I'll bet if we send survey forms to the Ozzies students from Adeliade, our rankings will be skyhigh. Don't believe me? See for yourselves ....
Perhaps, and this a serious "perhaps", we should give more weight to what students think of the universities.
Bye, bye Ozzies. They had their final presentation on Friday afternoon and it was the best ever. Seven years! Now we want to talk about MOU and MOA. OK, I know it's inevitable. I can't resist. I will have to contribute to the KPI.
That same morning I was at the g Hotel along Gurney Drive for the heritage conference. I thought I would be enjoying the fabulous buffet spread. Nah, as usual, they rope off an area and gave us the normal food. The turnout was quite incredible, given that the participants have to pay. I was one of the discussants on the role of government and laws and enforcement in heritage conservation. I think I made some people really really unhappy. So what's new? I made the senior admin at INSPEN a little annoyed too the previous day. Just me and my big mouth. On the other hand, some participants told me they quite agree with what I said. I said several things, but one thing I said was that MPPP (the local authority) should be ashamed of itself. I was comparing with Vigan city in Philippines (the mayor presented a casestudy) which only have a budget of only $4.5 million and did some impressive things. Whilst MPPP has an annual budget of what, RM100 million a year? How are we spending all that money, I asked? We spend the money to throw rubbish in Pulau Burung (the landfill) whilst Vigan has some very sustainable practices (e.g. composting). Master plans, laws, management plans? We got all those. We know, we need to do all those things. And we have achieved much. That cannot be denied. Then why is it that during the Hari Raya long break the local authority had to set up a special task force together with the heritage NGOs to be vigilant against illegal demolition of heritage buildings. Yes, there was report from the ground that many building owners were "preparing to start work" just before the long break.
Ask the people of Penang whether George Town should be conserved, the majority say yes. Will they live in George Town? Majority say no. They prefer the modern housing in Bayan Baru or Tanjung Bungah. I asked, what's the problem? Is it politics? Why is there a disconnect between what the government and NGOs want and what the people, especially heritage building owners want?
So are we spending money in the right places? The RM25 million promised for heritage work by the previous Prime Minister? Embargoed (like many Federal fundingsand projects). Politics at play. They still don't get it.
Looks familiar? Yah beautiful hall. Nice air-conditioning, I remarked to a colleague that next time they should have the conference on the streets of George Town, like the hungry ghost festival. This was a State-sponsored event but I guess they still have not got a grasp on zero waste or sustainability. On the long table for speaker and panelist on stage were green glass bottles of Perrier water. I scrutinised the label. Imported all the way from South Australia.