How important are state-owned lands?

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.

“Kita menang sama-sama, kita kalah pun sama-sama”

Last week, a group of us went to watch the now popular local movie Ola Bola. We are lucky that we manage to invite one of the Malaysian football players Dato’ Shukor Salleh, who has qualified to the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games as what the movie is all about. The family members of another player, Dato’ Namat Abdullah who played for Malaysia in the 1972 Munich Olympics were also there.

The movie was a hit with many praises all over the nation regarding the message that the movie has delivered. It’s a local movie that has reminded us the “impact of unity” that we are craving for. The movie has shown us how unity is so important that has brought victory to the nation. How the Malaysian team from yesteryear who doesn’t differentiate themselves by race, ethnic or background made the whole nation proud.

I may not have been born during that era yet, but from the storyline of the movie, from listening to the stories of our Malaysian seniors and reading; the spirit of unity was much better then compared to today.

Coming back to the present day, I am sure many would agree that Malaysian unity has eroded since the days of our fathers and grandfathers.

What are our concerns of the day? How we should develop each other races? How one politician should fight for his or her own race?

Even political parties who claim to fight for Malaysians have been shouting slogans that mislead the people. They have stressed too much on the inequalities of the non-Malays which created more dissatisfaction and hatred instead of creating the “united Malaysian passion” in the people. Why? The only reason that I could think of is that it is much easier to win elections in creating hatred towards the opponents rather than trying to convince on their vision towards the nation.

Instead of bringing the people united, they are segregating the people even more.

How many of us actually sit down together with friends from other races to enjoy meals? How many of us watch local movies of another race, like what our seniors did during the P. Ramlee years? How many of us listen to songs from another race, similar; like how our seniors listen to “Getaran Jiwa” and “Tiada Kata Secantik Bahasa”?

Today, there are still many who talks about pushing for their own race to be better, to improve and to get more benefits from Government policies. There have been even calls within the community to make our respective races better.

No, I am not only talking about Malays. I am also talking about Chinese, Indian and every other race that is present in Malaysia.

For the Malays or Bumiputeras, we have the New Economic Policy to boost their equity and economic situation. Even for Chinese and Indians have various policies for their specific interests as well, thanks to the politicians that have advocated for their rights. But why haven’t we really heard of politicians fighting for Malaysian rights in the right way?

If we are really sincere in advocating the “Malaysian way”, we must learn to share; not only sharing our culture; but also to accept cultures from others.

Today, we must forgo the race-based political scenario and look things from the Malaysian perspective.

The only way to solve the issues of today is by facing it from the context of a Malaysian, and not any specific race.

High cost of living, drop of the ringgit value, increasing property prices, environmental issues, welfare issues and many more; does not choose to only affect a specific race, every Malaysian has to encounter it.

Whatever decision the government makes, it affects everyone as a nation. It will not affect specific race specifically. So we must work as a nation, not for specific race or group of people.

We are in a team; we cannot lose or win individually. As one of the players in the movie Ola Bola said, “Kita menang sama-sama, kita kalah pun sama-sama.”