Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Love or hate him, Guan Eng governs Penang well

One of the wall murals around Geogetown.

I’ve just returned from my third visit to Penang after May 5th where the Pakatan Rakyat government headed my Chief Minister, Lim Guan Eng was returned to power for a second term. My first two visits were brief as I was there with other members of New Movement for MCA Change, and we didn’t actually have time for other activities, except meeting with MCA members.
I’ve heard and read so much about the famous wall murals, the many boutique hotels that was converted from pre-war houses, the rehabilitation of the infamous Sungai Pinang and some new one way streets that are supposed to ease the traffic congestion, so how can I not be there to get a feel of it myself? After all, some of these were the issues that my ex comrades in DAP and I used to demand the state government to act on.
After staying in Penang for three nights, seeing with my own eyes the changes since 2008, chatted with old friends, patronizing my favorite eateries and visited many places that were once familiar, I have to say that Guan Eng governs Penang well. Penang is a much better place now and on its way to reclaim its status as the pearl of the orient.

Tourists are back in droves. The street murals are a great hit and it brought business opportunities to the locals who set up stalls selling drinks and souvenirs. Bicycle rental shops are aplenty around the Heritage Core Area. For Rm 10.00 per day, it is a very convenient mode of transport to roam around, hopping from one wall mural, museum, temple and clan house to the other. It is fun to search for the wall murals from street to street.

The once sleepy Georgetown is back alive, a far cry from those days when I was staying in Penang. Dilapidated pre-war houses were converted into café and boutique hotels. Some would claim that the credits have to go to the previous state government and the listing of Georgetown as UNESCO World Heritage Site but I beg to differ. Without the state government’s effort in cutting the red tapes for businesses to flourish and taking the effort to organize events and others, the UNESCO listing will not necessary bring in tourists. It needs the right combination.

Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, museum cum boutique hotel.
At last, Gurney Drive, Jalan Kelawai and a few other streets surrounding the area are converted into one way streets to ease the notorious traffic congestions. There are protests going around, claiming that the one way streets will not ease the congestion but understanding Penangites, I dare to say that they protest for nostalgic reasons. Penangites are well known to be nostalgic and they just like what they are used to. Though I didn’t stay in Penang for long, I have to admit that I am influenced by them in this aspect. So, asking them to drive a different direction from what they are used to can create huh hah because I too, once protested the change of traffic around the Sungai Pinang area.
Another notable thing I observed in Penang is the clamping and towing of cars that parked illegally. Plenty of signboards with such warning are erected around the island. However, the difference between Penang and other places in Malaysia is that in Penang, the enforcement officers are everywhere. Seeing the tow trucks at Gurney Drive reminds me so much of Jessie Ooi and her Miss Towtruck moniker. If I am to be asked to name a place where enforcement officer really do their work round the clock, I will answer: Penang.
Love him or hate him, one cannot deny that Guan Eng governs Penang well. Well done to Guan Eng and his team. I sincerely hope that by the end of your second five year term, you will make Penang a world class city comparable to Singapore, Shanghai and Melbourne where you once lived. With your political will power, I believe this is achievable.

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