Apparently, someone from the Penang government did read the story and referred the incident to the Penang Island Municipal Council (otherwise known as the Majlis Perbandaran Pulau Pinang, MPPP), requesting to know what had happened. As the writer of the story, I was of course informed.
Two weeks passed rather quickly without any further information from the other end. It so happened that this morning, I remembered my story and that someone was supposed to be looking into it. So I wrote in to ask for the results of their investigation. This was the attachment that I received through email:
To: "Farida-Hani M.Yacob"
From: Akbar Mustapha
Date: 11/20/2012 05:15PM
Cc: [six email addresses removed]
Subject: Re: Complaint from the public - Esplanade
Tidak ada sebarang kerja-kerja pemotongan pokok dijalankan di Esplanade, Padang Kota Lama sepertimana yang dilaporkan. Pekerja MPPP dar Bahagian Landskap hanya memangkas dan membawa turun daun-daun kering dari pokok Royal Palm di sepanjang Jalan berdekatan dengan padang Esplanade.
Kerja-kerja ini adalah kerja penyelenggaraan pokok dari masa ke semasa bagi menjamin keselamatan orang ramai.
Sekian, terima kasih.
HAJI MOHAMED AKBAR MUSTAPHA.
There is no chopping of trees at Esplanade as reported. MPPP staffs had just cleared the dried branches and leaves from the Royal Palm trees along the road side at Esplanade.
This is the normal maintainace of road side trees by the MPPP Landscape Department.
"There is no chopping of trees at Esplanade as reported." I (almost) rubbed my eyes when I read this. Despite the photographic evidence, this was the reply that was forwarded to me. Any right-thinking citizen would think that the MPPP, especially its Landscaping Department, are being run by a bunch of dolts who speak without thinking. So I wrote back to the Chief Minister's confidential secretary as follows:
Dear Ms Faridah-Hani,
Thank you for your email and the especially interesting reply from the MPPP. Am I to accept that at least 20 to 30 trees, including one huge tree that must be at least 25 metres tall, have all magically disappeared from beside the Fort Cornwallis? Were the trees just figments of my imagination then? Was I dreaming that the trees were there in the first place? Thank you.