Have you ever wondered how small is the place that we are living in? When we clock off from our job every day and goes back home, is there any space for us to walk around, hangout or do we have to face concrete walls even when we reach home?
In small islands like Hong Kong, Singapore and in the little island that I live in, Penang; people especially businesspeople are aware of the value of lands, and that includes public lands.
In such a small island with scarce of lands, developers crave for every single acre of land available for developments. These lands can be turned into huge profit for them. I totally understand that these developers, being business practitioners, they must maximise their profit in every corner of their piece of land. They are answerable to the goals of their company as well as to their investors. After all, they are a business entity, which their main priority is to make profit.
As private lands are mostly being developed already especially in the prime areas, what is left empty are the public lands, which is owned by the government.
What we have heard lately through last year is that there are documents and allegations that the Penang State Government has sold off a number of public-owned lands. Taman Manggis, Bayan Mutiara and some other smaller plots of lands.
But it seems that not many are worried of the current developments of this issue. Not many were worried that the public is left with no lands. I believe a lot of Penangites wanted developments in our state. Many would want to see multi-national corporations investing in the state, huge shopping malls with top international brands and skyscrapers built across our city.
But seldom do people know that or forget that developments must come with sustainability in order to make a better city. This kind of mind set is not something unusual. After all, when we visit our friends’ home, we are usually impressed of the size, the furniture and the technology in the house compared to the greens. It is a mind-set that we have to revolutionize in ourselves.
A sustainable development can only be achievable through policies set by the Government. But we are seeing that the Penang State Government is doing the other way around. Trees on top of the hills and down on the road are being chopped off; land reclamations were implemented around the island and public lands being sold off for commercial development.
Instead of encouraging businesses to buy and develop public land commercially, the Government must explore on how the people and businesses can work together to conserve the public spaces.
Instead of making sure investment comes in by benefitting the corporates, the Government must make sure they gives back to the community.
Instead of selling off the public lands to private companies, Government should turn these lands to many good uses for the community.
The existing lands that we have in the state have already been an issue. If the State Government cannot solve and conserve the existing public lands, we will see even more problems with the reclaimed lands.
We may be seeing various polls in the internet stating that Penang is one of the best places to go to, to live in or to retire at. Let us ponder deeply in us; imagine the environmental condition, the space that we live in, the community that we live with. We ourselves know best where we are living in. And we must ask ourselves what kind of space we want to live in.