We need plans

OoiZhiYi 20160110 Penang Structure Heritage Plan SAP BIPenang Gerakan Youth Secretary Ooi Zhi Yi

Another year is passing by, and it is the time of the year where everyone renews our resolution and plans for the year ahead. Some may have a simple plan such as reducing weight, planning to travel to certain parts of the world or may be to learn a new language. Some ambitious people may have written and more formal plans in their life.

I guess throughout our lives, we face plans all the time, whether in our personal or working life. If could be as small as planning to eat our favorite food during the weekend or striving to get a job promotion in the year.

Plans can be drafted for several reasons; while the general objective is to give ourselves a clear direction to what we want in life; the plans of businesses and organizations may also be to bring confidence to their investors, employees and stakeholders.

Same goes to the government, a plan is first to provide a clear guideline on how the country should be governed and also to give confidence to the people on how the country that they live in is going to perform.

At the Federal level, we have the Malaysia Plan which we are now into the 11th Malaysia Plan beginning 2016; we also have the Malaysia Education Blueprint, the Industrial Master Plan and many more.

At the state level, we are supposed to have the plans such as Penang Structure Plan and the George Town Special Area Plan.
Now, why do I mention these two plans and the word “suppose”. This two plans which should be gazetted as a guideline to the state’s development while ensuring sustainability in terms of heritage and environmental concerns.

The Penang Structure Plan which has been gazetted in the year 2007 when the Barisan Nasional is still governing Penang. Under the Town and Country Planning Act, it is a statutory requirement for the state to review the plan every five years, which is supposed to due in the year 2012. Unfortunately, until today, in 2016, we have heard nothing from the State Government of any updates on the review.

In the George Town Special Area Plan, which is drafted to govern the specific area on how the heritage should be protected has not yet gazetted despite attaining the UNESCO heritage status in 2008. Are we waiting for UNESCO to retract the status before the State Government manage to gazette the Plan?

In the past few years, we have read in the news regarding developers and businesses pushing for their commercial gains while ignoring the concerns of environment and heritage sustainability. Multiple heritage and colonial buildings were demolished to make way for profitable luxury condominiums; developments were made on dangerous hill slopes; trees on hills were cut down without permit; foreign companies buying rows of properties at the heritage area, many were to be commercialized while ignoring the intangible heritage.

I believe all this happens because there is a lack of clear guideline on managing the development of planning in the state. Either the business people doesn’t know if there is any certain guideline to follow or they are too smart to know that there are so many loopholes with the unclear guidelines.

I wonder, why did the State Government take so long to gazette the George Town Special Area Plan and to review the Penang Structure Plan? Are they so incompetent or is there any “other plans” going on at the back?

With a party that has so successfully planned general election campaigns, the Bersih rally, the Himpunan Hijau rally and so many other solidarities, I have to think again, did they really fail to plan?

Since I was young, I have always heard of a popular phrase, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. So is the State Government planning to fail the people of Penang?