Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Lucky Slum Dwellers

In Malaysia, we often spend money on big infrastructure projects that may or may not benefit citizens. I suppose the government will adamantly still go ahead because corrupt BN politicians and their cronies need to line their prodigious pockets and satisfy their gargantuan greed.

Okay, we all know corruption is massive in this country – but today, I am keen to talk about this colossal idea that has been made into a reality by the Colombian government that is a godsend to at least 12,000 residents of Medellin's rough Comuna 12 neighbourhood. These shanty town dwellers used to trek up and down steep slopes every day – which authorities say is the same as going up a 28-storey building.

Not any more because the government has installed a giant outdoor escalator! And hey, according to UK’s The Sun, it cost only £4 million – which is really cheap for a government project. Malaysians will surely marvel at this austere pricing because we are known to spend RM1.95 million for one thousand racks to hold tourism pamphlets or RM1,950 per rack (Webpage
, published October 24, 2011).

Photo: AFP

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Officials say the inhabitants of the Colombian slum will now take only six minutes instead of the 35-minute hike on foot up the hillside. Cesar Hernandez, head of projects for Medellin, said the electric stairway is divided into six sections and has a length of 384 meters (1,260 feet).

Mayor Alonso Salazar described Comuna 13 as the city's district that has "suffered the greatest urban violence... but lately this has been receding and we hope this social package will help it move forward." Now if only Malaysia will learn from Colombia!

I was at the Taman Indrahana Toastmasters meeting yesterday and the torrential downpour must have kept many members away because I only counted twenty of us that were present. Still, as always it was a good meeting with Karen Cheah and Michael Kum slowly but steadily showing us their increasing confidence as competent speakers. And they also have the benefit of good evaluations from Dr. Devi Menon and Chrristine Ngiam respectively. Even Chan Siew Peng has shown good improvement as a Toastmaster-of-the-Evening. It is always heartening to see a Toastmasters club that is determined to show progress at every meeting! As for me, I did not undertake any role and I was content to sit quietly and listen to the speeches and evaluations.

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