Gentrification alert! Developer snaps up some 200 George Town properties


Kopitiam operator Wang Teng Kok, who specialises in Siamese chicken rice, is not a happy man. He has until 30 November 2016 to vacate his well patronised coffee-shop premises fronting Penang Road.

World Class Land evictint tenants in Lorong Bertam area.

Teng Kok, who employs 10 workers, is currently paying RM3,500 in monthly rental for the shoplot. His two-year tenancy agreement expired on 31 August 2016.

The shop he operates from, along with 25 others at Penang Road and Bertam Lane, has been sold by the landlord to companies affiliated to World Class Land, in his case WCL (Bertam L) Sdn Bhd.

World Class Land evictint tenants in Lorong Bertam area.

World Class Land is the property arm of Singapore’s Aspial Corporation Ltd, which started out as a traditional jeweller in 1970. The firm now has property development projects and investments in Singapore, Australia and Malaysia. Aspial is headed by CEO Koh Wee Seng, the son of the family jewellers who is now ranked 43rd among Singapore’s 50 Richest by Forbes.

“We are deeply concerned that ONE company (regardless of foreign or local) is uprooting a great number of families and gutting a number of heritage buildings in George Town,” says George Town Heritage Action founder Mark Lay.

World Class Land evictint tenants in Lorong Bertam area.

“The WCL model is to buy, evict tenants, renovate, build and drastically increase rentals which local Penangites are mostly unable to afford.”

Over at Noordin Street/Gurdwara Road nearby, 37 houses have been targeted in one spot alone. All tenants have been evicted.

The firm’s overall plan appears to be to increase floor space by building high-rise blocks. In Melbourne, WCL is building the southern hemisphere’s tallest residential tower, the 101-storey Australia 108.

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In George Town, WCL has submitted an application to build a 46-storey tower block that would rival nearby 65-storey Komtar in height. The application involves the demolition of 11 houses to be replaced by 115 condos and office space.

The application has not yet been approved. What this means is that such plans can still be stopped by the authorities without having to pay any compensation.

Noordin Street/Gurdwara Road lies in the Seven Streets Precinct, which was included by the city council in a dossier to Unesco in 2008 as worthy of conservation. But because the precinct lies outside the protected Unesco heritage buffer zone, conservation guidelines are lax and it has become the latest playground for developers. This may explain why WCL has snapped up 128 properties in the entire precinct, according to Mark (see below):

WCL snaps up 128 houses in 7 Streets Precinct

The George Town Heritage Action founder is at pains to stress that WCL is doing nothing illegal. If anything, it is going by the book.

“But there is a moral issue at stake here,” he says, that is the loss of diversity both in the built and intangible cultural heritage of George Town.

That’s not to mention the displacement of the established local community.

Mark suggests five steps that could be taken to stop or slow down WCL’s bulk purchases of heritage properties:

  • Limit the change of use for heritage buildings.
  • Zone out certain activities – ie high-end businesses which do not benefit the local community.
  • Make use of provisions of the Penang Heritage Enactment/Penang Heritage Regulations 2016 (which comes into forces today). The enactment provides for the position of an all-powerful state heritage commissioner, who can “declare any cultural heritage and natural heritage as state heritage”.
  • Involve the National Heritage Department (JWN) – should the buffer zone be extended to cover Seven Streets Precinct?
  • Involve Unesco – seek advice/comments when Unesco officials come to assess Sia Boey.
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As things stand, the state appears to be leaving the Seven Streets Precinct as a free-for-all area to be gobbled up by property developers who want to turn it into an ‘international city’ – and all that it implies.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Mark suggests that the new state heritage commissioner could declare the precinct as part of state heritage, worthy of conservation.

Otherwise, what we are faced with now, he warns, is a Unesco world heritage site in inner city George Town while next to it, another world is emerging: a playground for the rich – similar to the superficial heritage trappings, fancy eateries and glitzy lights of Nagore Road – that is well beyond the reach of ordinary Penangites. Indeed, gentrification is fast swallowing up the cultural and natural heritage of the area.

What is gentrification? According to Benjamin Grant in

Gentrification is a general term for the arrival of wealthier people in an existing urban district, a related increase in rents and property values, and changes in the district’s character and culture. The term is often used negatively, suggesting the displacement of poor communities by rich outsiders. But the effects of gentrification are complex and contradictory, and its real impact varies.

Many aspects of the gentrification process are desirable. Who wouldn’t want to see reduced crime, new investment in buildings and infrastructure, and increased economic activity in their neighborhoods? Unfortunately, the benefits of these changes are often enjoyed disproportionately by the new arrivals, while the established residents find themselves economically and socially marginalised.

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  1. Pak Phai Hang Cheng or spoil the market scene Singapore irritates some but bring pleasure of many 2nd/3rd generations owners of pre war heritage shophouses.

    Imagine how to physically divide up the house among the inheritance? So Spore is the saviour. Lets say RM1.6 million for a dilapidated old unit, then if divide between let’s say 2 then each get RM800k.

    RM800k can get a decent new condo of RM600k, and balance RM200k for a old couple to daily shake legs drinking kopi where ever in Penang and log into reading heritage dongeng from the likes of tunglang!

