Penang Island: Paradise … for developers

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Many parts of Penang Island could soon see a three- to five-fold increase in density – without adequate supporting infrastructure, warns Penang Forum representative Dr Lim Mah Hui. This could have a disastrous impact on the quality of life.

We are told that high-density projects will reportedly affect “only” 109ha. (That’s 270 acres of our tiny island, mind you.) Already 14 projects have been approved. It is believed that they affect the following areas:

1 Jalan CY Choy,
2 Jln. Macalister,
3 Jln. Seang Teik,
4 Lrg Perak,
5 Sungai Ara,
6 Bukit Gambiar (two projects),
8 Lembah Permai,
9 Jln Jelutong (two projects),
11 Jln Paya Terubong,
12 Jln Perak,
13 Jln Tanjong Tokong and
14 Jln Lantau Jerejak.

It is not just 109ha that will be affected. Think of the cumulative traffic congestion in all the surrounding areas and approach roads. Remember, all this is being approved and carried out as policy – even before the Penang Transport Masterplan has been made public and even before consultation for the ‘Penang Paradigm’ (which increasingly looks like a waste of time) can take place later this week. And there has been very little open consultation with the public over the “fine-tuning” of high-density guidelines.

And why are more and more developers so keen on building so-called small office/home office (Soho) units? Well, they offer the potential for even higher density – up to five times higher!

And it’s not as if all these high-rise units are fully occupied. Take a look at night at any new high-rise condo building and see how many units are lit indicating that they are actually occupied.

READ MORE:  Sungai Ara residents await Appeals Board decision on 27 January

Before long, as we draw closer to gridlock, Penang will be transformed into a giant car park, with concrete, tarmac and road widening wiping out greenery and displacing trees.

Ironically, this comes even as the state government is touting Penang’s green credentials, liveability and quality of life to overseas investors and target groups.

This is Mah Hui’s speech at the full council meeting of the MPPP today:

I would like to raise two urgent issues – the guidelines for 87 units per acre and for small office/home office (Soho) – that require public consultation under the policy of Competence, Accountability and Transparency (CAT). These two issues will significantly have an impact on the lives of residents in Penang because of the three-fold increase in density (from 30 units/acre to 87 units/acre) for the first set of guidelines and a possible five-fold (156 units/acre) increase under the guidelines for Soho – compared to the (aborted) Penang Global City Centre project of 37 units/acre.

See his full address here.

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18 Comments on "Penang Island: Paradise … for developers"

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cseng
cseng
It is easier to change the set of leaders but the operating/governing system/process and mentality stays and take time to change. It would a challenge for DAP to balance the many expectations of many Penang NGOs within existing ‘system’ and mindset. Public consultation, transparency and accountability do improved, or it is not?. Human never God, therefore is unreliable, we must rely on good governing processes. Public can only be the ‘boss’ with good governing processes established without abuses. Don’t agree DAP still the best choice among all parties in term of offering good governing process, or not? want try Umno… Read more »
moot
moot
Oh dear. I hate to say this, it seems we just love to skew the discussion and refuse to thing from all angles. In fact, high residential density doesn’t mean low quality of life, and low resident density doesn’t mean better preservation. Few people willing to admit that, Mahathir “middle kingdom centralisation” has destroy Malaysia flexibility of township planning. State government can do little to curb the price nor “lower” the cost , because properties selling tax can only be imposed by central government, this is unlike REAL federation country like USA. And bare in mind that, few Malaysia willing… Read more »
Kelvin
Kelvin
Penangites , one must be awake and move with times. If one wants lower density ratio , only Island preference , low cost and drive around, all of you are are expecting the moon. High density can accommodate more units , lower cost and cater Island only folks. Asked yourself why developed countries like Japan, South Korea or Western Countries where there are all automotive builders, prefer to use public transport in weekdays and weekends on private vehicles. If this is adopted over in Penang , traffic will be smooth. One will complaint of poor public transport, this is a… Read more »
Stephen
Stephen
Do not expect good and efficient public transport in Malaysia as the key focus of our policy makers is to manufacture more cars to sell to you so as to make more money and to save Proton. Remember Pak Lah said that he reduced petrol subsidy to channel money for better public transportation? ask yourself if this is ‘janji ditepati’? There is another conspiracy theory why public transportation can never be improved in Malaysia and it has to do with ensuring high property price/rental in the city. If public transportation is efficient, one can live far away and this will… Read more »
tunglang
moot, some may not like the idea of electric bicycles & pedal bicycles in a slippery Cosmopolitan Penang. All cosmo things on the island of ‘Bing Chui’ will have to be flashy bling-bling like new cars, new richie residents (no need of locals who cannot ‘afford’ to stay on the fantasy island but a big welcome to ‘portable but not loyal’ foreigners with mobile fat bank accounts), SOHO designer studios, Starry-Eyed Bucks cafes, Kimmy Garish HongKee restaurants, expensive lifestyle fitting to the glitzy eyes of fellas with deep pockets & hifi lifestyle of the rich & famous, & of course… Read more »
moot
moot
I just want to repeat this, FORGET ABOUT BUS, start thinking about the light vehicle such as bicycle/electric assist bicycle. People just keep giving excuses of sweating, safety,etc, However, there is more motor-cycling and pedestrian getting killed on the road annually than bicycle riders. For those with bigger pocket, a electric assist bicycle can easily move a person 25km/h with little sweat, where the breeze will cool your body down. And this also save you thousands in joining “fitness club” membership fees. IMHO, it is much easier to lobby for bicycle lanes in Penang due to its dense population. Car… Read more »
Stephen Ng
Stephen Ng

Housing is now a commodity that is being speculated.
Property developers made big money with the help of Property Consultants…!

