GEORGE TOWN, Sept 28 – A group of politicians and NGOs held a protest against the move by the Penang Island City Council to close a 150-metre stretch of Love Lane, from the Chulia Street junction, to all vehicles from 7pm to 4am daily. The protest was held at Komtar here this morning.
The Penang Front Party (PFP) and several Muslim NGOs are claiming that the proposed closure will become a nuisance to residents in the area as it would encourage drinking in public and immoral activities. It was learnt that the council offered this solution after a stretch of bars, frequented by tourists, put up tables and chairs on the roadside car park lots next to their bars.
The council also stressed the proposal to close off a portion of the street for several hours a day, was for safety reasons. It however said the decision was not final as they were awaiting feedback from stakeholders. In today’s protest, PFP chairman Patrick Ooi said a recent visit to the affected stretch showed seven different bars operating next to each other along Love Lane.
He said a door-to-door visit to residences, businesses and hotels nearby these bars, found that the bars was a nuisance. Ooi said 43 heritage shophouse owners had registered their unhappiness over the “outdoor” drinking, which have been operating for more than a year despite the fact that having tables and chairs by the roadside was a clear violation of the law but the city council had apparently turned a blind eye to these bars and allowed them to run their business freely.
In protest, Ooi and NGO representatives later presented a memorandum to Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, via his information officer Zahar Zainol, at the state government’s office. Among the reasons outlined in the memorandum as to why roadside drinking should be prohibited was that it promoted vice, was a nuisance to residents in the area, and an annoyance to those staying in motels there. — PN