Penang open for business at very attractive rates?


Blog reader Michael wrote this in response to the drive to open up Penang to Big Business from foreign shores.

Michael writes:

It is interesting what politicians will say to a foreign audience and not to a local audience.

“We are putting ourselves on the map – that Penang is open for business, and you can set up your plants here at very attractive rates.”

What does this mean exactly?

(Keeping) wages of factory workers (low) in Penang to enable “very attractive rates”?

Tax free incentives, suspended ground rents, low electricity/water tariffs, to enable “very attractive rates”?

Both the above exploit local populations, low wages and low taxes mean big profit that will return to foreign shores, the crumbs are left behind to clean up the pollution and environmental damage resulting from this exercise in futility.

There are so many examples around the world of multinational corporations demanding extremely favourable conditions from a host country … or they either won’t come or threaten to leave.

Currently the economic god seems to be the need for foreign investment (to fuel endless economic growth) and the mantra from governments is if we don’t win the race to get as much as possible, we will get left behind. Fear is a driving factor behind this gullibility and it is stoked and made to roar by the multinational corporations themselves.

This is the blind leading the blind to eventual environmental and societal destruction.

While a quiescent population slumbers on, the state and national politicians run hard and fast with their beautiful earth, Penang being a special corner of it.

READ MORE:  1990s heritage inventory listed over 100 buildings from all over Penang

Fortunately,among the sleeping millions, many awake and sound the alarm and make suggestions:

Maybe we have been sold a myth:

– endless pursuit of wealth actually is not the road to a richer life

– Cooperation not Competition should be at the heart of any decision-making

– People Power is not weak but stronger than the Power of Money

– that we actually do not need the latest gadgets, the latest cars, the latest everything

– that to live simply is not stupid but an extremely intelligent way to a good healthy life

– that grabbing people’s land is wrong

– that brain-washing people is criminal

– that, that, that…..

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  1. Good to see that the Penang exco has banned foreigners from being employed as cooks at hawker stalls, in a move to preserve the state’s food heritage. 87% of people surveyed supported the proposal. Penangites will in time to come be paid well to pursue a career as a street food cooks.

  2. In the borderless world, one can dream big and bring our talent beyond our own shore. China is a big market and knowing Mandarin is certainly an asset.

    Shila Amzah knew this to base in Shanghai and sing Chinese songs. Of course this has make Utusan unhappy when Shila returned home for a mini concert singing mostly chinese songs, as reported on TV3 Melody gossip show recently.

    • Malays should learn Mandarin for the reason you mentioned. The Malays somehow like K Pop and dramas from Korea but fail to realize that they have opportunity to learn Mandarin in SJK vernacular schools in Malaysia to gain the asset. A pass of BM at PMR is good enough to get you by in daily conversation and communication with the civil service, no added advantage even if you have distinction in BM at STPM.

    • JL only does his CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) when called upon by BeEnd eg before election to provide… entertainment (K-Pop at Han Chinag).
      Hie Jynwel Capital private equity is based in Hong Kong and now he is collaborating with Abu Dhabi government (as advisory) to buy Reebok from Adidas worth RM7.2 Billion !
      Gerakan can call upon him to thrash Pakatan in Penang with promises to be revealed later ?

  3. We are proud of our 14-year old Penang girl 李佩玲 who is featured in 中国梦想秀 (Chinese Dream Show) in China recently:

    • this talented girl being polished by Astro and now export to Bigger World in China to gain wider audience — she’s a better ambassador than Michelle Yeo or Jimmy Choo to win back tourists from China.

      she is adopted by Chinese parents when her Indian parent deserted her for reasons unknown to audience. However, she is truly a 1Malaysia singing good mandarin song to vow the world !

    • Such talent is never recognised in Bolehland. What a waste. So it is natural that they seek their dream in foreign land where their talents are appreciated with no concern for the color of their skin.

  4. NTV7 news at 5.30pm today: Najib at Geralkan assembly said DAP did not build affordable homes but bring congestion to Penang, and little investment compared to Gerakan era. Najib must have read the comments of Yang, tunglang and ananars in this blog?

    But how to believe our PM when he also said BN and Umno menolak extremism. Strangely Gerakan folks did not ask him why Ibrahim Ali was not charged under their beloved Sedition Act for his threat to burn Bibles?

    • You must be living in your own myopia world with Niau Kong incense.
      Penangites who are not happy are not made of 3-some.
      You go walk the market place & gauge for yourself.
      As for investment, who are you to say that some are against it just b’cos of development issues which affects the environment, manipulation of property pricing & a host of related problems.

      Comment like an adult & not shoot like some trolls with no common senses but idolising beyond believe.