    • For decades these owners have derived little rental yield during the era of Rent Control.
      It is logical that they cash in now for the windfall to improve their livelihood in their twilight years.
      No guilt since their units are not defined within the heritage zone.

    • Rich Malaysians also buy up Singapore properties to spoil their market. Genting boss is from Malaysia taking up prime estate in Sentosa for Resort World.

      • Singaporeans will argue that the influx of Malaysian talents escaping NEP in Malaysia also deprive the locals their jobs.

  2. Stop selling state land to foreigners, PKR man tells Penang government

    GEORGE TOWN: A PKR leader today has urged the DAP-led state government to stop selling anymore state land, especially to foreigners.

    PKR Tanjung division chief Ng Chek Siang said since there was only limited amount of state land left, the state government must decide wisely on ways to develop Penang in line with the needs of its people.

    Ng said housing has always been a point of contention for many Penangites and problems associated with housing included affordability and location.

    He said as land is a scarce commodity, prices kept on increasing especially on the island state.

    “As such, I strongly urged the state government not to sell anymore state land, especially to foreigners.

    “Save whatever land we have left for our future generations – make them into green lungs, build public housing or just anything that will be beneficial to the public except selling them for a profit.

    “Helping Penangites improve their livelihood and environment should be a duty and first priority of the state government!” he said in a statement.

    The DAP-led administration has constantly come under fire from various quarters, accusing it of selling land to foreigners, which could be developed to help the locals.

    There were also reports that foreigners, mostly from Singapore, purchasing pre-war shophouses in George Town and renting them out many times the previous rate, sparking complaints by locals.

    © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd

    • China now focus on Melaka prperties eg Gateway Melaka.

      Its a matter of time begore the shift focus to majority chinese Penang island.

      The Singapore investment consortium is smart as they can possibly sell those refurbished shoplots at even higher prices to the communist mainland China.

      So lets just wait and see the second wave of foreign buyings of heritage Penang.

      Wonder why local rich tychoons like Vincent/Robin Tan of Berjaya willing to buy up Korea Jeju property and Cardiff football lub but no confidence in Penang?

  3. This morning, I went to Komtar Pos Office to pay bills, then walked to Lorong Bertam passing by Hock Seong Choon Kopitiam.
    I chanced upon the “Siam Ke” (Siamese) Chicken Rice Ori-Maestro. I asked about his affected business & he told me he will
    relocate to Kek Seng Kopitiam further down the Penang Road. He told me more house tenants in the vicinity will face the same predicament.
    His parting shot: “Ha-mih lang e-kam soe? Chi-le Singapore Lang cho phai hang-cheng!”
    ( Who can truly afford to rent? These Singaporeans really spoil the market! )
    Some months ago, I got the same response from my friend who is still a business tenant in the same shop in Lebuh Armenian.
    Retiring his auto car aircon business of more than 30 yrs, he is now renting out tricycles to tourists.
    His parting shot: “Chi-le Singapore Lang cho phai hang-cheng!”

    • Have you tasted the Siam Ke?
      What is your verdict?
      Value for money?
      Recommend to Anil readers?
      Got picture to showcase?

      • Why should I show & tell to satisfy your Angry-Bird questioning?
        Just go there & call for “Siam Ke” lah! Aren’t you a man?
        Or is it your Venerable taught you how to angry-question after a life’s experience of Am-A-See-See Questioning?

      • Next time whoever at Kek Seng kopitiam (could be a heritage icon since in operation for many decades) when order Siam Or chicken rice, do get side order of its famous icekacang topped up with icecream.
        However, Anil may not get free WiFi there to do work.

      • Komtar just opposite, yet no Penang Wifi?
        What a shame of great promises ala 308!!!

      • Anil should be able to get telco sponsor for Free Wifi access 24/7 anywhere in Penang.
        Perhaps this is one of the perks in Penang Forum?

      • Janji Free Wifi di seluruh Penang, tapi tak boleh pakai!
        Jangan lah shiok-shiok orang (hanya untuk memancing Undi) jika tak mampu buat apa yang menyilai seperti Pontianak!

      • Wang must be very disappointed that tunglang has refused to promote his stall when given the opportunity. Refusal to comment could give impression to readers that the food is not good. Maybe Wang did not give discount to please tunglang?

    • In order to appeal to young customers, Mr Wang may consider switching from Thai chicken to Korean Fried chicken, which is very popular among the K-Pop generation watching the Korean dramas. Korean Fried Chicken with cold beer will be a hit in the evening. Just a suggestion for him when he restart his business at Keng Seng kopitiam (once famous for its Law Bak?). Mr tunglang can relay my suggestion to him.

      • Are you proposing that “Siam Ke” be rebranded + repackaged as shortie-skirtie “Han Kok Ke”?
        How can Mr Wang afford to employ 3-some or 4-some “Han Kok Ke” K-poping + dancing along ‘go kaki’ (5-foot way) to entice customers to taste “Han Kok Ke”???
        “건배 여자” (geonbae yeoja! = Cheers Girls!) will most likely reverberate every evening to reach the top floor of Komtar Tower!

