Real Democracy Requires Democracy in Planning

loading Lo Barnechea.

A new culture is being cultivated in Penang, which often goes unnoticed. New approaches to policy formulations are seldom noted partly because the effects are not immediate and partly because they appear too mundane and technical to be written about by journalists. Nevertheless, they are there, and in the longer term, they are the nuts and bolts of lasting change.

When I attended the One-Stop Centre (OSC) committee meeting earlier this year, one of my long-held suspicions was confirmed: development planning really is elitist. There were experts from the local government and state and federal agencies – architects, town planners, engineers, fire safety experts and even religious experts. There were also experts from the private sector, representing developers, a duplicate counterpart of the composition of the OSC technical committee, engineers and even more architects and town planners.

In short, the OSC is a confederation of experts. Perhaps rightly so, because we do not want our buildings and homes to be built by the untrained.

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