One of the reasons why I am against the SRS proposals for Penang transport infrastructure is the literally over-the-top plan for an RM8bn 19.5km north-south highway that will actually cross over the Penang Hill railway. This idea could have come straight out of Fantasy Island.

What? You didn’t know that it would fly over the Penang Hill railway? How come they didn’t tell you this? 

As we are not allowed to take photographs of the 20 volumes of the SRS proposals which were finally put on display at the Dewan Sri Pinang after much pressure, the above is a Penang Forum artist’s impression of what this ‘amazing’ flyover wlll look like. (Now you know why they don’t allow cameras in!) 

Can you imagine the piling work on the hills, the forest clearings along the route and the carbon emissions from the highway? 

If that’s not bad enough, the plan for this highway, originally meant to be four lanes in all at a cost of close to RM6bn, was expanded to six lanes on who-knows-what grounds. The estimated cost jumped to around RM8bn. What’s a couple of billion here or there. Say goodbye to the Penang you once knew.

All this is to be financed by the sale of 4,500 acres of land reclamation to build three artificial islands off the southern coast of Penang Island for mostly high-end property development. If all this sounds bewildering, it is because it is.

This is the route of the highway, covering seven main stretches and half a dozen interchanges:

1) From Gurney Expressway via Bagan Jermal Road and Gottlieb Road (see artist’s impression below) to the edge of Youth Park (1.4km);

2) A tunnel from near the Youth Park to Taman Cantik in Air Itam (2.8km);
3) An elevated stretch hugging the hill above Air Itam flying over the Penang Hill railway and an area behind the Kek Lok Si (2.0km);
4) A tunnel from an area not far from Kek Lok Si to near Emerald Heights Condo/the Hokkien cemetery in Paya Terubong;
5) An elevated highway from the Paya Terubong interchange along a new corridor, the Paya Terubong Highway;
6) A tunnel from around the Taman Suria Vista areas in Paya Terubong to Jalan Tun Sardon, Sungai Ara (2.3km);
7) A tunnel from Sungai Ara to the Lim Chong Eu Expressway via Desa Ara.

The entire 19.5km highway, which includes 7.4km of tunnels, is expected to affect about 74 homes and shops, which are euphemistically referred to as “encumbrances”.

So essentially, Phase 1 of the SRS proposal, which covers the period until 2022-23, is mainly made up of this RM8bn “Pan Island Link” highway and the almost-as-expensive RM6bn Komtar to Airport elevated LRT line. Hardly the most progressive thinking in terms of public transport and sustainable mobility.

Good luck, Penang! With all these tunnels and hill-hugging highway stretches, you will need it. At least these outlandish plans will give you something to talk about over the Lunar New Year holidays.

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86 COMMENTS

  1. I guess everybody has their own selfish idea for Penang. Most wanted Penang to stay the same. Unfortunately they are not looking at the big picture here. We are a young nation comparatively [historically too] so our population will grow very fast. Unlike mature cities and countries where population growth is slow or stagnant, we cannot have the same numbers of housing or infrastructure. You can “preserve” cities or countries if they are not growing rapidly since birth is offset by death.
    We cannot use the same model here. As population grow, there’ll be demand for housing and infrastructure. If you don’t want Penang to change then you’ll have to stop people from getting married & have children or enforce birth limit policy like China or Singapore. Which I don’t think is possible in Malaysia 🙂 Maybe in another 100 years, there’ll be 20 million people in Penang perhaps? There’s no running away from population growth for us, we’ll need additional housing, infrastructure, factories, businesses , schools, hospitals etc for this extra people. Our duty is to ensure that all this is done in the best possible ways taking into account the geopolitical situations here, costs & impact to the environment. There can be no escape from harming the environment as human activities are not compatible with the environment. The human race has been harming the environment since day one. We can only limit the damage. As much as I don’t like to see Penang change, I can only hope that it’s changed in the best possible ways. We have to be realistic in life, certain things in the textbook are not possible in real life. That they failed to educate us in school.

    Born in Penang, hope to come back here for retirement.

