With an area of 738 sqkm and a population of 900,000 inhabitants Seberang Perai has undergone rapid urban growth for the past ten years. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) comprise a total of 17 goals, 169 targets, and some 200+ indicators. Seberang Perai would like to translate the SDGs into our own set of policies and strategies.In short, MPSP aims to provide a good quality of life to our rate payers by using SDGs as guiding principle to achieve our local priorities and meet our needs. The rapid urbanization in Seberang Perai over the last ten years has also led to certain challenges. Seberang Perai has adopted a comprehensive Five-year Strategic Plan for the period 2014-2018, which is also translated into annual plans. These can be measured more easily in term of impact and progress.
The first main challenge and task of the Municipal Council of Seberang Perai is to translate the national and state policies into local development action. A second related challenge is that we have only limited resources, but seemingly unlimited needs. Given this situation it is a challenge for us to provide good quality of life for all our stakeholders, also ensuring that “no one will be left behind.” Our local development policies aim to make Seberang Perai a habitat of choice for residents who want sustainable living, a location of choice for investors, and a destination of choice for tourists. Everybody needs and wants a cleaner, greener, safer and healthier urban environment which we are seeking to provide.
The principle of cleaner development emphasizes not only waste management or a cleaner physical environment, but we also emphasize clean and good governance with the principles of competency, accountability and transparency in administration (“CAT Principles”). For us, greener development not only means planting more trees in the city. It also means achieving progress in term of sustainable urban development in line with the concepts of low-carbon city, eco-city, and by implementing green procurement, green office, and renewable energy promotion. In this way we can reduce our ecological footprint. A safer city means a safer environment for the citizens, safer in terms of economy, political stability, and prevention of diseases and disasters. In Seberang Perai, we are implementing Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED). The principle of healthier city aims not only to ensure physical health for everyone, but also a healthier and competitive economy, spiritual health, financial health and psychological health. We engage with our communities in most of our decision making.
Tourism is one of the important economic sectors in Seberang Perai, besides the electronic, industrial and manufacturing sectors. We encourage tourism development and tourist infrastructure in Seberang Perai by providing clear policy and guidelines for tourism development, especially for hotels and tourism products. There are currently 81 hotels in various categories. We also encourage homestay tourism to enable tourists to experience the local culture. We provide opportunities for eco-tourism as well as heritage tourism. Tourism investors are given incentives by allowing a higher plot-ratio in tourism development compared to the normal commercial development. In the year 2013, we produced our first tourist map for Seberang Perai, and our Heritage Map was published in 2014. We are ready to promote our tourist attractions,working hand-in-hand with other groups and tourism related agencies.
We are adopting CAT (Competency,Accountability & Transparency) in our administration to attain good governance. We are practicing open tenders for all our projects so that we can achieve best outcomes with value for money. We offer an on-line “one stop center”for those who want to submit development plans, and potential investors can view the status of their applications online, too. Through CAT principles, we engage and empower our stakeholders and make them our partners in managing the city. Our Better Penang App is a smart monitoring system (SMS) which enable stakeholders to communicate and participate in our city. The more detailed information, please see cat.betterpg.com.
Solid waste management is one of the main challenges for my city. In the year 2012, we changed “3R” (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) to “4R”(Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle). In my opinion, implementing “3R” may not be sufficient to achieve more sustainable consumption and production patterns. As consumers, we must also be willing to “Rethink”. As a city, our objective is to reduce the generation of solid waste by 50 per cent. Until recently, Seberang Perai produced some 1100 tons of waste per day. We hope to reduce this to about 550 tons/day through a comprehensive “rethink” process which includes the implementation of better waste segregation at source, and higher fees for waste recycling and waste disposal services.
Under our “Local Action 21” campaign,we have implemented some 20 programs aimed to enhance ecological sustainability in our city. These programs include Green School Awards, Recycling Awards (Category: Kindergartens, Primary & Secondary School), Sustainability Community Awards, and a Zero Waste Competition (Category: Primary & Secondary Schools, Communities). We implement public benefit campaigns to enhance composting and community farming, to promote city beautification, and to encourage re-cycling. Our public awareness creation and public benefit campaigns targeting the youth also include advertorials such as “Appreciate food”, “Eat till finish”or “Don’t waste food”. We distribute recycling bins to kindergartens and flower pots to the schools. Adults and children learn mud ball making, soap making from used cooking oil, and beneficial indigenous microorganism (BIM) making. Seminars, talks and visits to other agencies or local governments help to disseminate information on such good and best practices.
