wrote: “only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions are taken depending on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable.”

The humans seem like they have not learned from the past. The pandemic has shown that science is hard enough. And our politics is making it harder. US and China blaming each other and is in a war of words, who knows when it will turn into a real war? In Malaysia, the battle for power and position has never ended.

In this moment of crisis, we need to shift our focus in making real changes; and not changes of power and position. We need a change of policies that will assist the people from the stories that I have mentioned. They are largely people who belong in the B40 and M40 community. We have to avoid the abuse of power to turn the crisis into a darker path as seen in the 9/11 tragedy where more lives are sacrificed later on.

Radical reforms that were mentioned before or in some other countries can be brought out for consideration and debate. Perhaps tax reform is needed to tax the wealthy to assist the poorer community. There is no use if the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. The Covid-19 may be an exceptional case. But when the poor get poorer, which means lesser health and hygiene awareness in them which ultimately might develop other pandemics in the future as well. The virality of Covid-19 shows that viruses can also spread to the rich community.

I have read in an article that says the Covid-19 is a prequel to the global climate crisis. Although both may not be related, the climate crisis is purely a man-made issue. It could be even worse than a pandemic, affecting the whole world and every possible living thing.

There are already signs and science that has been warning us against global warming, but there are not enough actions that are taken to slow it down. 

Malaysia is not the country who has heavily invested in climate action, but now is the time to do it. The leaders, politicians and civil society have to bring this up as a serious next step. The global warming effects wouldn’t stop temporarily and wait for us to cure the Covid-19 pandemic. It still goes on. Are our politicians even aware of the dangers?

Now is the moment for change. But this is not about the change of political power, position or anyone. But a reform of our policies to make the world a better place.

We have to make use of the crisis to bring the attention that the age of excessive individualism and competition should come to an end. We have to mark and push for the beginning of solidarity where we work together for the better good of our nation and the world. 

The pandemic has shown it is workable. People were signing from the balconies together; neighbours collecting food and giving it to those who needed it; volunteers sewing PPE and making masks; doctors, nurses, healthcare professionals, police, military and many others were risking their lives in the frontlines. And it is all to save the lives of others.

Now is the moment for us to change. We can only be better together.

This article has been published in Mandarin in Kwong Wah Yit Poh dated 2nd June 2020.

Among Men, Lu Bu; Among Horses, Red Hare. But….

Lu Bu 呂布, one of the characters in the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, is a gifted warrior, famous in archery, horse-riding, and possessed great physical strength. Trying to gain prominence as a warlord during the era, unfortunately his ambitions were short lived with multiple decisions that he has made.

He began his political career by establishing himself with Ding Yuan丁原, the Inspector (刺史) of Bing Province 并州, who was appointed as Cavalry Commandant (騎都尉) by the Han central government. Lu Bu was recruited as a Registrar 主簿 at that time.

After the death of Emperor Ling 漢靈帝 in 189, Ding Yuan led his troops to the capital Luoyang 洛阳市 to assist the general He Jin 何進 in eliminating the eunuch faction. He Jin ended up being assassinated by the eunuchs instead, after which the warlord Dong Zhuo 董卓 led his forces into Luoyang and occupied the capital. Dong Zhuo then induced Lü Bu into betraying Ding Yuan and defecting to his side. Lü Bu killed Ding Yuan, cut off his head, and presented it to Dong Zhuo. Dong Zhuo appointed Lü Bu as a Cavalry Commandant (騎都尉) and placed much faith and trust in him. He also accepted Lü Bu as a foster son. Lü Bu was later promoted from the position of a Cavalry Commandant to a General of the Household (中郎將). He was also made a Marquis of a Chief Village (都亭侯)

Later on with Dong Zhuo acting like a tyrant, he was hated by many; and Wang Yun 王允 was the one that had plotted to kill the tyrant. He took the opportunity to instigate and incite Lu Bu to turn against Dong Zhuo. Lu Bu successfully killed his foster father, Dong Zhuo, but he was attacked by Dong Zhuo’s followers which forced him to run away from the city.

Lu Bu then tried seeking shelter from Yuan Shu 袁術, but Yuan Shu did not believe in him and was disgusted with his previous betrayals. Lu Bu had no choice but to turn to Yuan Shao 袁紹.