      • Psy at Han Chiang proves Korean wave popularity. Selling chicken with beer extra revenue no harm try out. Can encourage Kek Seng boss plays K-pop to attract younger customers as most retirees at nearby SiaBoey have ‘migrated’ to Relau kopitiams serving more affordable street foods.

      • Kotler 4P marketing to sustain MrWang business.

        Selling chicken rice with fried ones plus beer is one form of product (P) extension.

        Playing thai music sabai sabai as trademark promotion (another P).

        Place (another P) at Kek Seng kopitiam can leverage on its long legacy but parking (5th P) a problem there.

        Price (final P) can set multi tier pricing, badics at RM3 plus add ons.

      • Aren’t you aware you missed one pertinent (P) of “Siam Ke”?
        May I teach you to whisper “Ah Hia, Ah Hia”
        Tis sure to convert sceptics to loyal customers! More so with a Tiger Beer in hand!

        You may try this in time to help revitalise Mr Wang’s “Siam Ke” Chicken Rice business at Kek Seng Kopitiam.
        Remember to let me know when!

  4. Walked along RopeWalk Piazza last Saturday after visiting Thye Huat (hardware shop).
    RopeWalk Piazza is a row of prewar houses recently refurbished by developers for rental to upmarket businesses.
    My observation:
    The 5-foot way is indeed obstruction free & clean & sometimes slippery due to the afternoon rain.
    There are house numbers & letter boxes with symbols etched onto black horizontal plaques ‘build into’ the exterior walls for clear identification & consistency of design.
    Businesses of tenants: A tattoo shop, cafes, waffle shop, restaurants. The image is of course up-market & more for the yuppies.
    Peering in & just for a moment deletes the heritage ambience on the outside, one may mistaken the outlets from Gurney Paragon.

    Walking across the road towards Jalan Cheong Fatt Tze, I came to Kun Kee’s Salute Brand (Chap Tabik) Kopi-O factory & office.
    It is a generations-old family business well known among the older Penangites who love affordable Penang style Kopi-O.
    The office now has a modern setting to keep up with the times (might be the business is now run by the younger generation?).
    I am not sure whether the 2 facing buildings are owned by Kun Kee Food Industries or otherwise. Comes gentrification, I believe this famous brand will just relocate sap sap soi.

    Of the two businesses of different times, which one will last into the future?
    Your consumer support will to a large extent determine their fate.
    I will still buy 2 packets (of 30 sachets each) of Chap Tabik for my daily satisfaction of drinking Penang style Kopi-O without burning a hole in my pocket.

    • Baby Boomers can appreciate the classic nanyang flavored kopi but Gen Y would prefer to have their names written on the Sta.rbucks coffee cup.

      Nowadays the father may want a family dinner at Chu-char stall of kopitiam, but their children would insist on Dragon-i dinner. Sign of the time.

    • Of the two businesses of different times, which one will last into the future?

      Retailers/restaurants are targeting iPhone generation (usually not smart in financial management) who have higher propensity to spend on easy credit (from parents and banks). While Nokia generation has fond memories of old establishments, they seldom part with their money easily nowadays to keep their beloved business afloat.

      So more likely for Chap Tabik to make way for Old Town or Ah Huat, if not Starbucks, to feed the consumer behavior of the smartphone generation.

      • Old Town in Farlim opposite 1 Malaysia Clinic closed shop many moons ago.
        I was told the same in Perak Road.
        Ah Huat sells coffee with money prizes to entice customers. Ah Niu plays coffee boy to entertain potential coffee drinkers.
        At the end of the day, it’s the heavenly taste of Genuine Kopi that counts. Compared to Coffee Tree’s Penang White Coffee, Ah Huat ‘bi bo kopi-ien’.
        Let’s see which brands will last into the future.
        When the customer base is increasingly going to be bankrupt, the brand that feeds their bin-chui ego is most likely to slip on slippery market share!
        More so for bland or me-too slippery bling-bling brands that have no differentiation & unique brand values to grow with customer aspirations.

      • You have a point. Unfortunately the younger generation does not think like you.

      • Unfortunately for the brands that crave for a share of unstable consumer market, brand building is going to be a practice of nightmare & cyclical change of niche marketing strategies! Good luck to the marketing department.

      • Ah Niu at Sunshine Square last Sunday promoting Ah Huat kopi. Unfortunately, he didn’t speak much hokkien as most of his young fans prefer Mandarin. The goings don’t know what the actual meaning of Huat? May be Heng Ong Huat rally call when they reach voting age?

        Cap Tabik kopi o also getting more expensive. Tunglang should check out once in a while tabik offer at Pacific Komtar after regular haunt at new Rope Walk Little Spore!

      • Cap Tabik kopi o also getting more expensive?
        Pls go to Sui Hwa Supermarket to buy a packet (of 30 sachets) @ Rm9.90.
        The ubiquitous Red packet that beats many me-too-brands with fancy packaging or shouting prize money – “Huat ah, huat ah, huat ah!”

      • Young people likes Latte as they can have coffee art with the cream on top.
        Also they find it cool to be seen hanging out at Starbucks.

      • Savour every sip of your coffee.

        Coffee could become extinct if global warming continues on its current trajectory, according to a report by The Climate Institute. By 2050, researchers said, the amount of suitable coffee farmland is expected to have halved due to rising temperatures, pests and fungi. Wild coffee is expected to be wiped from the face of the planet by the year 2080.