      • Stupid to blame the local government when such problems are aplenty in other states as well. It shows the ignorance and poor understanding of current issues.

    • Can’t blame you for your rote-learning of George W Bush’s “you’re either with us, or against us” propagated by your fear-inducing & hate-playing idol Niau Kong.

      • “you’re either with us, or against us” is adopted by Najib. Otherwise why he would he told the chinese that you cannot expect BN to hand you goodies if you continue to vote for Pakatan?

    • NTV7 News at 5.30pm is targeting at Chinese audience to provide feel good factor to the chinese on Najib. But the reporting and emphasis of the event is reported differently on TV3 or NTV7 Malay news focusing on hitting at Pakatan, with little mention of moderate way to soothe the Chinese.

  5. Penang will boost its efforts to draw more Singaporean investors following its recent partnership with the republic’s Temasek Holdings to develop a RM11.3 billion business and a technology hub.-
    PDC and Temasek are forming a joint venture company to develop the Penang Technology Park (PITP) and BPO Prime complex in Batu Kawan and Bayan Baru respectively. EDIS is providing project management services for the venture.

  6. Generation X folks in Penang are now in their 50s nearing or reaching retirement age. They may have benefited from the manufacturing boom of the 90s during the peak of their career.

    But manufacturing sector in Penang island is at sunset as Malaysia could not leap into higher value manufacturing with R&D because on constant reliance of low wages advantage with foreign labour. Problem is caused by poor education policy that produced low quality workforce while good graduates are readily absorbed by Singapore.

    Many Generation X folks are compounded by mid-life crisis as Penang is making the long delayed and paunful transition towards service oriented industry. Most of them could not cope with the changes (retirement is nearing and high cost of living is worrying) and choose to blame the development, and conveniently find the Cat as scapegoat.

    I see the entry of Temasek to Penang as a positive news to Generation Y folks to gain jobs in business process service sector.

    Kudos to LGE for this collaboration with Temasek and Singapore government as the federal government is not helping Penang enough to woo new investors.

    • MITI limiting FDI opportunities in Penang to put pressure on CAT so that Grk Teng can make inroads in next GE?
      LGE on road trip to Taiwan n Spore to encourage investment minus the under table practice that drive away serious investors?

      • LGE alleged MIDA failed to act on state letters for support or follow up on potential investments and that Mida’s neglect had become serious enough that a large international firm was giving up interest in Penang and Malaysia because of delays.

        It is not just about lack of referal. It is (allegedly) sabotaging investors sourced by the Penang State Government.

    • Many small towns in Malaysia are desperately seeking for external injection of fund (via foreign investment or tourist dollars) to raise the income of the residents, without which will mean their children leaving for cities for jobs. This is an economic reality that some Penang islanders tend to forget or choose to ignore.

      Before questioning the coming of big business from foreign shores, one should first ask if there is enough local talents in Penang with creative and entrepreneur abilities to generate the value-added business buzz via breakthrough in product design/creation. I can say the rote-learning education system in Malaysia is a big stumbling block. Even the MUET is no solution to the falling standard of English proficiency among the graduates.

      For those that are not able to adapt to the rapid changing landscape of Penang island, the solution is to move to the small towns on the mainland to relive the good old days. But I bet they (especially their Gen Y children) will soon complain again when they live the rural life 24/7 and 365 days a year.

  7. sorry a tad off tangent. see below

    t prevailing global oil prices, Malaysians are not only unsubsidised for RON95 but paying higher than market prices, Perak DAP said.

    Its economic bureau chief Chong Zhemin said that this is as global petrol price was at US$84.47 (RM277) yesterday.

    Citing AmResearch analysis, he said, RON95 prices should be RM2.30 per litre without government subsidy if global oil price is US$84.80 (RM278).

    Now that it is US$0.53 (RM1.74) per barrel lower than that, he said, “Malaysians are now effectively paying fuel tax for RM95”.

    Chong added that AmResearch had estimated that global oil prices will drop 10 percent, shrinking the the government’s subsidy bill by whopping RM35.6 billion.

    “With global oil plummeted more than 11 percent, Putrajaya must be transparent on how will the RM35.6 billion fuel subsidy savings be spent,” he said.

    Cut petrol prices now

    As such, he urged the government to reduce the price of RON95 and diesel with immediate effect.

    He also urged the government to pass on the subsidy savings to the road users who are already paying a sizeable sum in transport-related taxes.

    According to the 2015 Budget, the government will collect a total RM17.3 billion in transport-related taxes through excise duty, car sales tax, import duty and vehicle licenses.

    The government earlier this month slashed RON95 and diesel subsidies by 20 sen, bringing pump prices up to RM2.30 and RM2.10 respectively.