After some time, Lu Bu joined forces with Zhang Miao 張邈, Chen Gong 陳宮, Xu Si 許汜, Wang Kai 王楷, and Zhang Cao 張超 to attack Yan Province which is under the warlord Cao Cao 曹操. They seized control of Puyang 濮阳市 and Lu Bu declared himself as Governor 牧 of Yan Province 兗州.

Cao Cao, who was away for a battle in Xu Province 徐州, led his forces back to reclaim Yan Province. Within two years, Cao Cao won the battle, and manage to retake all his territories in Yan Province.

Lu Bu fled to Xu Province to seek shelter under Liu Bei 劉備. Knowing Lu Bu is in Liu Bei’s province, Yuan Shu instigated Lu Bu to fight against Liu Bei with plenty of resources. Lu Bu was delighted and agreed to help Yuan Shu attack Xiapi 下邳 which is the capital of Xu.

Liu Bei was away with his army resisting Yuan Shu’s invading forces when Lü Bu attacked and seized Xiapi from him. He also lost to Yuan Shu and was forced to retreat to Haixi 海西, where, in hunger and desperation, he surrendered. Lu Bu declared himself the Governor of Xu Province and remained in Xiapi.

Liu Bei then worked together with Cao Cao to defeat Lu Bu at the end, and Lu Bu was forced to surrender. While surrendering, Lu Bu has pleaded to Cao Cao to spare his life, but they have had enough of his treachery and betrayals.

Looking back at the story, what if Lu Bu was to remain loyal to one of the warlords only then? Will he have a better reputation like how Zhao Yun 趙雲 worked with Liu Bei? 

Or what if, when he was a warlord of his own while controlling the Yan and Xu Province, he did not flip flop with allying with one and then depose them? WIll he have lesser enemies and be well-respected?

What if he had only stuck to one ally? Will they create a better force compared to Liu Bei, Cao Cao or Sun Quan 孫權?

The biggest mistake that Lu Bu has done is that he acted erratically in making alliances and betraying them back and forth. A warrior gifted in battle skills, and surrounded by generals and strategists, but making bad decisions have cost his own life as well as his people. In the end, nobody believes in his treachery and flip flopping, and he made too many adversaries out of this.

Does it reflect the current political scenario that irritates you?

This article has been published in Mandarin in Kwong Wah Yit Poh dated 18th May 2020.

What makes a better city?

What makes a better city?

In many people’s minds, a better city is a city with tall skyscrapers, huge industrial zones, big commercial buildings, high-end condominiums and modern infrastructures. 

It sounds like a role for big players, businesses and governments. And cities will keep competing with other cities to be bigger, smarter and more developed than ever.

Lest we forget, those ideas of developments of a city are also the cause of many problems that we face in the world. Sustainability, overcrowding, pollution, traffic and social issues are some of the common ones that we face in a city.

Cities with mega developments are probably the ‘better city’ definition for the big players out there. Does this definition of a ‘city’ relevant to the regular citizens on the streets? 

What is the true definition of a ‘better city’?

The development of a better city does not only consist of material developments, but also the development of our mentality, sustainability, and living conditions.

The basic principles of better cities, by the Circles Project is perhaps a good definition of what a good city should focus on.

Ecology – cities should have a deep and integrated relationship with nature.

Economic – cities should be based on an economy organised around the social needs of all citizens.

Politics – cities should have an enhanced emphasis on engaged and negotiated civic involvement.

Culture – cities should actively develop ongoing processes for dealing with  the uncomfortable intersections of identity and difference.

And this is where every single citizen has a part to play in making a better city. 

How can we be part of building a better city, whether we are a mayor, developer, engineer, shopkeeper or merely a housewife? Everyone plays a role.

What does a better city mean to you?

Ministry of Women & Family is not protecting women & family

In the modern world, advocacy for women’s rights, women empowerment and gender equality is a common thing. The awareness and the growing power of women is a norm in many developed countries.

We have people like Maya Angelou, Oprah Winfrey, Sheryl Sandberg, Malala Yousafzai, Emma Watson, Michelle Obama, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez playing their roles of empowering women. Locally we have women figures like Dr Amalina Bakri, Zainah Anwar and her team in Sisters in Islam, Irene Fernandez, Heidy Quah, Dr Mazlan Othman and many more.

