George Town as an engine of growth


Modern times are nothing if not the age of cities. This is a time when cities compete with each other, and Penang is not exempted. But although it has more advantages and more resources than most secondary cities in the region, to succeed, it needs vision and leadership.

UNTIL as late as the 1990s, cities were largely associated with pollution and congestion. Worse, they were seen as crucibles of moral decay and crime. Those who could choose where to stay, meaning the rich and the middle class, left to live in the suburbs and new towns.

Since then, a dramatic change in the perception of cities has taken place, at least among some leading scholars and many of those involved in built environments. Today, the catchphrase is: “Cities are not the problems; they are the solutions.” Some have set up organisations such as Metropoli Foundation and Creative Cities Foundation to sing the praises of cities and to advocate them as engines of growth. The watchwords are “creative cities”, “innovative cities”, “knowledge hubs” and “eco-cities”.

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