    • Actually the fertility rate in Penang is well below the replacement rate of 2.1. Which means the population is only increasing very slightly because of small net inward migration. So we CAN protect the environment and save places like Pulau Jerejak.

      • Take a hard look at Times Square Condos at night. Count how many units are lit to conclude the occupancy rate.
        My estimate: 20% occupancy.
        The rest 80% are just speculative gamble & breeding hungry ghosts!

        This is just one case of building spree without meeting the actual needs of the populace – at super high price & over building.
        Have we not heard of the Japanese work model – Just-In-Time Manufacturing?
        Take a hard look at their cultural needs & you will see a balance of Nature & human activities + consumption.
        Maybe Mahathir missed this one crucial aspect of living & progress into the future in his quest of Looking East Policy (just to copy-cat for GDP progress).

        Now, should we be led by developers as to how we progress into the future?
        All of us got 1-life & not 9-Cat-life to experiment.

      • Already many have said Times Square is a like a huge airbnb rental hub for short stay frequent travellers coming to Penang.

      • Ivory the matermind of Penang Times Sq now I Worry in reality as the big boss Low is now offering 20%discount during this festive period.
        I cant afford his stylo mylo condo but would appreciate he can offer us discount at his karaoke Soju nite club instead.

      • Ivory is becoming “I worry” else why offer 20% discount in CNY ads in order to keep its cash flow moving?

      • Why needs the light on at Times Square condo when those hanky panky activities are going on at night?

      • Anil should factor in those returning Penangites, returning for retirement after working overseas for decades.

      • I assume the statistics given are official figures. I also assume this does not take into account migrant workforce, short stay visitors, seasonal population.
        I may be wrong on this though. Traditionally Penang is majority Chinese but in recent years the Malay population has overtaken the Chinese. Given this trend,
        the birth rate will only grow exponentially. Penang’s factories and businesses relied on a large number of migrant workers be it legal or undocumented.
        Those who are legal can be assumed to be Malaysian from neighboring states, legal foreign workers etc. Those who are not legal can be assumed to be not calculated in official census. We also have short stay visitors or tourists. These can be assumed to be increasing by the proliferation of budget hotels [licensed or otherwise] in Penang and increase in air link to Penang airport.
        Whether this needs to be solved by building more hotels or get it absorbed by homestay ala AirBNB etc will be up to the policy makers. Then there are the “balik kampung” crowd which can be observed during festivals, school holidays etc. A better measurement of Penang’s population will be to take the average of a CNY crowd, school holiday season, General Election day crowd etc. This will factor in the returning Penang diaspora [like me :)] and tourists. Relying just on official statistics for planning often fall short in numbers. The best would be to factor in the average figure of the events that I mentioned. Obviously if its a once off occurrence, this can be discounted but if its an annual/seasonal pattern, better to factor it in the planning. Planning based on official statistics often failed to account for “variables”. We need a buffer value or figure to take into account the “variables”. It must not be forgotten the Penang diaspora, tourists, seasonal populace, migrant workers are variables that needs to be included in the planning apart from the “fixed” local population. Penang is a tourist spot and it also has a large diaspora lest we forget.
        It is also increasingly popular as a retirement spot. There are people who escape winter by coming to Penang for three to four months in a year.
        IMHO it would be prudent to plan for Penang as if its an international city given its geographical location, heritage, historical ties and demographic.

      • The Department of Statistics takes into account the varying birthrates for the main ethnic groups and the changing demographics in projecting the population increase.

        Larger crowds during peak seasons can be handled by increasing the frequency of public transport during those seasons.

        Moreover, you want public transport infrastructure that can be easily expanded at less cost. BRT and trams fit the bill, wheras elevated LRT and monorails are much more expensive to expand.

  2. Penang Island is fun to come and enjoy shopping and dining street food only.
    We retirees prefer to live in more open less congested area, and prefer to take KTM to Butterworth, then Ferry to the island, and use RapidPenang to move around.
    Once a month good enough as we dislike traffic jam.