Although not directly, these people, and also many men have been supporting campaigns for women such as He for She, Girls Not Brides, and even the United Nations have stated in the Sustainable Development Goals that gender equality is one of the global goals.

Since independence, we as a nation, have been trying very hard to move from an underdeveloped nation, to a developing nation and hopefully towards a developed nation.

Without a doubt, Malaysia has grown significantly fast in terms of material development. In a short period of half of a century, we have among the tallest towers in the world, long bridges, good infrastructures, buildings and cities.

But as we continue moving forward towards the status of a developed nation, we ought to think of the definition of a developed nation. Beside materials, infrastructures and buildings, what other aspects do we have to achieve?

Gender equality and women empowerment is definitely one factor that determines the status of a nation. A developed nation is not only about buildings and infrastructures, but the mentality, mindset and the human capital.

Unfortunately, during the COVID-19 crisis, many Malaysians were simply disappointed with the newly formed cabinet members when it comes to women empowerment. And worst is that the blunder came from the Ministry of Women & Family.

When we are in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis, it started with a purported Deputy Minister Siti Zailah’s Twitter account that states “the probability of dying from coronavirus is 1%, while the possibility of dying at any moment is 100%”. But after being condemned by the Twitter world, the account was deleted. If the Twitter account is hers, which she did not deny, she should have acted like a leader, a Deputy Minister; admit the mistake, apologise and move on. And not deleting the Twitter account and not owning the mistake.

Even when she was appointed as the Deputy Minister during the period of crisis, one of the first few matters that she brought up was the shariah-compliant attire policy for female flight attendants. That was at a time when approximately 13,000 MAS airline employees had to take unpaid leave due to the Covid-19 pandemic. And this does not include other airlines yet. And that does not include employees from other sectors and industries which will affect every family in Malaysia yet.

When the employees are worrying and struggling to make ends meet, the Deputy Minister focuses on attire. The bread-and-butter issues have to be addressed first. Afterall, if the airline cannot survive through the crisis, what is there to discuss about the attire of the flight attendants?

The highlight happened last week when the Ministry’s official social media account posted a series of infographics with the hashtag of “#WanitaCegahCOVID19”, which I assume should be about how women can play a role in preventing Covid-19.

One of the infographics stated that women who work from home must avoid wearing home attire. They should be putting on makeup and wearing smart working attire. I totally agree that anyone including men, has to keep their outlook neat, tidy and nice. But I don’t see how this message is going to help to fight Covid-19. And I don’t see the necessity of wearing smart working attire at home unless we have to attend official video conference calls.

The other infographic basically mentions that, “If you notice that your spouse is carrying out task in a manner that clashes with your own method, avoid nagging – use a humorous way such as ‘cara sidai baju macam ni lah sayangku’ (mimic the tone of the cartoon character Doraemon and followed with giggling coyly”.

Again, this has nothing to do with the prevention of Covid-19. And this is totally not what should come from a Women’s ministry. When women should be taught how to empower themselves, this Ministry is telling the world that women are powerless and have to resort to such behaviour to get the agreement of their husbands. Can’t women reason with logic and sense? Can’t women debate and deliberate constructively? They are simply promoting patriarchy in this series of infographics, stating that men have the power over women; which is totally wrong.

To use a cartoon character, Doraemon as an example is simply showing that the Ministry is childish and unprofessional. Worst is that I don’t think the tone of the cartoon character would do any good in negotiating between husband and wife.

Well, the social media postings were then deleted after that which I think they owe an apology to every female in Malaysia.

Perhaps the Prime Minister should reconsider his appointment of his fellow cabinet members. For women to lead the Ministry of Women & Family but with the priority of restricting the attire of female flight attendants; and not finding ways to assist them during the difficult times is simply unacceptable. Perhaps she would perform much better in religious affairs.

There are a lot more important issues of women, gender and family for the Ministry to work for. 

Domestic violence, violence against women, sexual harrasment, sexual exploitation, child grooming, child marriage are some important matters that should be prioritize by the Ministry and the Cabinet.

When the Ministry of Women & Family should be protecting the women & family, they aren’t.

This article has been published in Mandarin in Kwong Wah Yit Poh dated 7th April 2020.

The table has turned, again. But we are only moving in circles.

