Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Focus on the real 'killers' in Penang - reproduced from MalaysiaKini

I believe Khoo has gotten to a point like me - go suck eggs and talk about the real killers and problems. Stop screwing around our minds thinking that we are still stuck in the 80s. We are NOT!

Focus on the real 'killers' in Penang
Khoo Kay Peng Oct 14, 08 5:16pm
Penang is a small state. It has a small closely-knitted community. It can count the existence of an active NGO community as one of its blessings. The community should be credited for bringing up several key issues in the state including the PGCC and others.Lately, there are calls for the state government to reconsider allowing the implementation of wireless internet broadband infrastructure in the state due to health fears. The state government recently officiated the launch of a Wi-Fi and WiMax project by a local provider. This project, according to the state government, is not exclusive.The use of Wi-Fi is free but it is expected to be slow because many users would probably jump on the bandwagon. However, the service of WiMax is expected to cost users RM88 per month.As a Wi-Fi user, I can understand the fear of health risks associated with the microwaves transmitted from the signal. However, after weeks of going through relevant information on the Internet I believe experts have not found conclusive evidence to pin a health-related risk to the use of Wi-Fi or WiMax.Internet connectivity and backbone infrastructure is very important to the state's socio-economic development. Granted, technically Wi-Fi may not be able to support critical business systems which require a 100% reliable and fast network. However, a free Wi-Fi service can go a long way in assisting students and others to gain access to the Internet and narrow the gap in information accessibility.At present, there are many other real/substantiated health risks and 'killers' lurking around our society.The NGOs and people of Penang should focus on cleanliness as an important health agenda. I have been back regularly to the state but I still notice that old, dirty habits die hard. Many still use the drain as a rubbish bin. The wet markets still stink! Our public toilets will put some of the Chinese to shame. They have cleaned up for the Olympics but we haven't.Penang needs to usher in a new culture of cleanliness. Take Hong Kong as a good example. After Sars, many Hongkies have participated in the movement to upgrade HK's hygiene level. We should do the same to make it more bearable for locals and tourists.Take a look at the surrounding of Komtar. My friend who visited Penang recently told me about the ugly, dodgy and uncomfortable feeling he had about the area which is supposed to be our town centre. What has happened?Our beaches used to be the envy of many visitors. A number of them used to make a yearly pilgrim to Penang. Not anymore. Now, you can even commit suicide by swimming in the seas. There are a hell of a lot of jellyfishes around. If you are not stung by one of them, you may probably die of arsenic waste poisoning in the water.My advice is, let's focus on cleanliness. This should be our No 1 priority.Next, what about smoking in public places? A number of cities in Europe have banned smoking in open public areas. Not in Penang. It will not be a public area if you do not find smokers puffing away happily. Why can't we impose the same restriction on public places? You would probably agree with me that smoking is more dangerous than surfing the Internet on a wireless network.If smoking is bad for health, I am sure the carbon dioxide which emits from cars, vehicles, airconds etc. are equally bad for health. We should really do something about private car ownership in Penang. At present, it is better for you to walk back home than to wait for a bus after 10.30pm.The public bus transport system is so unreliable that many have to resort to cars. I feel lost if I do not have a car in Penang. Hence, I am also a culprit who is helping a 'killer'(pollution) of your health. More cars mean more fatal accidents too. This is one of the biggest killers in Malaysia.We need NGOs to focus on these too. Yes, I know you have been doing your job. But we need to be more vocal in getting ourselves a decent public bus system.Next, we have the real killers (robbers, rapists, murderers) on the streets. Recently, a wife of a politician was murdered. Gory. Probably many more petty crimes go unreported. A number of observers have warned of higher crime rates.What can we do? We should work together to keep our neighbourhoods and our society safe.See? There are many real killers lurking around the state. Can we just let the Wi-Fi issue ease off a bit and focus on the real threats?

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