Penang Institute hosted a class of 24 Master’s students and lecturers in Urban and Economic Geography from Utrecht University’s Human Geography and Planning Department on 9 March 2018. The delegation had visited Singapore before coming to Penang. They met several state and federal government agencies with the aim of understanding urban planning and development in Penang and Singapore.
Comparing Penang with Singapore, the students were divided into eight groups looking into different issues on urban development. Among the issues were public and green space, urban mobility, smart transport system, public housing, food heritage, and air transport.
At Penang Institute, they formed an enthusiastic audience to a dialogue held with researchers from the Social Studies and Statistics Programme, and the Regional Urban Studies Programme. The dialogue was moderated by Ms Ong Wooi Leng, Head of Social Studies and Statistics Programme, who encouraged the eight research groups to exchange analytical observations related to the respective studied areas, and to further make comparison between Penang and Singapore.
In response to the students’ observations, Dr Sri Ramasamy gave her opinion on the reasons of low consumption in Penang’s public transport as a means of commuting for work as compared to the case in Singapore. Mr Tan Lii Inn shared with the students on the smart initiatives undertaken by Penang state government. According to interviews with Singapore residents, a group of students found that Singaporeans would travel to Penang during weekends to enjoy its hawker food fare. Mr Mohd Izzuddin then elaborated on the cultural aspect of food in Penang.
On the social perspective, Ms Yeong Pey Jung shared on the poverty alleviation programme through conditional cash transfer, while Ms Ong Wooi Leng explained the maintenance issues related to public housing in Penang.
This Utrecht University delegation was led by Associate Professor Dr Leo van Grunsven.