Just during the middle of our nation’s political crisis, every news media is trying hard to cover a story about it, even the international news media. The Guardian, a news media of the United Kingdom, is one of them. But, the Guardian has a different view about it. They have published an article that I would fairly say most Malaysians would disagree with. 

Ironically, they have stated that the political crisis was a coup with royals behind it. At the end of the article, it stated, “A king has overturned a democratic election result that challenged a corrupt old order. This is wrong and the world ought to call it out.” Perhaps, the Guardian is not a fan of the royal family. Even some political party fanatics have also criticised our King for his performance of handling the recent political crisis.

I would disagree with the Guardian and those political fanatics. Our King has handled the matter well enough to prevent the crisis from getting worse. Many have even criticised the decision that was not managed in as democratic way, and was against the constitution. Well, those who are losing from the decision will criticise it, while those who benefit from it will support it. Despite this, I may not agree with the ethical issues about the whole fiasco, but from my point of view, it was done according to the laws. 

The people elect their Member of Parliament to represent them. The Prime Minister and the government is decided by the party who holds the majority in the Parliament. If the smaller parties manage to recruit and bring in the numbers, then they will be the majority and ruling party.

I am not advocating or encouraging MPs to “cross the floors”, the term that means changing party allegiance. But our tendency of deciding our vote on parties will result in a higher possibility of “floor-crossing’. If the voters decide their votes based on individual capability rather than a political party, I believe that the chances of “floor-crossing” is lesser. Afterall, if we choose  the person who represents the people rather than the political party, all the MP has to do is to voice what his constituents want, and not what the party wants. And that is what our current politicians are doing now, they are taking actions based on what the party wants, or worse, what he or she wants.

But anyway, I guess we do not want this crisis to be prolonged. The tables have turned, and we do not want it to keep turning.

When we should look forward, it seems like many are not moving at all.

Immediately after the new Prime Minister was installed by our King, there were claims on the social media that some Barisan Nasional leaders that were charged in court were trying to get the new government to drop their cases. These Pakatan Harapan leaders and supporters were condemning that act in every possible way. 

Weird, but did they remember how some charges like the famous bungalow case were dropped during their time as well? What has happened to it?

Just last week, our petrol price was dropped and the current government’s supporters were praising them for doing the right job of making the petrol price down. 

And then the Pakatan Harapan cheerleaders suddenly became aware of the international crude oil price as the factor of the reduction of the petrol price. 

Remember how we used to explain so in-detailed about crude oil prices to them and they don’t seem to understand every fact and figures that we put up. 

The newly appointed 8th Prime Minister has said in his maiden speech that, “Whether you are Malay, Chinese, Indian, Sikh, Iban, Kadazan, Dusun, Murut, Orang Asli, or one from any race or ethnicity. I am your prime minister. Irrespective of whether you are a farmer, fisherman, businessman, civil servant or private sector employee, I am your prime minister.”

Ironically, ten years ago, it was the same person who said he was a Malay first.

Why did I say we are not moving? We are still practicing the same political culture. Despite changing roles of sides, they are still the typical ol’ politicians. Insinuating, criticising, attacking. Because that is what they need to bring the other side down. Because they want the people to “not vote for the worse candidate”, instead of “voting for the better candidate”.

This is the main reason why we need matured politics to be practiced. Especially the words of each politician should be marked and checked. I am pretty sure there are lots of contradictions and differences from what they have said before and after.

Although the tables have turned again, we are just turning round and round, in circles, like a clown in a circus.

We must not stay stagnant, and we must not go backwards. 

We need to move. We need to move forward.

This article has been published in Mandarin in Kwong Wah Yit Poh dated 10th March 2020.

Does the CM know?

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has been signed between KXP Airport City Holdings and Aeroport de Paris Ingenierie (ADPI) in preparation to build the Kulim International Airport (KXP). 

On that specific event, the Kedah Menteri Besar, Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir was present. During the MOU signing event, it was announced that the groundbreaking will take place in the coming November. The plan to acquire 3,982 hectares of land for the mammoth project has also been finalised. The state government has also enforced the Section 4 of Land Acquisition Act 1960 to prevent any transfer or sale of the involved land and the negotiation with landowners will begin soon. The Kulim International Airport is expected to have their first flight as early as January 2024.