      • So, all the more for sustainable development without the wild cat development rampage of endangered Nature!

      • Ah Huat and Ali Cafe are both from the same company. Same product but different packaging to appeal to different market segments. They can further tap into Indian market share if they launch Kabali cafe, but the royalty will not come cheaply.

      • I thought Ali Cafe was no better than Ah Huat!
        What a brand extension exercise that brings no quantum leap of brand quality of the “Oomph”

  5. Can the heritage association put in place the regulation of development around the heritage area. Like maximum height of building. The do and don’t. Abd social responsibility that they must made. Development must go on, is good to have money in and grow Penang. And don’t always think singaporean is bad, there are a lot of good people in Singapore who can support charity. I only against cutting hill for building.

    • Willing seller and willing buyer. a gee can take action like LGE. Or pg forum very good in proposing bfc plan alternate to ptp. Pg forum has many NGOs. Others can only complain and bark. No solution.

    • For start, ask yourself if you ever frequent that kopitiam and eat the chicken rice of Mr Wang to support him? Or are you a customer of the Chicken Rice Shop fastfood chain instead?

      • Kotler 4P marketing to sustain MrWang business.

        Selling chicken rice with fried ones plus beer is one form of product (P) extension.

        Playing thai music sabai sabai as trademark promotion (another P).

        Place (another P) at Kek Seng kopitiam can leverage on its long legacy but parking (5th P) a problem there.

        Price (final P) can set multi tier pricing, badics at RM3 plus add ons.

  6. Assuming the 200 houses were bought @ Rm1 million each (averaged out) over a time period,
    and to quote a Malaysiakini news: since April 2014, foreigners were subjected to an approval fee of three percent on top of the purchase price
    of the properties purchased by them.
    CAT must be gleefully salivating to approve such mass purchase: a tidy sum of Rm6 million from the 3% charged as approval fees for the 200 houses purchased!
    Who cares if the madness of foreigner purchasing has (weepingly) halved by now but the tidy sum has bloated the state coffer for annual rounds of show offs!

    Got Money? Anything Can AOK (Kaotim). Even if one wants to buy another’s grandmother!

    • Why not you become another lim, as become a director and get 1.5% ,fees.they save 1..5% and state Gomen ie pg lang gets zero, kopi kosong. You do not want pg Gomen to earn revenue.

  7. These gentrification projects actually are not that easy to make money. The primary problem is its difficult to add revenue sqf while cost of renovation is much higher than building from scratch. Raising rent is inevitable if you do it BUT, higher rent may not actually bring better return than investing in new virgin land projects. Often these projects are just trophy projects.

    So before going off all negative, it could be the best inevitability you are looking at. A living city or neighbour cannot be antiques or museum, the best guarantee of a living heritage in the long run is its economically relevant.

    • Building on higher grd cannot, building on reclaimed land cannot. So pg forum is giving idea to buy old properties and evict them. So best is to follow the law and tenants orso have to follow.

  8. Singapore has already destroyed most of their Historical sites and screwed up most of their heritage sites too. What they now have is whatever they could salvage when they realised how stupid they were in rushing into “Progress”
    Now these Singaporeans are going to Malaysia and Screw up Penang in the Same way.
    Do not let them screw up your City.

  9. Must we support every seemingly poor tortured folk that has taken to complain publicly that his cheap tenancy agreement has expired and has nowhere cheap to go?
    This siamese chicken rice was displaced from nr where the Komtar Pos Office is, when Komtar was built. It used to be one of the more popular stalls but times change. Try visiting the current shop, not the most comfortable by chicken rice standards nor amongst the more hygienic and tastier of Penang, certainly not Michelin by far.
    So what are we trying to save, a dying business? an old building perhaps of little architectural significance?
    Let us focus on moving forward to a better progressive tomorrow, preserve the unique without stifling Penang’s future. There should always be a reminder of our heritage without omitting progress.

    • Progress is good. But what kind of progress is it when so many get displaced? Progress for whom?

      • Progress for majority should be the focal strategy.

        Those in need of assistance need to be motivated to keep up with changing time.

        Those reluctant to adapt should not forever seek excuses behind the veil of heritage protection.

        Those with ideas should not restrict to writings but translate them to pragmatic actions to benefit the less privileged.

        Those empowered with material resources should not seek profit maximization ROI but be aware of karma consequences to start doing true CSR charity.

      • Internet and computers made many jobs redundant and obsolete. Or we go back riding in Bullock cart ? Change in inevitable. Some would insist evolution and made man adapt. Even job, there will be changes in 3 or 4 in life time.

      • The predicament is similar to those in their 40s being retrenched and remain jobless due to structural unemployment I.e. Skills mismatch to meet the present day demand in the job market. Such disruption will continue to happen and will be accelerated by the rapid technological changes affecting the traditional jobs.

        Capitalism can necessitate periods of massive disruption as the system reboots, but that requires a collective hard look in the mirror and the following appraisal: the decline in domestic jobs is the result of technology and globalization, both of which have enhanced prosperity.

      • Granted. But here is one developer taking over 200 properties in the heart of town. That’s a major disruption.

