Land reclamation the only way to fund transport plans in Penang

December 31st, 2015 Leave a comment
PenangLRT (2)

Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP).

No choice but to reclaim land to fund transport plans in Penang

Over the past seven years, the DAP-led Penang government has had to endure criticism from various quarters over many of the changes introduced in the state.

Among them are the proposed undersea tunnel and highway projects and more recently, the proposal to reclaim more than 1,200ha for two man-made islands off the southern coast of Penang island to finance the ambitious Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP).

Such projects are not without controversy. When the undersea tunnel linking George Town and Butterworth was proposed, it was criticised by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and environmentalists worried about the project’s impact on the sea.

The same concern has now been raised by NGOs and fishermen in the south, who fear the massive land reclamation will destroy fishing and breeding grounds for marine life, and cause pollution in the sea.

Chief minister Lim Guan Eng (pictured, below) said the Penang government had thought of other options but it has no power to borrow money or raise bonds to fund the master plan.

“When we have something of this scale, RM27 billion, we have no choice,” he told The Malaysian Insider recently.

The PTMP is a comprehensive plan to create an integrated transport system for Penang.

It includes a rail network with light rail transit (LRT) and monorail lines, cable cars, buses, water taxis, and ferries, apart from highways.

Meant to drive growth in Penang up to 2050, the master plan will cover the entire state, introducing monorail lines connecting the George Town city centre to Air Itam and Tanjung Tokong, trams in the city, an LRT from Komtar to the Penang International Airport in Bayan Lepas, and another LRT line across the sea to Butterworth on the mainland.

There will also be a rail line and bus services connecting the districts in Seberang Prai.

In addition, there is a proposed cable car project to link the island and the mainland, to be implemented and completed by 2018 by transport hub Penang Sentral builder Malaysian Resources Corp Bhd.

Lim said the cable cars, when ready, would ensure faster travel of 15 minutes across the sea, and offers a “romantic” spectacle, especially after dark when lit by LED lights.

Enthusiastic about the big plans in the pipeline, he said locals on the mainland and a majority of the state population would be supportive of the master plan.

“Are we going to get cold feet just because some people oppose it? It will be a question of how we trade-off, but we are willing to trade our popularity for the future. We are going for broke,” he said.

It is not the first time the DAP-led state government has pushed forward a mega-project on its own without any financial backing from the federal government.

In the run-up to the 2013 general election, the state proposed the ambitious undersea tunnel project and three highway projects which drew objections from NGOs.

Faced with criticism, Lim told voters before the elections not to vote for his administration if they rejected the tunnel.

The opposition coalition was returned for a second term with the highest popular vote recorded in the state at 68%, 10% more than in 2008.

“We expect the federal government to continue to discriminate and to slowly constrict us like a python.”

Penang, he said, was now choked with traffic because it was a popular tourism destination, which has caused overcrowding at the Penang International Airport.

“We were expected to reach 6.5 million in passenger arrival by 2020 but we reached that number this year. The airport is like a pasar malam (night market), but there are no plans by the federal government to expand it at the moment.

“So we have this problem, and we are choked with congestion and choked of funds. Are we going to twiddle our thumbs, sit down and wait to die?”

Of the two islands proposed to be reclaimed for the PTMP, one is planned for the future expansion of the Bayan Lepas free industrial zone and airport.

The other is proposed for housing and the state administration centre.

Lim said any reclamation must pass the detailed environment impact assessment (DEIA).

He also said the state was open to suggestions of alternatives.

Asked if such land reclamation and land swap deals were more favourable to developers than the people, hence the remark that the Penang Pakatan Harapan government was a “pro-developer” administration, Lim said things were done differently now.

He said the state government’s formula of swapping reclaimed land was different from its predecessor’s because the state would still be calling the shots.

“When the land is reclaimed, it will belong to the state, not the developer. We will auction off the land. Under the previous government, developers reclaimed and the land belonged to them.”

Lim said the “pro-developer” accusation was “all slander” and “typical cheap politicking”.

When Aspen Vision Land was mentioned as example of a developer seen to be close to the state, Lim said it finally brought in Swedish furniture giant IKEA to the state which Penang folk wanted for a long time.

“Aspen bosses are also involved in the FAP (Football Association of Penang), and the state wants to develop Penang football. So we work closely with them. Football is also very important.

“But we have our own KPI (key performance indicator). We do everything by open tenders.”

Lim said the state government could make special arrangements if a developer could bring in something of quality like a university or big business like IKEA.

Source: TheEdgeProperty.com.my

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  1. IR buyer
    December 31st, 2015 at 11:00 | #1

    Marine impact studies mostly are against man made island. For example, the palm island in Dubai had a terrible marine life impact.

    However, it’s not totally a lost if the island is managed properly and carefully crafted to in fact boost marine life by creating artificial reefs.

    To the more observant, the biggest destroyer of our environment are the local citizens who do their own recreational renovations and inconsiderately polluting our air and waters.

    But then again… Do we really want to be chocked out of choice for transport and development?

