Saturday, December 19, 2009


There is an American term called NIMBY – short for Not in My Backyard.

Take, for example, the proposed plan of California High Speed Rail (HSR). When completed, it would be the first bullet train service in the United States. In 2008, California voters voted in favor of the project. Facing oil price hike, freeway gridlock and global warming, they understood the benefits brought by HSR. However, when the residents of Atherton, Menlo Park and Palo Alto learned that the train would shoot through their cities, they changed their mind. Now they are opposing the plan. Essentially what they are thinking is: I fully support high speed rail, so long as it is not built in my backyard!

Interestingly, Malaysia has its NIMBYists too. Malaysian government has proposed to extend the two LRT (light rail transit) lines in Klang Valley. Given the traffic jam in this region, the extension should come as good news to the commuters. Somehow, residents of Subang Alam and Putra Heights, where the extended LRT lines would cut through, are unhappy. Prem Kaur, the president of Putra Heights Residents Associated, was reported as saying, “When we moved in seven years ago, we were fully aware that there was no public transportation here. We enjoy the low density and the quietness.” (The Star, Dec 15, 2009)

I understand their concern with regard to their properties. But Klang Valley badly needs better public transport. Can we compromise?

Of course, I don’t expect the voice of the residents is strong enough to halt the project. After all, this is Malaysia, not USA. The most they would achieve is re-routing of the rail lines.

I hope NIMBYism won’t derail California HSR too.

California HSR struck by NIMBYism


  1. well, i guess everyone is worry abt ourselves~ no suppose to blame them....

  2. Better public transportation is indeed welcomed.

  3. kikey
    Haha... if I were in the same shoes as them, I may also object the project.

    Mei Ting
    But how to balance individual rights and greater good?

  4. Well, I guess people always think of themselves first. Who would think of the greater good? Not many! If there's a LRT built right behind my house, I will surely object!! Unless they offer me a better home in a better location as compensation! LOL!

  5. If the train whizzes past homes without a noise, I'm sure nobody would object that. LOL!

  6. foongpc
    If there is an LRT station near your home, maybe the property price in that area will increase!

    You know there are two LRT lines here? They are Kelana Jaya Line and Sri Petaling Line. The train-sets used in Kelana Jaya Line are actually not noisy. Those used in the other line, however, are not so great.

  7. wow...high speed train

    A smile from SJ =)

  8. I think there are some NIMBY in all communities. It may be more true in North America where people are more individualistic and there are strong lobbies.

    I know that in France, the government usually gets it way.

  9. well, it's always not easy to please all parties.. i'm sure there will always be happy ones and the furious ones for every development..

  10. Great article.
    And great term.

    NIMBY really goes to show how much we want something, and yet how little effort we are willing to put in to achieve it.

    It applies in many areas of life.

  11. SJ
    That's California, not here.

    In Malaysia, government also usually has the say.

    You're right. Can't please everybody.

    Oh... you sense a more profound implications from the incidents...