  3. Almost all Muslim countries and that includes Malaysia has a perpertual tual and indefinite ban on the entry of Israeli passport holders -read Jews. Still, Israel don’t get into a hissy fit. By contrast, Donald Trump has NOT banned all Muslims from entry into U.S BUT it is only to the citizens and passport holders of Syria, Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Libya and Somalia. Even then, it is only for 90 days and as Donald Trump said during his election campaign “to find out what the hell is going on”. Malaysia which bars Israeli passport holders and is not on the list need not get into the argument. In fact, what America is now doing is just what has been done by Malaysia and many Muslim countries. As they say, do not do unto others what you don’t want others to do to you. Lastly, every country has the right to impose conditions for entry. With Donald Trump, he walks the talk. Start facing reality.

    • Americans should ask again “what the hell made it happened – 911?”
      The culprits are so obvious – just sue the Saudis.
      But Obama was curtsy to this terrorist issue – so polite-political-apologist.
      Now Trump has to fix this homeland terrorist problem once & for all.

      • Truman’s anti-immigration policy is a good topic for Anil to get readers to further discuss.

      • Sorry, I mean Trump. Error caused by spell check on my smartphone.

        Anyway, what is your view on this matter, Mr Anil?

      • Anil previously supported Sadiq Khan the Muslim as the London mayor, without realising that most Muslim immigrants to Europe still cannot assimilate into the European culture of freedom, human rights and open society. Trump has seen such problems in Europe and is taking the right action to curb the uncontrolled Muslim immigrants and refugees to US until a solution is found.

  4. have to spin for dedak. kelantan no development oso flood every year. same with segamat. why gilakan not helping out?
    whose buying those condo is your problem? you help the rich and not poor like gilakan gomen?
    you support gilakan gomen jerejak was used as ship and repair with all the motor oil, paint and construction waste spilled into the year. ship repair and building is like having a motor kapcai repair shop in botanical gdn. why are silent as you supportive.

  5. tell us how you bull.. to solve the traffic problems? even sing gomen under closed enviro as island is building highways you want to be n. korea regime to stop cars from perak kedah perlis and selangor from going to pg when they paid federal road taxes and toils. you another dedak. car owners pay road tax to federal gilakan regime and not to state. road tax are meant for roads and not fisherman’s boats or higher edu.

  6. The Sun’s Mr Goh Ban Lee in his 3 Jan column calls for Dr Lim Mah Hui to be popularly voted in via local govrenment charter to be The Mayor of Penang.

    So Penang Forum must work towards that instead of appearing to cross the line wiith the local administrations ?

    What say you the readers ???

  7. Penang Forum and the likes need to create creative short videos to post them on youtube to get their intentions across to the public.

    Right now SP Setia (using Penang new singing icon Lee Pei Ling in its CNY ad) and Eco World (Spread The Love Share The Joy theme) and even Tropicana Properties (Tales of Our Table) are putting out CSR kind of CNY to appeal to the public !

    However, Ivory Properties of Penang is rather “kiamsiap” not producing CNY video to Malayians probably its CEO Dato Low Eng Hock now eyeing the World instead ?

    We hope Penang Forum can engage its supporters from advertising media (how about that Penang-lanf with Nikon DSLR to help?) to ounter the developers ???

    • Good suggestion.. though I think the Penang Forum folk dont have the financial resources to match the developers/indulge in such gimmicks. I believe they prefer to focus on their message and disseminate it via social media and face-to-face meetings.

      • Anil, perhaps Penang Forum can work with volunteerism –
        there are those with talents (video shooting + editing, writing, still photography, flash video) to contribute in myriad ways to its cause.
        Also, PF can assist those with lawyers should they be sued by those who learnt the crude art of suing from SingLand.

      • Anil, your good volunteerism is misinterpreted as kang tao!
        Is life all about kang tao?
        What a miserable creature with such kang tao mentality.

      • TVC can cost anything from Rm50K – 100+K or more depending on duration (15sec, 30sec, 1min, 2 min), use of models, SFX & location.
        Also, approvals required (for anything broadcasted to the public) from MOF (RTM) & Censorship Board @ Film Negara.
        Short/mini documentary is more effective to push a point like traffic jam, botak hills or future of Penang fishermen.
        Unless PF is a commercial entity or has big sponsors, TVC is unthinkable.