The office of the Municipal Council of Seberang Perai (MPSP) is certified as green office by the state Penang Green Council since 2013. We are practicing e-meeting and e-procurement. We have institutionalized green procurement criteria for all of our procurement. Furthermore, the Municipality has also embarked on an “Eco-City Development Project”. A total area of 6000 acres of land is to be developed in line with “Eco-City Guidelines”. In addition, Seberang Perai seeks to advance implementation of SDG Goal 11 by promoting green buildings and greater use of renewable energy.
A comprehensive urban renewal and rejuvenation project is also in the pipeline for the town of Butterworth. This new project aims to enhance the local economy and bring back the vibrancy of Butterworth town. Many restoration projects and cultural heritage activities will be carried out, including the Butterworth Fringe Festival (BFF). We believe that a “City without Activities Is a City without Souls”. We also believe that “A City is for People and People are for a City.”
MPSP has a clear development plan.Our plan provides policy direction and a strategy of development. Overall planning for the region provides a framework and guidance for planning at the local level. We seek to give investors the confidence they need for doing business, and we have streamlined and strengthened the review and approval procedures for all business and land development. In this way, we are a “pro-growth” municipality.
By having a pro-growth development strategy, we are also encouraging the creation of employment opportunities in all key sectors, including agriculture, commerce, housing, tourism and other services. We are also building local markets and hawkers complexes to cater to the low income group at very low rentals. This is to ensure jobs opportunities for the poor.
We encourage social integration by implementing a pro-poor development strategy. For example, any developer who develops 150 units of housing needs to provide about 30 per cent in the low cost housing category. The state government has also introduced an Affordable Housing Program to encourage private developers to develop affordable housing at controlled prices of RM 150,000.00, RM 200,000.00 and RM 250,000.00 per unit (approx. 35,000 – 60,000 US$). This development strategy is to cater to the poor and other under privileged groups.
We have implemented gender responsive participatory budgeting (GRPB) since 2012. For us, GRPB is a process to help identify different needs of different people in different communities, and to help forge a closer relationship between the Municipality and the people. Its purpose is to ensure that the process of decision making on local budget allocations is as inclusive as possible, so that priority needs within communities and the necessary interventions are identified and carried out. Gender responsive participatory budgeting provides multiple benefits and adapts budgets to the needs of users of public services. The Municipal Council of Seberang Perai was also the first local authority in Malaysia to provide allocations for gender mainstreaming within the work of the council.
A gender responsive participatory budgeting calls for regular dialogue between residents and authorities. It requires systematic data collection to enable an evaluation of budget spending by gender and to monitor achievement of other impacts and results. GRPB involves women and men, old and young, mobile and not mobile, working and not working, and all the different voices of a community in preparing the municipal budget. This is in line with the SDG principle that “no one will be left behind.”
Since 2012, the Municipal Council of Seberang Perai organizes annual budget dialogues with the community to get input, opinions and suggestions for improvement. Participatory budgeting enables broad community participation. The participants include Members of Parliament, State Assembly men and women, NGO representatives, government agencies, village leaders, investors, the youth and Community Based Organizations (CBOs).
We gather feedback and proposals on how to distribute our limited resources to cater for the needs of the communities. GRPB allows us to allocate our financial resources according to the priorities suggested by the communities. Throughout the past five years GRPB Town Hall Sessions have repeatedly emphasized the issue of cleanliness as a top priority of rate payers. Other priorities include safety and traffic, law enforcement, flood mitigation, landscape & public amenities, community engagement, capacity building, fiscal strengthening and effectiveness and efficiency in the work process and standard operating procedures (SOP).
The Municipality regularly collects and analyzes feedback provided by the public. We are pleased to note that satisfaction with our service delivery has increased from some 68 per cent in 2014 to some 89 per cent in 2015. For us, gender responsive participatory budgeting is an integral part of transparent city management.