Remember Penang

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You are holding the first issue of the revamped Penang Economic Monthly. For that reason alone, I would suggest that you seriously consider it a collector’s item.

But there is much more to it than that.

You are literally witnessing the start of a fervent attempt at arousing Penangites and Penang lovers to remember Penang.

Now, if you take time to think about it, remembering Penang is not an easy thing. Much effort is needed because much has been lost.

It is about remembering Penang’s forgotten dreams.

It is about remembering how it was the centre of many things; the home of many of Malaysia’s best minds, and the vanguard of Malaysian development. It is about reminding ourselves of what Penang could have become, and can yet become.

It is also about rethinking Penang. Old models no longer work, and a remodelling is required. The world has changed, Malaysia has changed.

It is about re-imagining Penang. We are in a global age that involves us directly as a city. This is not an age when superpowers fight each other. That is past. Nor is this an age when nations and states are the basic progenitors in history. This is the age of cities, of cosmopolitan hubs outdoing each other as centres of finance and economics, as generators of lifestyle, as facilitators of human creativity, and as guarantors of peaceful and meaningful living.

We are in that sense happily surrounded in the region, from Seoul and Shanghai to Xiamen and Hong Kong, from Singapore and Kuala Lumpur to Mumbai and Dubai, by cities from whom we can learn, and, hopefully in time, to whom we can teach.

Remembering Penang calls for a concerted effort to rebuild it. There is a need to re-member Penang, as it were. By this re-membering, I mean the reversal of the process of dismembering that the state has suffered for many years.

What’s more, to remember a place in this way, we must first re-acquaint ourselves with it. Sad to say, reliable information about Penang is lacking. And whatever there is has not been easily available to the common Penangite.

It is time for that to change.

Over the years, Penang has been depleted of much of its resources, its opportunities, and also its young people.

In short, Penang needs vibrancy. It needs to exist more, both in terms of available knowledge about it, and of innovative power in economics, politics and culture.

The Socio-Economic and Environmental Research Institute (SERI), with the revamping of this magazine, invites all concerned to help transform Penang into a model of multiracialism, industry, education, cosmopolitanism, creativity, and good clean fun.



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