      • Seeking “Kang Tao” for your service for Penang Forum via Anil? No need such overpriced service since DSLR could take good video and video editing software/app is simple to use to create good clips for Youtube.

      • Watch your words! If I want kang tao, Anil is the last, not even on my list.
        Anil’s purpose for this blog is public service, not giving kang tao. Do have some respect.

        If you have not worked in advertising, surely the costs is high, but the returns from commercial ads are more than the costs to produce TVCs.
        (those videos by developers are shot as HQ TVCs)

        Too bad you sound like an ad illiterate & shooting from the hips.

      • Anil can engage supporters who use Vlogs to produce influential videos. Tunglang can seek Mdm Kee to be the advertising maestro for such public service and not talking ringgit and sen?

    • Penang Forum can have its own video channel on Youtube.
      Nowadays young people seldom read, but get their info from short viral videos.

      • gomen has to listen to majority wish who opts for cars. we have rtd, spad, mot, ferries and ngos but are they oso doing something to improve the situation? note public buses utilisation is 60% and only operates half as it can goes up to 110 or 120% assuming some overloading afterall it is federal.

      • majority pg lang owns cars but nof foreign workers.
        why not share your secrets. how you go around? kapcai or swing like spidy

      • Good for no car Sean as RON95 price has gone up 20 sen per litre. Expect higher fuel price to burn your pocket if Brent Oil price continues its climb. Remember BN has removed fuel subsidy!

  8. Don’t who complaint about the ugly modern infrastructures must now have contingency plan to have alternate place to live should the future becomes unbearable to them.

    This new year many developers are promoting more affordable home on the mainland e.g. Kulim, Sg. Bakap etc. Don’t envy others who make right choices right now to book for retiring homes which are spacious and close to nature. I know Tee is enjoying his life at SP tossing yee sang now!

  9. Come to the WildCAT Fantasy Island of Malaysia, up north where CATs dig tunnels into hills & build dizzy flyovers in the wildest fantasies.
    Mr Tattoo, you ain’t see no pure fantasies in your wildest dreams in the Pacific.
    Fly over to the south of the Andaman Sea, apply for a job with a role to call out “The Plane, The Plane”
    Make this the Ultimate Fantasy Island of flying cars & tunnelling CATs!

    Anil, will you have the wildest dream of your life tonight?

      • undergound road under penang hill not nightmare? or detour like round the island tour and burn more fuel, add pollution and more viaducts around the city is more peferable and no nightmare? we want every thing perfect? even if walk we have to cut a path. better if the path is paved.

  10. Car population increases exponentially in Penang, so simple road system can no longer able to alleviate congestion. Over the top or under the ground, I think most Penang motorists would not care so long as their car could cruise effortlessly without stoppages caused by traffic congestion. The best way is to implement electronic road pricing to force Penangites to abandon their cars and opt for public transportation.

      • The idea of a transport plan should be to reduce dependence on cars not to build more highways to pander to motorists.

      • Anil, the real objective (I suspect) to bring the PTMP as an upfront state transport solution into realisation via swap deals is:
        1) to bring about concretised development funded by developers (let these with money fund the state’s property & infrastructure development) –
        brick + mortar + tar development is a tangible way to let others see development as a state political portfolio to crow about.
        2) to blame the Feds of measly development funding, which is an excuse to execute this ‘despicable & wild’ transport planning at the behest of
        greedy & wild developers (with Money Can Talk Louder) even as CAT has to press … if it ever has the … to oppose sensibly @ swap deal negotiations.
        3) to supersede RapidPenang (a Federal entity) as a transportation solution with more highway + tunnel solutions. Same strategy of oppose towards the 2 Penang Bridges (under Federal jurisdiction).
        Better, Cheap & Faster transport plan is far from CAT’s mind as it won’t strike 2 birds with one stone.

        Now you see why a CAT want to strike 2 birds with one PTMP.
        But the 2 birds may well turn out to be 2 black crows!
        Now are you clearer about who’s the root cause of all these development & environmental problems?