      • They are not confident of gilakan Gomen. That is why they are willing to put all the eggs into one basket. Why they do not put all the eggs in melaka basket?? There the rates will be multiples of 3%.

    • SINGAPORE — Singapore’s beloved hawker industry faces an uncertain future with a wave of chef retirements imminent, raising questions about who will cook the city state’s signature street-food delights.

      There are over 100 hawker centres and 6,000 stalls in Singapore, run mainly by ageing chefs, with people from all sections of society attracted to the tasty multi-ethnic meals that cost as little as S$2.80.

      But the tough working conditions in the small, basic kitchens and low profits have led many new chefs to look to larger, modern restaurants for bigger revenues.

      Some experienced hawker sellers in Singapore believe the younger generation don’t have what it takes to succeed in the trade.

      • Pg lang have to eat more nasi Kandar, roti prata and less char keow teow and hokkien mee. No problem with Malay and indian food. Good luck to chinese food. We ask for it.

      • Many so-called famous Penang Street food like char kway teow, chendol, Laksa etc have gone upmarket with aircon pricing yet many heritage lovers chose to ignore the vanishing vintage exclusive to Penang types of street servings?

      • Get real. Going upmarket costs lots of money & may lose many local customers who go for affordable hawker food.
        Have some respect for local hawkers many of whom are not well-endowed with money but who care to serve the society well with affordable & cheap meals.
        Gentrification in Penang is ‘killing’ more hawkers than helping to promote Pg hawker food business.
        Going upmarket just to pay hefty rents & earning pittance is not going to cut for any common-sense hawkers, famous or not.

      • Too much emphasis on Nasi Kandar in Penang while the profits made by those mamaks are mostly repatriated back to India, little multiplier effect contribution to the Penang economy. They do not hire locals but import Bangla workers. For that I would support local hawkers that need to feed the family at home.

      • Nasi Kandar was already a staple food for many Indian Muslims esp. in the enclaves of Little india & Kampung Kolam for more than a 100 years.
        Before you were born! So, do appreciate our unique local multi-cultural cuisines without being phobic to the point of distortion.

      • I stopped frequenting the Nasi Kandar stalls in Penang having witnessed the rowdiness of mamak protest at Komtar, with black cakes and coffin.

  10. Gentrification orso happen long ago in Penang, Kuala Lumpur and Kuala Trengganu etc. How come we have chinatown in those places? Not only chinatown but orso little India. Chinatown orso happen in the West and down under. Instead of high-rise, they change the outlook of the place and copied the east into the western architecture. Why western architecture, they change and put chinese arches across the roads into chinatown? Poor ang mohs have to evict or move out for new occupiers. Care to explain gentrification in West and penang

    • Are you being impressed by the “Young Masters” of Gerakan, that have ousted the the 2 old timer Tengs in Penang?

    • “Here’s a suggestion: kick the DAP gomen out of Penang in the next general election.”

      You mean Developers Association of Penang, to be more precise in form & principles?
      Reality Check: The old & angelic DAP is no more, paham kah kebenaran?, trolls & minions.

  11. Tun lang, anil and pg forum ask for it. They can build on 259’ft threshold and reclaim from sea. Where to go? Buy over old properties and evict the dwellers. So suffer more? If so kind hearted why not they buy over those properties? Mind you it is not only 1 willing seller but many willing sellers queing up. Owners rather take the money and enjoy their fruits rather than give to their children or grand children who enjoy the fruits

  12. Why pf come out to help the property owner? He get 3.5k for shop rent and say 2k for above shop a total of 5.5k per month. How much will be the maintenance for old prewar house and new paint cost? Foc? Pg forum has no solution and yet there are hundreds give give their time freely talking but not doing. Action is the key word.

  13. 6am Friday Rain – a Bedroom Drama of Bo-Kia-Bo-Su, Betting Tea & Wet, Wet Botak Head

    Bet-Tea Bor: Ang ah, ang ah! Wake-wake up! Rain lai liau!
    Ai-Bin Ang: Ha-mih? Chhit-goeh koe liau. Rain bo liau mah!
    Bet-Tea Bor: Gua oredi kong – “Botak head, chin-che su!”
    Ai-Bin Ang: Potong, potong liau. Bo-su, bo-su. Lang HongKee can do, lu kia ha-mih? Ini fesyen global – Cosmo-250 Plus!
    Bet-Tea Bor: Loh-ho, be khun. Lu bo-kiaaaaa?
    Ai-Bin Ang: Penang Lang, gua bo-kia.
    Bet-Tea Bor: Ha-le Penang 4-Roomers bising-bising, lu bo-kiaaaaa?
    Ai-Bin Ang: Lim kopi, lim kopi. Bo-su, bo-su.
    Bet-Tea Bor: Ai-bin kui! Look, look your head. So wet, wet! Ai bet tea bo? – lu bo-kiaaaaa?
    Ai-Bin Ang: Gua u 2 heads, which one wet, wet – big one or small one?
    Bet-Tea Bor: Big sweats, small sweats. Still carry big head! Ai bet tea bo?
    Ai-Bin Ang: Yesterday, sweat-sweat oredi. SingKaPoh Lang Be Chhit Tiau Lo.
    Bet-Tea Bor: Ai bet tea bo?

