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Moving City Into The Forest

By Pipit Tai

"Never let yourself slip into the borderland between right and wrong.
A transaction may be legal, but it may not be RIGHT."
-Herbert N. Casson

...They created a national park and now they want to move the city into the forest....

They are at it again. Do a good job and then spoil it all. They created a national park and now they want to move the city into the forest. They are planning a building spree. Roads, hardened hiking trails, canopy walk, chalets, boardwalks, buildings, buildings and more buildings. There is even a proposal to make some of the buildings into the shape of an eagle. Some people seem to have no idea what nature is all about, but they claim to be nature consultants. They think putting man-made artificial bricks, mortar, steel and concrete into the forest makes for a better national park. What nonsense! Why are the tax-payers paying for this rubbish?

We have two great Prime Ministers who have laid out policy that our future is to be able to compete in the information and knowledge industries. But it seems the grassroots civil servants are unable or unwilling to follow this policy through. We are throwing away our future by planning to pour tons of concrete into the forest. Why can�t we spend what money we can spare by putting it into education and research on forestry, wildlife, eco-systems, maybe even park management? Why can�t we invest in people and human resources rather than in bricks and mortar? Instead we are calling one set of old buildings in the forest a visual blight and planning to put up more, newer and bigger ones in their place. It seems we don�t know what else to do except put up buildings and more buildings. Are we so incapable of training young people and future generations in the tradition of excellence, creativity and research? Why can�t we put the emphasis on living beings rather than in dead steel and concrete? Even the middle level politicians and leaders such as those we have in Penang don�t seem to be able to control what their juniors are doing. What kind of future are we facing when grassroots civil servants and middle level politicians cannot implement the policies of the top leaders?

I vaguely remember watching a TV drama about the Sino-Japanese war. In one of the scenes, when the Japanese Prime Minister reported to the Emperor that the money from war reparations are to be spent on hospitals, roads etc, etc., the Emperor gave him an earful and demanded that all the money be spent on education. Is this one of the reasons why the Japanese are so competitive and technologically advanced today? At this point I must apologise for using cheap TV dramas as an example, but right now, it seems even the middle level politicians are not successfully competing as role models with cheap TV dramas.

Sorry about letting off so much steam. But it is maddening to be forced to challenge a rotten draft plan word by word, sentence by sentence and proposal by proposal. Are we not losing sight of the forest for the trees? Why are we having this rotten draft plan forced down out throats? These are my personal opinions. You are free to disagree. I am sorry if it sounds a little stressed up.

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