      • transport plan but who operates the tram transport and can break even or running a loss like the ferries? why inaction in this forum as ferries have been sold to another party? why ngos are very silent as ferries are operating as when they like. there is no time table for the ferries. as for buses we have transport plan for 60% operating capacity. if they add more buses, they will be running at a deeper loss and our gst will increase to 10%. more empty buses on jammed roads. more pollution and global warning. more buses jamming the road will turn off passangers and they will resort to private cars again.

    • but this is the majority who wants this way. federal has more power. rtd polisi spad mot mof and income tax. even almighty cannot stop 2 atom bombs as compare to tokong

  11. … the most Despicable of CATs.
    No wonder what you held close to your hairy chest until ‘forced’ to reveal all those not-up-to-date despicable development (or more like developers’) plans are such wild fantasies with no care for your Absolut Vodka Mantra: “Cleaner Greener Penang”. So wild, these despicable plans are stuffs of wild dreams of addicts in the back alleys.
    … 1st Class Bluffer Penangites ever come across.

    May Karma cross path with you …

  12. If this is true, why is the state government intent on scarring the island with all these ugly infrastructure and destroy the sights Penang is famous for?

    • Unfortunately, Penangites still blindly support the DAP regime. Let them eat “telur” this coming election, OK or not?

      • or like kelantan. with very few housing or industrial development why kelantan flood annually almost wo fail?

      • What Kelantan has to do with Penang? Anil writes about Penang here, so stick to the topic, don’t spin!! The issue here is unsustainable development spearheaded by DAP regime ! Why there are so many expensive condos being built in the island ? Who are buying it?

        Who is marring Jerejak island now with all these crazy developments? Who is going to destroy the livelihood of fishermans due to the crazy 3 islands reclaimation plan?? All initiated by the DAP regime lead by a leader who is ironically charged with corruption, lol!!! Penangites deserve the state government they elected if DAP still control Penang after next GE. Padan Muka to all the Penangites!

      • Wanna know why there are so many expensive condos being built in the island ?

        Prices of properties proposed (in paper) for Penang before approval of any developer’s plan is ‘sieved’ & approved by State Planning Committee (SPC).
        So, no guessing who is the ultimate AOK Master of Penang’s sky high pricing of condos (everywhere).
        Read my above comment on ‘CAT want to strike 2 birds with one PTMP.’

        We may need the service of RSPCA to catch the cat.

      • who spin about flooding? kelantan no development also flood every year. why dont blame francis light for scarring pg and all the chinese clans building temples and kongsi when pg was once a virgin pearl? why not go and find out why call beach road when there are reclamation extended to weld jetty? why worship angmohs for building a furnicular and scar the hillslopes?
        jerejak was once very peaceful andyou are sleeping when they havd a shipyard. ship ward with all motor oil, weld and scrap irons. yetyou all silent on this.

      • Bull…! You mean you agree with Penang state government to build more highways? If Penang government couldn’t solve the traffic problem, what’s the difference between them and the Federal government?

      • What makes you assume that BN will not be developer friendly if Penang is under BN? You may see the entry if PRC developers into Penang, just like in Iskandar Johor.

      • Wait till you see the Despicable CAT’s PTMP in total fulfilment –

        scaring the hill sides (like leprosy) with snaking highways, left, right & tunnelling,
        scary to see noisy speeding cars ‘flying’ along flyovers over no-more-serene housing estates & over the top of Penang Hill Railway line,
        alarming to see the building up of acidic + toxic carbon monoxide inside hill tunnels & toxic deposition on once greener & cleaner lush hillside forests,
        more bottlenecks @ every major road junction exiting wild snaking highways (go to Juru & nearby highways to x-perience real-life bottlenecks),
        nerve-racking to forgo once blue sky turning hazy like Beijing,
        nail-biting to witness once already hot weather turning X-treme hot sauna island,
        horrifying of daily parking spaces competition (public + private) becoming angry birds’ first-come-first-park frenzies,
        more horrors of another reclaimed landfill (another south island?) for car recycling,
        hair-raising new car business – the get-rich-quick career of the next decades overtaking property business! Welcome the shiny + shampooed car-gurus!

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