The two companies who signed the MOU looks legit. KXP Airport City Holdings, which has been entrusted by the Kedah state government to manage the development of the airport, has been in serious planning and negotiations. They have opened up tender for consultants to conduct Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), Social Impact  Assessment (SIA) and Traffic Impact Assessment (TIA) August last year. Needless to say for Aeroport de Paris Ingenierie, they have been the airport experts with various experiences of building and upgrading airports all around the world.

With all those hype, negotiations and discussions surrounding the development of the KXP, it is a surprise that the Penang Chief Minister, Chow Kon Yeow said that the Penang state government is unaware of the MOU.

I remember well that the Economic Affairs Minister, Datuk Seri Azmin Ali has mentioned that the Northern Corridor Implementation Authority (NCIA), which is under the Northern Corridor Economic Region (NCER) is the organisation responsible to look through the proposal of the development of KXP. And our Penang Chief Minister is a council member of the NCER. 

Development of an airport must have also involved the Federal Government’s Transport Ministry, which is under the leadership of Anthony Loke. I wonder if Chow’s comrade ever discussed the KXP updates with him.

Even as the state’s CEO, they attend meetings with the Prime Minister and every respective state’s Menteri Besars and Chief Minister. Access to  the Prime Minister and the Federal Government must have not been difficult for Chow especially when they are from the same coalition. 

And I really wonder, with all the connections, how can the Penang Chief Minister be ignorant of the updates of the Kulim International Airport? 

In an article in Invest Kedah magazine, it stated that three independent studies, about 20% of cargo load and 30% of passengers that travel via Penang International Airport comes from the main towns of Kedah and Northern Perak. That numbers are huge enough to impact the economy of Penang.

While the Penang Chief Minister might not be able to do much to influence the development of KXP as it is not  “terpulang kepada dia”, he should be focusing on things that are under his control, or maybe “not”?

The feasibility studies of the Penang Undersea Tunnel that was last said will be completed by September 2019, I wonder whether it is complete yet or not. The last time the Chief Minister mentioned it, it was 90% complete. How long do they need to study the other 10%?

Penang Transport Master Plan which was initiated by the DAP government about a decade ago, is still only on paper? Traffic issues and population does not wait for the government to work on the proposal, it will keep growing no matter what. Whatever challenges there are to implement the PTMP, the government has to solve it for the benefit of the people.

While it is not the rainy season yet, we may not know whether it will still flood in Penang, has the state government implemented the flood mitigation project which has been mentioned for so long?

It is not about criticising the current government, but it really does seem that these proposed ideas have been pending for way too long. Wondering what is the real problem at hand.

These are just a few of the main things that have been dragging on since years ago. If these are not the priorities of the state government, then I wonder what they are. Or is the CM just as ignorant of the development of the state as he is towards the development of the KXP?

Perhaps the only fast moving pace projects are the developments of luxury residential projects.

This article has been published in Mandarin in Kwong Wah Yit Poh dated 24th February 2020.

A nation building lesson from Kobe

In the end of 1990s, the Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan was at their peak, dominating and winning championships in NBA. That was when I started to play and got interested in basketball, but Michael Jordan was retiring during that period. Although he was one of the greatest basketball players in the world, he wasn’t the one that I paid much attention to. During the time when I was so fascinated with basketball, Kobe Bryant was the inspirational one to my friends and I. We grew up watching his whole career in the NBA.

Kobe Bryant, a legend

As I was writing to complete my bi-weekly article two weeks ago, it was devastating to receive news from friends from my basketball circle that the inspirational Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash.

I may have not met him before, I would have never imagined that I would have the opportunity to meet him ever as well. But he remained as an inspirational person to me, not only on the basketball court, but his character of developing himself as well as advocating for sports among youth and women.

He won five championships, was an 18-time All-Star, and countless NBA records in history. And he is the one and only basketball player who has won an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.

Winner of Academy award for Best Animated Short Film

Having achieved such a high stature, in the basketball world, among sports lovers, and to people who might not be interested in sports at all; he played a major influence throughout the world. 

5x Champion

Politicians have a lot to learn from Kobe.

As politicians, it is natural to contest in the general elections to win. Nobody wants to lose in any contest that we participate in. But although general elections are important to politicians, we should not make it a priority; in which it is a priority to many. Most of the political parties and politicians first goal is to win in the elections, and then only plan on how to build the nation. Which I think the mentality and the priority should be changed. We must first have our ideas of developing our nation, then as we advocate for better policies, ultimately, we will be given the victory in the elections.

