Penang steeped in culture but must also develop fast to draw millennials

The Miao Hui (Temple Festival) in Penang never fails to fascinate visitors with its cultural activities. — Filepic

PENANG was hectic and full of life over the last couple of weekends. It showed a truly diverse community that shared a kind of closeness enviable to many.

We just witnessed a smooth double celebration of Thaipusam and Chap Goh Meh, the last day of festivities for the Lunar New Year.

The annual Chneah Hoay or flame-watching ceremony at the Hai Choo Soo Temple in Tanjung Tokong has indicated a strong economy for Penang this year.

Since the majority of Chinese in Penang are Hokkiens, the ninth day of the Chinese New Year is greeted with more pomp and gaiety than the first day.

At the stroke of midnight, young and old celebrated as fireworks lit up the sky for the Thnee Kong Seh (Jade Emperor’s birthday) or Hokkien New Year.

But the one which always draws my attention is the annual Miao Hui (Temple Festival) celebration, featuring rich cultural displays and nostalgic activities.

You will find yourself transported back in time to see how things were done in old Penang.

There was a year when it featured traditional games like the hopscotch, seven stones and eagle-catching chicks.

It instantly brought back all those wonderful memories of my childhood when we used to play all day long and would only return home when the street lights came on.

Kalitoay (a type of catch-me-if-you-can game played on a badminton court), bai kar por (one-leg hopping catching the others) and ma ta chat (police catch thieves) were the games of my generation.

Monopoly, Chinese chess, hide-and-seek and playing marbles were also our favourite pastimes, although there were video games then.

Penang has always been at the forefront of celebrating culture, aptly reminding the younger generation of its customs, heritage and the good old days.

While it is steeped in culture, tradition and history, it is also known for its slower pace of life, good food and friendly people.

It still retains much of its old-world charm to stir the imagination while advancing enough for one to find modern conveniences that suit their tastes.

More infrastructure development is expected to take off this year. Among them are the Penang International Airport and Swettenham Pier Cruise Terminal expansion projects, Package Two of the Penang Transport Master Plan project, the Gurney Wharf, and the Bayan Lepas Light Rail Transit project.

The city needs to grow as the population expands.

I am sure you do not want to waste your precious time getting stuck in traffic jams in the near future.

That is where the Penang Transport Master Plan is vital in providing an effective public transport system and subsequently, reduce cars on the roads.

We need more affordable housing, and need to see the creation of more high-paying jobs so that your children and mine need not have to seek greener pastures elsewhere.

It is everyone’s wish for Penang to become a more liveable and modern city for the millennials while still being quaint, attractive and closely associated with history.

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