    • ttt : Don`t be brainwashed by those external and opposition articles. Per liter is about RM1.74 and this is black unrefined oil. Have you count the cost of transporting this black oil to the refinery, the cost of refinery, the cost of transport of refine oil to the petrol station and the commission to the petrol station owner. And most important what about the profit to the oil company.

      Do you think 2.30 – 1.75 = .RM0.55 will be able to cover for all the above cost. ?????. Just the petrol station commission of 8% will come to about RM 0.18 cents.

  8. Who is hard pressed in terms of investments from MNCs or from local rich fellas?
    Who makes the decisions to invite foreign investments with all the attractions laid out on the nego tables on behalf of local citizens who may or may not depend on job opportunities from them?
    Who knows exactly what the locals want?

    To pander to foreign corporations just bços job creations is their turfs is preposterous.
    Why not sell Penangites like sweat shop slaves as did the Europeans and Arabs sold Africans to the New World America?
    History is repeating itself in the guise of global consumerism.

    • orang bunian better come to penang island to enjoy chendol. locals cannot afford price increase at RM3.90 at Prangin Mall teochew chendol. Do come over to keep the business alive while we locals continue to stand enjoying chendol at the lorong with fresh air blowing from chowrasta market 🙂

    • Penang was once rife with unemployment and crimes until Dr.Lim Chong Eu, with his foresight, decided to create Free Trade Zones with tax free incentives to encourage foreign companies to set up manufacturing plants with the capacity to provide employment to huge number of the island’s populace. This set the pace for the growth and prosperity for the island as these foreign investments not only hired many people but also opened up opportunities for many layers of supporting industries and businesses. The initiative was so successful to the point that the people from other parts of the country moved to Penang to seek employment as demand for workers exceeded the number that could be supplied locally. The demand for workers, especially during the 1990s, also saw the wages, benefits and work conditions for the workers to improve vastly not only in Penang, but also in many other parts of the country. Besides, many of the MNCs also took the lead in CSR. For instance, the ozone depleting CFCs chemicals were banned from used in line with the larger corporate global policies while pressure was applied on their vendors and suppliers to follow suit.

      It is a well known fact that few of our home-grown businesses have got the capability, resources and know-how to create the types of jobs in order to absorb the thousands of local graduates being churned out yearly. It is no fault of the MNCs if the local wages has not made much headway lately as wages and other forms of compensations are dependent on market forces, as exemplified in the steep wage increases in the 1990s. In fact, it is not the MNCs but the smaller businesses that are facing difficulties to cope with the RM900/- minimum wage policy.

      Lastly, employment in MNCs and other legitimate businesses in this country cannot be equate to slavery as the employees are free to leave any employer just as they are free to take up any employment being offered while simultaneously being protected by the Labour Law and Industrial Relations Court. And btw, is the Botak Hill the creation of MNCs or some local developers?

  9. Aren’t the giant multi-national corporations the market leader in terms of wages, benefits and work environment in this country to the point that many SMEs or even smaller foreign business set-ups are hard pressed in trying to keep up with them?

    • If Michael has his wishes granted, I cannot guarantee if his children will choose to stay in Penang or move to other cities for jobs and the lifestyle of the young generation. This is a reality of generation gap.

    • If Michael teaches & guides his children well, there will be more like-minded Michaels living in Utopia Penang (not CosmoKapitan Penang).
      All said, there will be more senses to live a happy, good & balanced life.

  10. That is the only attraction Malaysia has to offer to foreign investors and it has nothing else to, but don’t forget that under the table practices are a must in Malaysia if one plans to survive and don’t forget to include them in your budget.

    • You are right. Look at Iskandar Johor where land and sea (for reclamation) are offered to foreign developers to build expensive homes that the local cannot afford.

      • The Malaysian Insider has reports that average Johor folks could not afford the new homes, 8 years after all the hypes of Iskandar development.

    • The upcoming mixed-use development in Penang by Temasek and Penang Development Corporation (PDC) is targeting international companies as tenants in a bid to bolster Penang’s role as a major business process outsourcing (BPO) hub. The Economic Development Innovations Singapore Pte Ltd (EDIS) said that it hopes to draw international names to set up shop in the 2.7 hectare mixed-use site, which is about seven minutes’ drive from the second Penang bridge and the Penang airport.

      Known as BPO Prime, the project in the Bayan Baru township will have a total gross development value (GDV) of S$500 million when completed in two to three years, said EDIS, the project’s master development manager. The combined built-up area for both office and residential towers will be about 1.6 million sq ft, EDIS said. The office towers will have a floor-plate size of at least 20,000 sq ft – a size that is currently not available in Penang.


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