      • Tunglang can ply his hokkien language vanishing trade at Asia Comic Museum at Komtar. Contact Dr Hew Juan Tau aka Superman that you can create authentic Penang hokkien sketches.

  14. Since it is quite difficult for those traditional food vendors to operate in George Town due to the escalating rental and imminent sale of their current shoplots, another way for such food business to thrive is for the state government to set up night market/pasar malam within George Town. Look at Jalan Alor in KL and the various night markets in Taiwan for inspiration.

    Jalan Alor – Food Street in Kuala Lumpur

    Taiwanese Night Market Food Recipes 2016

  15. Perhaps in the other perspective, many of those dilapidated houses can be “revived” and maintained before it collapsed? Just look at some of those conditions, one should not even go in, much less to eat there! Amen…

    • One work also wants to get more pay. No one work for free. One buy shares in companies giving more return. You want to be like mas losing money every year. If company not giving dividends you ask why! You want to have productive workers.

  16. i also do not want to see these shops torn down and redeveloped into some shiny new condo – this looks like the end of Georgetown as we know it (hokkien dying, developers swooping in) – but what is the point of this article ? more importantly – how can we solve this problem ?
    1) can we tell the developers not to redevelop ?
    2) can we tell the landlord/owner not to sell ?
    3) can we submit petition to state govt to block these sales ?
    4) do we go gather in youth park or esplanade with loudspeakers ?
    5) blame LGE / DAP for this ?
    6) can we tell potential buyers of this new project not to buy ?
    7) is it possible or reasonable to say, gazette a bigger part of Georgetown as a heritage site ? (include areas up to Sg Pinang, Macallum, Weld Quay for example)
    8) Perhaps our local NGOs can start a fund to buy up (and preserve) these shoplots (i,e compete with the developers) ? Or tap our Penangkia billionaires (apparently we have a few of them) to buy up these shoplots and donate/lease/lend to a heritage trust ?
    it would be good if we have a plan of action .. the other side already has one and pwning it

    • Elaborating on your point #8, ask yourself why ‘Wang Teng Kok’ cannot become a brand name like ‘Tim Ho Wan’ or ‘Ding Tai Fung’? Or ‘Bertam’ cannot become a ‘Mong Kok’ / ‘Wong Kok’? Even Mark Lay could be repositioned as Kim Gary to bring in customers.

      I leave it to our in-house marketing guru tunglang to further expound his theories on such blue ocean strategy.

    • Not only one willing seller and there is only one willing seller. The willing sellers are queing up in a straight row like lge. Mighty singland dollar and banana ringgit notes. We should start from the basic cause.if not transaction no issue. What do you expect when tokong himself encounter this? But only he did not tear down and rebuilt

  17. A vote for CAT = Gentrification of Pulo Pinang?
    GENTRIFICATION means Gentle (a class above) + Terrific (wow of high-end progress) + Action (death to old world charm Penang & Asian multi-cultures).
    Anil, I hope your blog is not gentrified to the extent of censoring what is meaningful x-pression for laymen’s comprehension.

    I am beginning to equate Gentrification of places to the Indian Caste System of displacement + segregation of society but on the vulture scale.

  18. Once upon a time, tis the ONLY kopitiam where you can ask for “Siam Ke” (literally Siamese Chicken Rice, so Anil, pls don’t misunderstand for gentrification of social discourse).
    The proprietor, a handsome man look-alike to one HongKee action actor would cheekily pronounce his ‘fee’ for a binge of his “Siam Ke” in the thousands. Eg in the 90s, Rm 5.00 for a plate of Chicken Rice + Drumstick + Chicken Liver would be translated into 5 thousand bath! Just can’t help but wonder he’s trying to pull our legs of humour as if his stall is right in the heat of red-light district Bangkok!
    Sorry if this discourse may touch a touchy hornets’ nest of Gentrified Kong Chheng-khi Ua!
    FYI, most of his “Siam Ke” customers are a crowd of both sexes, young & old.
    Regardless, it has been more than 2 decades of Popular “Siam Ke” in Penang Road. Who needs to go to Bangkok? “Sawadikaap!”

    • Siam Ke can be an euphemism for GRO in Hatyai?

      Anyway, here is a good Hokkien song for all, to promote the dialect heritage:
      吃饱没? Jiak Ba Buay (have you Makan?)

    • The young guy who inherited the heritage shoplot from his father must have done his mathematics.
      Option 1: Rent it for RM3,500 a month
      Option 2: Sell the shoplot for RM1.5million, put money in the bank for 3.9% annual FD interest
      Which option will give him a better monthly yield? RM3.5K or RM4.8K?

      • if you think it is s small amount why dont pg lang or pg forum buy them so cheap? even other malaysians will change the features for his investment

      • Foreigners are not allowed to buy landed properties costing less than RM2million on the Penang island since July 2012.

        Purchase of properties by foreigners in Penang has declined by more than 50 percent since 2013, said state executive councillor on housing Jagdeep Singh Deo.

        He said the state government acknowledged that foreigners have stronger purchasing power due to the depreciating ringgit.

