No business like hub business
• 2007: Abdullah — logistics hub
• 2008: Guan Eng — outsourcing hub
• 2009: Guan Eng — halal hub
• 2009: Guan Eng — air cargo hub
• 2010: Ramasamy — education hub
• 2010: Najib — regional hub
• 2012: Najib — development hub
Proof that politicians love to go round in circles
You know elections are near when politicians dust off old speeches and make headlines with vague promises of "transformation". That’s what the prime minister did on Sunday, making old news with an old speech about “transforming” Penang, and turning Penang into an economic hub.
Almost every year since 2007, someone has said just about the same thing. Abdullah Ahmad Badawi turned up in 2007 promising to turn Penang into a logistics hub and a “global city”. That was a plug for Patrick “Badawi” Lim’s grand vision to plunder the turf club land.
The next year Lim Guan Eng came into office and said Penang would be an outsourcing hub. He’s also kept on talking about turning Penang into a “world city”, and an “intelligent city” whatever that was.
Then it was Najib’s turn to talk about hubs, in 2010 and on Sunday.
Maybe they didn’t know that Penang has been a trading and commercial centre, a hub if you will, for 200 years, doing business with Aceh and Sumatra, Thailand, Burma, India, feeding the northern region through its port, buying and selling rice, rubber and tin, and for 40 years making and selling electronics products to the world.
And all that without much federal help. Were they all asleep all this while?
Making Penang into a Klang Valley
What did Najib promise? Vague plans, still being drawn up. But he knows what he wants. He wants to rip out Penang’s 200-year-old culture and lifestyle, and replace it with skyscrapers and urban sprawl. He sees "large cities as the nerve centres of economic growth".
He sounds like a property developer’s puppet. Big cities are good. Turn Penang into another Klang Valley. Bring urban sprawl throughout the state, six-lane highways ripping up neighbourhoods, tear down kampungs for skyscapers, turn natural greenery into sterile and expensive concrete, glass and steel slums.
The Penang state government also has grand ambitions of turning Penang into a "world city", a “global city” and an “intelligent city”. No firm details were given, but you can guess it also means urban sprawl throughout the state, six-lane highways ripping through old neighbourhoods, kampungs torn down for skyscrapers, and natural greenery converted into sterile and expensive slums of concrete, aluminium and glass.
They all sound like shills for the property and construction cartel. In talking up the “world city” idea, was the Penang government just doing advance marketing for what Dijaya Corporation and Ivory Properties have now cooked up between them for reclaimed land in Bayan Mutiara? It’s also called a “world city” — but it’s just another property development, with skyscapers, expensive flats, shops and offices. And the mandatory landscaped park of course. Just in case you’ve forgotten what grass and trees look like.
Najib also has “world city” ambitions. He should have just asked Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, a Penang boy, to make the speech he made four years ago, when he demanded that the state government and the island council push through the “global city” project — just another property development — and announced the Northern Corridor Economic Region (the headquarters of which now lives in an old mansion just down the road from the Residency).
Abdullah also promised to rape Penang on behalf of the construction and property cartels. He, too, talked about "transformation of Penang into a modern, vibrant city" and a hub.
But there’s no way Najib would talk about Abdullah’s “global city”. Abdullah and Nor Mohamed Yakcop, also a Penang boy, have their cronies, Najib has his. And the Penang state government have their own cronies for good measure.
Cronies may not be the right word. "Business associates" perhaps. Or how about "well-heeled supporters willing to quietly fund political or election campaigns in return for lucrative billion-ringgit property and construction deals"?
Whichever way you put it, the politicians and their businessmen friends are going to stick the knife into Penang and Penang’s lifestyle.
"Transformation" just means politicians turning businessmen into billionaires. They’ll rape Penang and leave the mess for your children and grandchildren. Can you live with that?
• 2007: Penang transformation into major hub
• 2010: Penang tapped as economic hub of the north
• 2012: Najib: BN will turn Penang into development hub
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