  2. buaya
    December 31st, 2015 at 11:52 | #2

    @IR buyer

    No, we don’t have to be choked out of choice for transport and development. Building more roads and highways are not the answer for “development”. It’s easy to build mega roads to boost GDP, any tom, dick and harry gov can do that. Easy. But what actually we need to achieve instead is to boost people’s income without the mega roads. When you can boost people’s income, development will naturally come, without needing the mega roads.

  3. Tan
    December 31st, 2015 at 16:10 | #3

    High income people like ceo or multi billionaire also stuck on the tiny road, how can say dont need road bro

  4. Tan
    December 31st, 2015 at 16:14 | #4

    Multi billionaire in penang also need to jam in traffic and road in their bmw or merz , u sure dont need road bro?

  5. buaya
    December 31st, 2015 at 17:47 | #5


    No need, no need. What we need to do is to make driving in BMWs and Mercs look stupid, so that people won’t want to drive, and therefore you don’t need more roads.

  6. apamau
    December 31st, 2015 at 18:15 | #6

    Bro Buaya.. you wanna boost GDP, where to build new plant ? u hv less and less land.
    and tourism and more traffics means more visitors means more tourist income, that’s also boost gdp, so, if you have good transport, less jam, even more tourist can travel to penang and within penang easily, wouldn’t it boost gdp ?

    unless if hv other better idea not doing anything can still boost gdp, pls shared with us

  7. Island
    December 31st, 2015 at 19:30 | #7

    Buaya don’t need roads and highways which we have to understand.

  8. Tan
    January 1st, 2016 at 13:40 | #8

    Ya buaya swim at river only lol

  9. IsaacTan
    January 1st, 2016 at 14:53 | #9

    Happy New Year to all!
    State government really had limited choice but to reclaim or sell land in order to support the idea of building better infrastructure.
    In order to improve GDP, of course need to improve infrastructure. Do not know howcome there’s such an idea that not necessary to have better infrastructure. Maybe prefer caught in traffic jam and late to work with a good excuse????
    Still support to build a better infrastructure even is a far away planning. With planning at least better than no planning….Good start and hope it will be better for New Year of 2016

  10. Sam
    January 2nd, 2016 at 06:41 | #10

    The only unchanged thing is change itself, so we (human) are foreward looking and better off in thinking. Right ?

  11. Rebecca
    January 2nd, 2016 at 11:19 | #11

    Happy New Year to all!! To go forward Penang needs good transportation. This is an excellent plan from a State government who wants to improve our quality of life. I wish we could travel on water to avoid all the traffic jams. There is so little productivity in Malaysia due to spending so much time on the roads. Overseas people have got this kind of problem sorted out because it impacts daily life and quality of life. Tourism is affected…….independent tourists find it difficult moving around. Keep going Penang……you have all my support.

  12. Ang
    January 2nd, 2016 at 12:03 | #12

    With this PTMP project, it is a good start of having the plan to be implemented for the good of people in Penang, besides, it is not only good for people in Penang but also goof for ecomonic as well as business opportunity. understand that there is small group of people is objecting but if you look at the long term, eventually, it is more advantages as long as environment impact is well managed and those concerns are addressed. my 2cents.

  13. Tan
    January 2nd, 2016 at 13:26 | #13

    Ya the master plan is good one , but hope can finish all before 2020 then will be dream come true lol

  14. buaya
    January 2nd, 2016 at 13:43 | #14

    You go to China, the cities are cramped with highways, and their quality of life is miserable.

    If you do an intelligent analysis on high income nations in the world, you’d realize some of the countries with the highest GDP per capita actually have the lowest highway per capita ratio, and they enjoy the best quality of life. How do they do it? Simply by thinking SMART.

    During the 18th century, people tried to build the world’s BIGGEST semaphore chain of stations (flag signalling) so that communications can be done faster and further. And then Alex Graham Bell showed them a smarter way of doing that, the PHONE.

    Bigger and more are not always better. Think out of the box, don’t be a rat (competing in a rat race).

  15. max
    January 2nd, 2016 at 16:39 | #15

    Yes, we need this…good one!

  16. Loh
    January 2nd, 2016 at 17:02 | #16

    MRT MRT MRT!!!

  17. Joo Joo
    January 3rd, 2016 at 12:24 | #17

    Good job for Penang Gov!

  18. Andy
    January 3rd, 2016 at 13:45 | #18

    Let the Pan Island Highway project roll off first from Gottlieb Rd to Bayan Lepas airport.
    at least it will solve a partial island congestion…

  19. Go4mainland
    January 4th, 2016 at 11:07 | #19

    We want LRT and MRT

  20. kayabun
    January 4th, 2016 at 12:42 | #20


    I agree with you, we should be able to do better without the highways. Afterall, we are only a state with a population of not more than 2 mil. It’s should be quite easy to double up their income if the state knows how to put in the right strategy.

  21. chocolate
    January 4th, 2016 at 13:24 | #21

    I don’t mind staying at Batu Feringgi and work at FIZ if the highway can cut down my travel time to 30mins.

  22. Sam
    January 4th, 2016 at 17:47 | #22

    @chocolate There is already a highway to be bulit for alternative route from Batu Ferringhi to Mt Erskine. But till now no sign for construction without any reason.

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