        “Bulk buying by them could possibly cause an unnatural increase in property prices in Penang due to speculative activity,” he conceded, in a statement today.

      • What are the federal and state governments doing about bulk purchases by foreigners that displaces local communities?

      • BN – very good foreign money coming in. State – market more active whether black or white cat ad long cat catch mice.

      • I recently talk to one of my suppliers.
        “What do you think of the super-high rentals in George Town mostly caused by SingLanders?
        She said: “Don’t rent lah! See how long they can ‘tahan’?”

  19. 59 years after merdeka, Singapore is now plundering our assets?
    Is this not a sign of our failing economy and weak Ringgit under Regime BN?
    This is a cycle of capitalism. Remember in the 80s Japanese firms were buying up properties along the Gold Coast of Australia, Sony bought up Columbia….
    Good to ponder on this.

      • Why blame state of the land and property belongs to private owner. Do you what change law to suit self interest? How about changing the 250ft limit?

  20. Mamak restaurants in George Town can survive but not Chinese kopitiam?
    Maybe they ought to learn from those mamaks?

      • Actually many traditional kopitiam want to get helping ladies from China, but somehow the idea was shot down by Wanita MCA fearing attractive female helpers can whack the family being part time companions to the hiring bosses as well.

        Personally I feel we should deploy China helpers as we can introduce more China recipes blended with local touches to add more varieties to our street food. Also like one has said we may one day produce a superDan+LeeCW combo genes that can excel in badminton…

      • Mamaks are very enterprising. The ground floor for restaurant while the upper floor for dormitory of workers.
        Operating 24 hrs, 7 days a week means full utilization of assets. 2 shift of Bangla workers, one shift sleeping while the othe working I.e. One bed shared by 2 workers, optimization of resources.

      • why we depend on foreign workers for such menial task deprive other malaysians a full or part time work? we have hundred thousand unemployed uni graduates.

    • Kayu Nasi Kandar at Penang Road (below formerly Straits Echo) closed shop many years ago.
      Many Chinese customers boycotted it for political reasons.
      How to survive by playing ‘gao-gao’ & not focusing on business matters?

      Compared to kopitiam’s humble & friendly family-run mamak stores, (certain) branded & slippery* mamak restaurants charge like no body business + GST top-up
      but no receipts to prove GST number.
      If you want to taste affordable & heavenly mamak nasi kandar, I highly recommend the corner store at Batu Lancang Market Food Court (near to the Chinese Shrine).
      Spot the friendly & fat mamak lady chef & Indonesian helper.

      Slippery* literally means the floors of the restaurants are dangerously slippery for no other reason than the kitchen oil residual foot-printed by the chefs or helpers everywhere, even on the toilet floors. Such unwarranted safety hazard for customer dining pleasure!

    • Got to get tunglang+zoro to write a letter to Michelin why Penang Chendol being overlooked to gain at least a star? I think with tunglang free time contributing essays in, he can collaborate with zoro to accomplish something positive for our deserving hawkers? Cannot always let SingLand take all the global attention, right?

      • Brother, I am not that free 24-7-365 as you have imagined.
        Still have to cari-makan to keep my brain healthy+fit Plus add some pocket money.
        Not like someone with Saudi donation to spend like nobody business for a foreseeable stretch of more than 9-lives!.
        But still, life is more challenging (with ups + downs) & feeling alive to be kept on the toe (financially) than to be a spineless waiting for a Saudi windfall!
        To be frank, my taste buds’ bad x-perience of SingLand cuisine left a negative impression till today.
        I was visiting my designer friend Francis Tan in the early 80s where I had a breakfast at a Roti Canai store in slippery clean (literally) food court in Singapore City.
        That Roti was nothing more than flour & doughy sans the crispy edges signature of Penang’s Roti Canai. The curry was semi-curry with more water & sugar minus the full recipe of Indian dancing taste-bud’s spices.
        I spent the rest of my meals at Mc Donalds against my unforgiving taste buds for a 2 day stretch.

      • Or curry pop in old Rex cinema. Eat teow chip kue chap or chinese mutton soup or teow chiu fish rice soup which you cant find in Penang.

  21. Gentrification to change the cultural landscape of vintage Penang. Those retirees better move to mainland as island street foods like noodles to be realigned in pricing, not just your basic kopi o.

    • Penang island is getting expensive, partly because the younger generation is willing to pay for style, comfort, brand names and instant gratification. That is the reality as these young generation are pampered by parents and seldom or hardly go through any hardship.

      • A great recipe for early bankrupcy before reaching 25?
        I don’t think it’s a willingness to spend like no tomorrow that comes before the increase in costs of high-end living.
        (Before the advent of massive gentrification of Penang, many young adults were not drown in credit card debts or personal loans,
        not until this G-string of slippery lifestyle when it is common to hear of someone’s sons or daughters almost to the brink of bankruptcy!)
        The urbanisation cum gentrification (e.g. Nagore Road) creates the desire for bin-chui spending lifestyle & social blink-blink to lure the yuppies many of whom
        have no deep pockets but that of their daddies’ pants with decades old pockets full of cash!
        It’s more like ‘press …’ dilemma to spend high-end style to be seen or to be prudent + be shamed by thy socialite peers of the richie & famous!
        What’s more with all the selfie pics on Facebook to prove one’s socialite lifestyle by the minutes? “Where are you now?” “Err…”
        But then after the “Err” isn’t it foolhardy to emulate the lifestyle of the richie?
        Anyway, it is democratic freedom to be financially wise + prudent or to choose to be foolhardy on the slippery socially-accepted paths to early bankruptcy!

