No smartphone = problems living in Penang

  • Letters
  • Saturday, 01 Aug 2020

I LIVE in Penang, and while I usually try to catch the infrequent Rapid bus, walk or bike, I do drive when I need to. However, I have an intractable problem with parking at Penang City Council-designated parking lots because I do not own a smartphone.

The state government implemented an e-parking system at the start of this year. My old phone does not allow me to download the e-parking app.

To compound my parking woes, I am unable to purchase parking coupons – they are no longer available as a result of the new system.

I have actually paid the council RM40 for unused, 2019 parking coupons.

Effectively, I have already paid for public parking which I cannot make use of. I went to the council recently, hoping to exchange the outdated parking coupons for current ones or to try and get my money back.

I explained my problem, fanned out the “virgin” parking coupon booklets and showed my phone.

The staff that I talked to said he couldn’t help.

When I insisted that I am not getting a service I had already paid for, he said I should document my complaint in a complaints form.

“You are not the first person to complain. Many have already complained before you.”

“So what happened to their complaints?” I asked.

“Nothing, no action was taken, ” was his reply.

“You want me to waste my time filling out a complaint form when many have already done the same and no action was taken?”

I realised then that the city council was only implementing a policy that the Penang government had pushed through without thinking of the needs of all in the community.

Did the state government not receive the complaints that had been lodged by those who do not have smartphones and are facing parking woes? How is this segment of the population to park at council parking lots?

Buy a smartphone? That is not right, some of us make a conscious choice not to own a smartphone because, hey, smartphones are so not smart for the planet.

Another problem looms on the horizon for this segment of our community: the state government plans to implement the use of an e-wallet app at local markets. I will not be able to buy fresh, local produce there because I don’t have a smartphone.

The state government’s “Green, Clean Penang” does not take into account the environmental impact of smartphones and their usage for basic services like marketing and parking.

Apart from the carbon footprint of manufacturing smartphones that only last for two to three years, the way smartphones are used has a huge environmental impact too. Among the largest generators of CO2 emissions are the servers and data centres that calculate every Google search, every Facebook post, and even every time we open an app.

To those calling the shots at the Penang government, please resolve the parking and soon-to-be marketing woes of your constituents who do not own and do not wish to own smartphones.



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