Dr Anwar: Penangites are never afraid to speak up on pressing issues

Dr Anwar giving his talk on ‘The Spirit of Penang: Informing, Inspiring and Igniting Change’, that kicks off the Penang Story 3.

THE Penang Story 3 initiative kicked off with a talk titled ‘The Spirit of Penang: Informing, Inspiring and Igniting Change’ in George Town.

Held at the UAB Building in China Street Ghaut, it took a crowd of around 100 through the issues and dynamics of public interest activism and social change.

Speaker Datuk Dr Anwar Fazal, chairman of Think City, said Penangites have never been afraid to express their concerns about things that could affect them.

“They had the knowledge and wisdom to speak out. There is a sense of community and care for the place that we live in, and wanting it to be good,” he noted.

The activism encompassed a broad spectrum of issues, ranging from pollution and the environment to tackling corruption and over development.

While some like the anti-PORR (Penang Outer Ring Road) campaign ultimately proved successful, others, like opposition to the construction of the original Penang Bridge — with many feeling the money could have been better utilised elsewhere — did not.

But Dr Anwar, who is also director of the Right Livelyhood College, Citizens International and the Penang Gandhi Peace Centre, said that would not stop people from continuing to voice out what they believe in.

“Little people doing little things in little places can change the world,” he opined during the recent talk.

He pointed to examples like Dr Wu Lien-teh and Sun Yat-sen, whose small ideas, once triggered, eventually mushroomed into global movements.

And the humble island, named after a nut, could also lay claim to once having the tallest building in Asia and longest bridge in Southeast Asia, among other notable feats.

The Penang Story project started in 2001 as a column in The Star, alongside a series of workshops, to develop greater awareness about the state’s cultural diversity.

In 2010, Think City together with the Penang Heritage Trust (PHT) ran Penang Story 2, themed Penang in Global History, with lectures, exhibitions and publications.

Now, Penang Story 3, themed Spirit of Community, aims to further document and highlight the state’s history and heritage, while encouraging wider community participation.

The event also saw the soft launch of The Penangpedia (www.penangpedia.net), a digital platform intended to be the primary source of data that facilitates the sharing of community histories and information.

A collaboration between Wawasan Open University and the PHT, it allows people from all walks of life to peruse, retrieve and upload information, while also serving as a directory that links to various other sources.

Two books — Biographical Dictionary of Penang’s Mercantile Personalities and Glimpses of Penang’s Past — were also launched after the talk.

Other works and publications from the Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP), World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action and the Pesticide Action Network were also on sale.

For more information about Penang Story 3, email to enquiry@thinkcity.com.my.

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