        Savvy marketers of lifestyle products & services have no qualms to introduce high-end living (of foreign brands) even if enticed consumers have to borrow
        in order to live that socially-accepted lifestyle of the peers. How painful is it to ‘press ….’?

      • If you care to go to heritage zone coffee shops, you can notice most have marked off “small size serving plate/bowl”, and replaced it with “extra ingredients” menu besides medium and large servings. Extra means add “liao” and costs more than large servings.

        For example, that BangkokLane mee goreng guy can truly bent your wallet. His normal mee without fried sotong being basics. You want it you pay premium. Thats why i boyscott it now although his flowery hokkien can sometimes do the trick.

      • Anil, press b. is a common lingo phrase in financial & social discourse.
        Don’t have to be overtly gentrified to censor to the extent of sacrificing comprehension of difficult times for the X. Y & Z gens!

    • Possibly so. But these old timer business did not take the opportunity to upgrade their premises to meet the new challenges.
      We have read that several millionaires in Penang used to frequent such premises, but they did not render any help to these old school kopitiam.

      • Yes, need to reinvent the business model to win new customers especially from the young ones.
        Old Penang customers are typically kiamsiap and would not pay more.
        Unfortunately the children of such food operators normally do not wish to inherit such business.

      • Those milionaires who frequented kopitiams are/were smart to do do to gsin public affection. If they do/did care to assist yhe struggling local startups/enterprises, then they should collaborate these self start up ventures and not to bring in foreign franchises to crowd the competitive market that eventually squeeze out the adpiting locals!

        So next time your young children or grandchildren want to celebrate with you let’s say at KimmishGary, tell them you prefer to have meals at local family run restaurant instead. Will you???

      • Chendol penang reinvent to serve in air con mall at RM4.80 yet still pull in crowd who think no bin chooi eating standing by roadside at RM2.60.
        This is 2 fuuny sides of Penang.
        Face value matters, are you?

      • If everyone goes for premium pricing, where does that leave the low-income consumer?

        Interesting to note that the Singapore Michelin vendor is still selling at S$2.00. But his customer profile has changed already.

      • Due to heavy promotion by Singapore Tourism on hawker food, many ang mog travellers are now venturing into Singapore heartland tk sample local hawker food. There is now even special guided tour to explain the heritage and making of Singapore hawker fares. Also nowadays young ang moh backpackers are traveling on budget, opt for cheap and good hawker food as a kind of adventure.

      • Maybe enough kiamsiap backpackers in Penang, and the Cats are now after big fishes who can throw $ to sustain Penang economy now that FTZ ventures seen vaning by days e.g. Seagate moves to Thai, Intel to Vietnam while own chendol orimaestro uprooted with franchises all over elsewhere.

        Komtar tower newly refurbished with state art gallery, dinosaur science attractions to make tourists spend spend spend after a meal at Kek Seng?

      • One fact of backpackers: They keep a distance from slippery cosmopolitan cafes, restaurants & upmarket hotels.
        Another fact: They love to x-plore the ‘exotic’ cultures not found in their own countries.

        But one fact of the Head of Pg Tourism: Cannot see the longer term tourism potentials for the George Town authentic heritage assets.
        B’cos everything development must be big spender & slippery cosmopolitan style (for political showcase above social needs).
        So you know why SingLanders are invited with open arms & open CAT paws!

      • Frequenting kopitiams than restaurants, a kiam-siap habits of many millionaires of past decades saw to their realisation of millionaire dreams
        via prudence & stingy to a 5-cent coin.
        I had a millionaire nephew who still ride a Kap-Chai to do errants though he drives a Merc 2-doors (not that Merc S300 Lansi).
        I have yet to hear or see a Penangite millionaire render any help to sustain or rescue our endangered heritage assets – old world charm kopitiams.
        “Cheers Kopi-O kau kau” but quietly keep every cent after a change.

    • I hope Penang Forum can speak for those affected old tenants.
      Is the site within the heritage zone? If so, how could these old buildings be demolished to make way for high rise buildings?

      • Pg forum orso has its own agenda. Chose and pick. Tun lang and pg forum oppose everything. Land in pg is limited but if there are reclaimed land, buyers can build the highest tower in the world if they want. The same greenies in down under oppose certain clearing in the forest. As a result every year there are forest fires. Lives and properties are lost…

    • Short-sightedness except for a slippery tunnel vision of mega-project for self-ego under the sea!
      How to see the golden eggs (except for cukai pintu, assessment rates, fees & fees) hatching under the geese but taken away one by one by the Singlanders?
      Any gomen worth its salt of highly proclaimed Pg heritage stewardship would have done the right thing – some measures of market intervention via laws & regulations.
      When there is no more golden egg to hatch & sustain & preserve, auction the geese to Singland?
      The Geese is UNESCO Heritage Status.


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