This is a nationwide problem, not just in Penang.
If only our Housing Minister could focus on such matter and not the trivial Tong Sampah.

Yang
Yang
I think at 87 units per acres is not much of a problem as long as the apartment and the surrounding areas are well planned. Look at the high density of Rifle Range, Kg Melayu and Farlim compared to the areas in Jalan Thean Teik and Perak Road which are well planned. Even with a proper transportation plan, as long as car and vehicle keep increasing the problems will still be there. The only solution is to have less vehicle on the road such as having an occupation certificate for car or vehicle or any vehicle above 10 or 15… Read more »
bigjoe99

Its not a choice. If you want to move to Mass Transport instead of personal vehicle, density has to go up or it won’t pay for the Mass Transport. And density has to go up FIRST. Even just to afford to build roads for bus transport, density still has to go up. My own estimate shows it has to be EVEN higher than proposed to have a real efficient low-cost self-sustaining Mass Transit or it will have to be subsidised heavily…

Solving these kinds of problem take a lot of public trust. Unfortunately UMNO/BN spent all of it..

Kevin
Kevin
Before density goes up, please let there be adequate infrastructure to cope with it. If the developers are going to benefit from the increased density they should be made to build these infrastructure. Having a high density without any supporting infrastructure will create a disaster. You cannot put the cart before the horse. It must occur simultaneously or even better, subsequent to better infrastructure. A mass transit can already be implemented in Pg and be made self-sustaining so long as there is no corruption involved. Projects in Malaysia are not self-sustaining simply because of corruption and abuse of power, not… Read more »
joecharles
joecharles

good for corruptors and corruptee also.

tunglang
Why SOHO? Is there a real demand for such development or is it the profitable fantasies of greedy developers out to make another ‘trend’ killing? How many Penangites are enterprising to go soho given the poor financial access for local entrepreneurs except the bumis? We know the profitability of building such expensive ‘trendy’ SOHO units which compared to low cost units also have about the same sq. ft area, why are these developers reluctant (in the first place) to build smaller units for families but instead bigger ones (of more than 1,000 sq ft) at super rich men’s prices? Don’t… Read more »
Haji Idris
Haji Idris

tunglang
I still prefer tradional kopitiam kopi o kau kau.

fyi in case you go starry$, then cheapest deal is 12oz Coffee Americano at RM7.40 after tax which is equivalent to 7 cups of kopi-o with loose change of 40 sen to pay half hour parking outside SOHO.

cheers !!!

tunglang

You are absolute right, brother.
Not all beverages have to be ‘imported’ in order to drink to one’s fullest satisfaction sans gaya-raya or ‘pok kai’.

The same for choice of women. Who says foreign Marilyn Monroe is more desirable than our local Saloma?
Or who says SinkahPoh Hokkien Mee is better than Penang’s Ori-Maestro Hokkien Mee with real ‘hae’?

I prefer to be grounded, realistic & stable in my thoughts, tastes & feelings after a cuppa of kopitiam Kopi-O kau kau than being slippery, dizzy & miserably superficial beyond control from a binge of Absolut Vodka or Singland’s yuppie’s Tiger Beer!

Ahmad Sobri
Ahmad Sobri
Welcome to the world of Kapitan Lim … More issues will crop up prior PRU 13. The Rakyat are unhappy, but, we can continue crowing how efficient, how clean, how people friendly, the DAP led Government is, is it? At the beginning we thought, well Penang is going to follow Singapore’s formulae of development with lots of greeneries, but what you are going to get are slums! Singapore as an island is smaller than Penang, how is it that it is able to develop so nicely, with so much greens with so much liveable flats? And Penang? Go down to… Read more »
Pak Tim
Pak Tim

If you are not a Penangite, it is none of your business.

Ong Eu Soon
Ahmad, did you finally wake up from hibernation or hallucination or illusion? Now you also can’t stand Tokong Lim! What a transformation within months! tHE tOKONG HAS BECOME tOUKONG! He will eventually evolved to become one of the most unpopular leader. With more than 70% of the Penang based journalists going against him, soon we will be able to send him packing like KTK. PR without the solid support of Malay, will not be able to stand a chance against BN. With Malay ,Indian and Chinese votes all steadily eroding, DAP Penang will be left alone to win the election.… Read more »
Kevin
Kevin
I think we must first realise that the problems of high density started way before LGE even came out of prison. It is not something new. Pls don’t tell me that before this high-rise development on the island was 30 units/acre. Whoever believes that is either plain stupid or blind. You don’t even have to know how to count to know that. Most complaints against LGE are due to the rising cost of living and sharp rise in property prices. That again is occuring throughout Malaysia. You get that in KL, JB, PJ, Shah Alam, Subang. In KL, some condos… Read more »
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