水患与蓝图

近来持续数周的暴雨已经引起槟城人的担心,像直落巴巷这种极少淹水的地方,也发生了水患。这场水患比起国内其他地方可能不严重,但值得关心的是,可能一些特别的原因造成了这场水患。众所皆知,暴雨在马来西亚不是一个特别的现象,但为何以前当地没发生水患?

来自不同专业领域的几个朋友在喝咖啡时,都在讨论这件事。他们的结论是,大雨当然是主要原因,超级月亮现象也被指为造成水患的因素。也有人认为是沟渠排水不畅和欠佳的治水系统造成了水患。此外,过度胡乱开发山坡,也是水患的主要原因之一,因为山上的树林是天然的集水区。一些环境专家也表示,气候变化是因素之一。

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Of floods and plans

Penang Floods 2016

The recent weeks of heavy rain have been a cause of worry for many Penangites. Places like Teluk Bahang which was rarely affected by floods has been flooded. Although the flood might not be serious as many other cases around the nation, but it is serious in a sense that something different that might have caused the floods. As we know, heavy rains in Malaysia are not a peculiar matter.

A few friends who come from different expertise have discussed about it over coffee and they have made a conclusion over the cause of the floods. Heavy rains of course are the first things that were brought up. The supermoon phenomenon was also blamed for causing the floods. While some has argued that poor drainage system and poor flood mitigation system has caused the floods. Excessive and unplanned hill cutting is also one of the major causes of floods as the trees on the hills serves as a natural water catchment area. Some environment experts have also said that the climate change is the factor.

In my opinion, all of the points that were mentioned are true; all of it causes floods.

While we cannot control natural events like heavy rains and the supermoon phenomenon or the climate change which is a global effect; I am sure drainage and hill cutting issues can be solved.

We have all known the hill cutting issues have been so massive that when we look from the Google Map, we can see a lot of brown patches around the island. It is an obvious fact that deforestation has happen around the hills in Penang.

By cutting the trees on the hills, it destroys the natural water catchment area whereby rain water is collected by natural landscape. It prevents the rain water from flowing directly to the lower ground. This might have been an important factor that causes floods in the past week especially when the flood water is brown and murky. It signifies that the water must have come from the brown soil on top of the hill.

Nine months after DAP won the elections at the state level and formed the state government, YB Ng Wei Aik hold a press conference stating that they have solved the flood issues within 9 months that was never solved for 50 years.

In 2014, YB Chow Kon Yeow has stated that the state government is planning for the flood mitigation masterplan for the five districts to solve flooding problems in the state.

However, up until today the flood problem is still unresolved. Floods in Teluk Bahang, Bayan Lepas and may other areas including the famous “Teh Tarik Falls” of Paya Terubong.

What has happened to the flood mitigation masterplan? Is there a real study to draft the masterplan? Or is the masterplan a failure? Or the masterplan was never implemented at all?

The state government has claimed and stated in many press conferences that they have drafted plans, guidelines and many other similar documents. Flood mitigation masterplan, Penang Transport Master Plan, George Town Special Area Plan, Penang Hill Special Area Plan and many more.

But have all of these been planned or implemented efficiently? Only Penangites should know the best if they really look into the answers.

We have seen the DAP politicians keep on harping on national issues. 1MDB, corruption, national budget, GST, political funding and so many others.

There’s no doubt that these issues are important.

Although issues like floods, traffic, cleanliness may not be seen as huge as the 1MDB and corruption; but it is important as it affects our daily lives. If we cannot even solve the simplest thing of all, if we have to worry about these small issues that affect our lives directly, what more are we talking about huge, national issues.

Penangites ready for public debate?

Penang debate 290616


Debate between YB Liang Teck Meng & YB Lim Hock Seng on the “Three Highways and Underground Sea Tunnel” two weeks ago was a waste of time.

I was there throughout the whole debate and watch the whole scene; that has happened on the stage and on the floor.

The debate begins with a quite a peaceful manner with cheers and hand clapping to each of the YB by their respective supporters. There were some occasional small jeers by small group of supporters though. It started quite well.

But the chaos starts after both YBs presented their points in the first round of fifteen minutes; when the question session begins.

YB Lim Hock Seng did not answer all three questions imposed by YB Liang Teck Meng. Not only that, he has diverted the topic to 1MDB, RM2.6 billion donation issue, GST and many other national issues.

Then and there, the audience begins to get frustrated as they were waiting for answers about the 3 highways and underground sea tunnel but it was not given.  They started to jeer louder at YB Lim. One of the audiences who were so irked kept on shouting “ask him to talk about the tunnel”.

To my shock, YB Lim Hock Seng responded to the audience on the floor, and with a harsh way, and stirred up the anger of the audience. Words like “kalau tak tau, jangan bising. Tau tak, bodoh?”, “Eh, samseng!”, “CIlaka punya GST, GST cilaka!” came out from the mouth of YB Lim. You, I and everyone else know, such words will only provoke the crowds even more.

 

“Ask him to talk about the tunnel!”

The debate yesterday shows how unprofessional YB Lim Hock Seng is; provoking the emotions of the BN supporters instead of answering the questions about the tunnel and highways imposed by YB Liang Teck Meng.

Posted by Gerakan Penang 檳州民政 on Tuesday, June 28, 2016

YB Lim Hock Seng as a four- term people’s representative didn’t acted professionally as the debater. First, he didn’t answer the questions imposed and tries to divert the topic to other national issues.

When many were waiting to listen for the truth about the highways and tunnel right from the mouth of the Public Works, Utility and Transport Exco to make things clear, all they got is some other information.

