Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Accelerating Penang - Step 1: Cleanliness

For those of you who have participated in my post on Penang, I would like to thank you for your suggestions.

Obviously, we cannot just talk but some form of action is needed if we want to send a clear signal to the politicians not to mess with us. Penang does not have to be dependent on the federal forever. If we persist, decentralisation is inevitable.

I agree that we need to focus on immediate areas of improvement. Here I would like to pick on 'Cleanliness'.

Cleanliness not only affects us but also businesses, visitors and tourists. Many of the East Asian tourists have avoided Penang because we have lost our sparkle and our civility. Not only that Penang is dirty, we act dirty too. Litters can be found everywhere.

I agree that the new government has a lot to do and we cannot expect miracle then again who said we have to depend on the state government solely. This is precisely what I asked us to do, stand up, act on it and be counted.

We need to do something on cleanliness:

1) Talk to the local assemblyman of your area - ask him to help organise a gotong royong. This is a good way to start.

2) In Korea, I was surprised to see that rubbish bins are not provided freely but yet the streets are clean. Koreans have improved their civic-conscious after the 1997 financial crisis. I was there in 1998 and went there again recently. In 10 years, Seoul is a clean and livable city. Why can't we do the same? Many of us are highly educated but have cultivated a bad habit of keeping our own house clean only.
Why don't we mobilise and start a "Keep Penang Clean and Sparkle" campaign. Do not print out papers and start to pollute the state. Do it via e-campaign - USE YOUR BLOG. Send out emails, smses, calls etc. to remind our friends, relatives and colleagues to adopt a clean culture. Do not litter, use our own shopping bag and to conserve.

3) In November, I have approached the state to organise an International Arts Conservation Festival in Penang. You can do the same...organise among yourselves. Veon Tze got it right. Regardless of the political affiliation, we need to stand together as Penangites. This is the time we stick together or we fall. The world's economy is slowing down, competition is getting keener and businesses are foot loose. What do we do? Like the Koreans during the post-97 crisis, they rallied together and sprang back with a vengeance. They did it. Look at Korean companies, culture, movies, entertainment, tourism etc.

4) Let me know how we can organise ourselves and do something together. Penang to lead, we must be different, better and more passionate than others.

Can we do it?


Richard said...

Thank you Mr. Khoo for starting this series Accelerating Penang. We can move faster if you can have your blog link to more sites.


A major move is to rid of plastic bags provided by shops and supermarkets.

I remember years back, mppp supply free about 30 inches high dustbin with cover to housing estate. I am not sure whether they do it now. This is to prevent dogs and cats from harvesting from the usual small bin or no bins from the household who just simply throw their waste along the roadside.

I would suggest designing a roll up or folding bag for shopping. It comes in three sizes, small, medium and big. All household must have at least a set each. They must bring it along with them for marketing or shopping. Its illegal for shops or supermarkets to provide plastic bags or any kind of throw away bags for customers. If a proper design and quality shopping bags (which can last for quite sometime, depend on the frequencies one goes shopping ) are use we can at least rid of these plastic bags problem. The state can provide free for the first set, if it can afford or sell at a low profit margin price. Or we can get the supermarket and major shopping malls to sponsor since they will be saving on the plastic bags.

Hawkers are now using disposal plates, chopsticks etc. Hawkers must ensure that all these used items to be properly pack and disposed at mppp designated rubbish collection center.

The problem is with roadside hawkers and food stall selling food and drinks in plastic, paper bags. Customers will consume the food and drinks while they stroll along and after finishing they just dump them wherever they are if they cannot find any dustbin.

So, educating about cleanliness must be an ongoing process.

If all else does not work, enforcement must be implemented with a fine for littering plus getting offenders to sweep and clean up public places.

Fishhook said...

We can have countless gotong royongs but if the habitual litterers are not stopped or taught a lesson, it will be back to square.

I suggest better enforcement like in Singapore. Honestly I have never seen anyone being fined for littering in Penang before in my life. Penang people like to try to push the legal limits but deep down they are still scared of enforcers.

Khoo Kay Peng said...

Dear Richard,

Again thanks fr participation. Instead of linking to more sites, I hope more Penang-based bloggers can take up the issue on cleanliness.

Mine is only a blog. If more can help to disseminate the message, the better it will be for all of us.

LangChiaPek 三輪車伕 said...

Hi Gavin,

The state government of Penang heard you, and ADUN for Pulau Tikus took up your call to do a cleanup job at Gurney Drive.