If basketball is a nation, Kobe has his idea on how to build his ‘nation’, he makes sure he understands his ‘nation’, gets to know the people across his ‘nation’. Winning championships may be certainly a goal for him, but he had used the influences he won from the championships to execute his ‘nation building’ ideas to make it a reality.

Many typical NBA players who retired from professional basketball will probably continue to earn from the fame that they have built, but it is different for Kobe.

At the end of his professional basketball career, he went back to the court to inspire and teach even more players to develop their successes, and that is what he does to build his ‘nation’.

If he is there only to win championships, he wouldn’t have continued his advocacy after he retired professionally. Similarly to politicians, if one has real concerns and is true to his words of building the nation, the priority is not about winning elections then. Building a nation is not only reserved for the winners, everyone and anyone can play their role in it.

There are numerous lessons and experiences that we can learn from Kobe, but specifically for politicians, I think it is his mentality of building his ‘nation’, his love and loyalty for his ‘nation’.

No. 24 was the jersey number that I will take lesson from; coincidentally N24 was the seat that I contested in 2018.

KB 24

His first phase of success ended in 2016 when he retired as a professional player from NBA. His second phase of life is just beginning and was poised for even more success. I was expecting to learn even more from him. It is such a waste that his life has to be ended. Rest in Peace, Kobe, Gianna and to all others who were on board the helicopter.

#MambaOut

This article has been published in Mandarin in Kwong Wah Yit Poh dated 11th February 2020.

A major change of our electoral system?

In a short span of 18 months, we have had 10 by-elections in our country. And the latest one at Kimanis, Sabah whereby the previous results were nullified for election process discrepancies. I am not writing about the details of the Kimanis by-election, but rather about our political system in Malaysia.

Throughout the 10 by-elections, the focus has only been on two major political coalitions in our country, as everyone knows, Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Harapan. In fact, most of the time it has been the contest between these two forces. There might be some changes of the member organization in the political coalition or changes of name throughout, but more or less, it is still the similar political groups.

A third force or an independent political party hardly grows into a major force.

Other than the general political mindset of Malaysians, I believe that the Westminster political system in some way has prevented a new political party to grow in a major force.

The Westminster system is a parliamentary system that was developed in England that is now practiced in many former British Empire colonies. Since Malaysia earned its independence in 1957, we have since then used the Westminster model.

Traditionally, the Parliament members are elected using first-past-the-post from single-member districts. Some new hopeful political parties may garner significant support from the voters, but probably not enough to past-the-post to win in the constituencies. In the end, despite getting votes, they are still nothing if they couldn’t win any seats.

Even if they do win, the amount of seats that these smaller parties obtain may not be significant to make an impact in the Parliament. With such difficulties, the political parties do not have the stamina or resources to survive, and they end up joining forces with either one of the coalitions.

In many parts of the world that practices Westminster or similar model of elections, there will only be two major parties struggling for power.

Malaysian politics has been a struggle between Pakatan Harapan and Barisan Nasional, while in the United Kingdom, it is between the Conservatives and Labour. 

Couple of months back, I heard about the Malaysian election commission putting into discussion the possibility of making major changes in our election system. One of them is to introduce the idea of proportional representation.

For those who are hearing proportional representation for the first time, it is an electoral system in which an electorate is reflected proportionately in the elected body. It can be elected through a party-list, single transferable vote or mixed-member proportional representation.

In short, a voter will vote for an individual candidate in his or her constituency and also another vote for a political party. 

The members of Bundestag, the Parliament of Germany is a nation that uses mixed systems. 

598 of them are elected from party lists proportional representation. 

In Germany’s proportional representation, parties that gain more than 5% of the votes are allocated seats in the Bundestag, with the number of seats depending on the votes that the party gains. For example, if the party gains 10% of the votes, that means the party will have 60 members in the Bundestag.

I would say it is a good initiative by the Election Commission to bring up the idea, although I still have doubts that it will happen anytime soon.

To see it happen will need a huge political will, as if it is implemented, the two big coalitions will have to risk their seats being taken by smaller parties.

To move the nation forward is not only about the change of government policies, but perhaps our political and electoral system.

This article has been published in Mandarin in Kwong Wah Yit Poh dated 28th January 2020.