Besides that, in the debate YB Lim should only respond to YB Liang. Instead, he responded the audience. If anyone is there that night, one would have seen clearly how YB Lim kept on chiding the audience with strong expressions. It has definitely arouses their anger and therefore, the people shouted back. YB Lim has forgotten that it was a debate; not a ceramah, dialogue session, not concert.

To make things worse, a senior and respected people’s representative who has served the people for nearly two decades is urging the people to NOT respect others. YB Lim clearly stated in the debate that YB Liang should not be respected. That event is supposed to be a professional debate, not an argument on the street.

Despite not answering the questions and diverting the topic, at the end of the day, I still believe that YB Lim and the DAP achieved their objective.

Barisan Nasional supporters were again tainted with being rowdy and harsh. DAP manage to strengthen their existing support base by reminding them about the controversial national issues.

I agree with many though that the people on the floor should attend the debate with an open and mature mind. If everyone was quiet and just listens to the debate, I am sure the people in and out of the hall, will judge the debate purely on the content.

Looking at how the YB acted as a debater and how the audience on the floor responded; I am convinced that many Penangites are not ready for a public debate yet.

Unfortunately for those who attended hoping for a matured debate, maybe we will have to wait for another 10 or 20 years?

We, Penangites have to ask ourselves whether we want such a leader for our state, one that cannot act professionally as a leader. There are many quotes that states “Leaders should lead by example”. Maybe the people should be leading the politicians instead by being more matured, politically.

Funny though, at the end of the debate, the DAP state leaders even carried YB Lim Hock Seng and him holding a drinking water bottle as if it is a trophy, “indicating” that he is the winner of the debate.

We all know that this particular debate will not determine any winner, but to enlighten the public on the facts of the issue. But witnessing the whole debate and the after-effects, I guess it is just one of the political play by DAP to strengthen themselves.

The evolution of sharing economy and democratization of data

sharingeconomy

A friend of mine went to our nation’s capital, Kuala Lumpur a couple of weeks back for a working trip. He booked his accommodation through Airbnb, and managed to stay in a nicely maintained studio apartment in the city centre. When he got the house keys from an elderly couple, he was told that the apartment belongs to their son. As his son went overseas for a few months for a working trip, they felt that probably they could share the unit with travellers to the city at a cheaper cost comparing to the high cost of the hotels in Kuala Lumpur. Upon arrival at the city, he travelled around Kuala Lumpur using the Uber. One of the Uber drivers told my friend that she was not trying to earn an income by being an Uber driver. But since she was on the same route with my friend, she decides to pick him up as well.

Uber and Airbnb are the two models of sharing economy most commonly used in Malaysia despite some controversies especially Uber. Sharing economy basically means an economic model in which individuals are able to borrow or rent assets owned by someone else. The sharing economy model is most likely to be used when the price of a particular asset is high and the asset is not fully utilized all the time.

In many advanced countries, there are many other models of sharing economy in different sectors. People can lend or make small loans to others through peer-to-peer banking site such as Lendico. Even tasks and foods can be modelled after the sharing economy. People can offer freelance jobs to consumers who need help with everyday tasks, including cleaning, moving, delivery and handyman work. Families who own a small garden where they plant vegetables can share it to others when they grow an excess of it.

These companies all use the resources that exist outside their organizations through platforms that allow people to connect to one another. Technically, technology has enabled these companies to develop in an industry without owning the resources needed. Uber, one of the world’s largest taxi companies, owns no vehicles. Airbnb, a huge accommodation provider, owns no hotels. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content.

As we have seen the success of the companies that implements the sharing economy model by providing services to the consumers; I believe that government can do the same. In fact, there are countries who are implementing it already, which is through “open data”. Making data more open to the public can help government leverages the principles of sharing economy and use resources that exist in their communities to deliver better services for residents.

In the US, the Freedom of Information Act requires governments to provide public access to documents and records. Many governments have even gone to the extent of providing raw government data to the public. Open data has become a platform for governments to drive innovation through engaging expertise outside of the government. Countries like Japan, United Kingdom, Ghana and Singapore are the few countries that have taken the open data approach.

Penang government, despite advocating for the Freedom of Information by its DAP leaders, has been doing the opposite. Many people who have applied to gain access to certain government documents were rejected directly or indirectly.

Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) is one of the good case studies on the benefits if open data is implemented. I attended a talk on the PTMP last Sunday by the Penang Heritage Trust (PHT) and the participants were given the overview of the PTMP including an alternative suggestion by Dr. Lim Mah Hui from Penang Forum who happens to be the MBPP councillor.

One of the ironies in the PTMP case is that the PHT has been trying to obtain the PTMP document from the Penang state government. Unfortunately, they were only allowed to read the document in the government office itself. The document cannot be reproduced in any way, not by photocopying it, not by digitalizing it, and they were not even allowed to take photos of the document.

It is widely known that Penang is famous for its NGOs and activisms by people from different professions. The government can easily tap into existing community resources of talent and knowledge to provide better solutions and make life easier for the people.

If these data is made available to them, the government could have alternative suggestions from a different perspective. For instance in this case, PHT could have provided an alternative plan for consideration.

If open data is implemented; professionals and academicians can conduct more researches to enable the government to make better-informed decisions.

Open data is not only important to give access to the public, but also encourage more collaboration and better analysis across departments and government agencies.

Malaysians have been open to collaborate and share from the economic perspective through transportation and accommodation. It is high time that we execute the democratization of data to allow collaboration of different communities, profession and government to enable sharing economy in governance.

More data should be made available, more details of the PTMP should be released. If the Democratic Action Party cannot democratize data, they have already failed by their name itself. There was no Action to Democratize data.

This article has been published in Mandarin in Kwong Wah Yit Poh dated 1st July 2016.