Penang on the right track

GROWING up, it seems to me 2020 has always been heavily hyped as a year for greatness in Malaysia.

Time flies and tomorrow is the beginning of 2020.

It’s time for New Year resolutions again.

Like every other year, it is back to basics for me, like eating a bit healthier, learning something new and exercising more, which I have failed to do in the last two years.

Just like Vision 2020 has failed, and our premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad attributed this to the lack of implementation of policies by governments under the fifth and sixth prime ministers.

For now, we will be having the Shared Prosperity Vision 2030.

Coincidentally, Penang too has its own Penang 2030 Vision of being a family-focused green and smart state that will inspire the nation.

Recently, I went on a week-long road trip to Johor, which is on the other end of the country from Penang.

The state is dear to my mother who spent two years of her childhood there in the 1960s.

Needless to say, much has changed since she lived there.

She found it difficult to identify the roads, houses and her former school.

She quipped that the distance between her childhood house and her school was much further than she remembered.

For someone like me who visited Johor during a blink-and-miss trip as a kid, the state is big and well-developed.

The architecture is of advanced and high standards, as buildings are big and much effort had been put into the aesthetics.

As a Penangite, I felt like a fish out of water when driving on the wide roads.

Learning to find my way around the state and visit different locations proved to be tedious as I realised nothing was nearby.

The roads are wide and they offer a smooth drive but making my way to any destination took half a day.

I could not fit in as much as I wanted to during this trip.

I definitely could not wait to come home.

Similarly when I was in the Kuala Lumpur leg of my road trip, I had a sudden craving for Ikea food which is usually a norm.

The thought of manoeuvring through traffic and making my way there for a meal seemed daunting.

Luckily, we now have an Ikea in Penang which is in Batu Kawan.

This got me thinking about the way we complain about the distance between places in Penang and how even driving across the Penang Bridge is considered troublesome.

Nothing in Penang is actually too far away.

And things definitely looked up with our Penang 2030 Vision unveiled in 2018, a brainchild of our chief minister Chow Kon Yeow, who planned to boost the state’s economic engines as well as tackle traffic congestion, housing issues, haphazard developments and many others.

I have started to envisage taking the Bayan Lepas light rail transit to Penang International Airport or Komtar area to do my festive shopping, instead of getting stuck in traffic jams, especially during the holiday season.

There will also be the Gurney Wharf and eastern seafront development along the Weld Quay area where I could enjoy a cuppa by the sea, instead of the Karpal Singh Drive area where I usually go.

With a RM100mil allocation, the proposed cable car project for Penang Hill could come to fruition to take the load off the existing funicular railway service. I would love to see this.

And the big plans for the proposed Penang South Island certainly look promising and appealing, just like a new township of its own.

With all these heading our way, perhaps Penangites might really be the ones to be envied by others in future.

This is the place I call home and get to enjoy the sun, beaches and street food in a relaxing manner.

Happy New Year!

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