Penang tunnel land swap controversy


More land reclamation rights reportedly will be handed over to the companies building the controversial 6.5km Penang tunnel and other road projects.

Why are we putting in more infrastructure for cars rather than public transport? Who approved the tunnel project? Who approved the RM8b cost for these projects?

Was there any discussion and planning? This is being done before the Penang Transport Master Plan is ready or any public feedback is received. While China is investing big-time in more sustainable transport (railways), here we are inviting Chinese firms to build a tunnel and roads for private motor vehicles. This at a time when oil/petrol prices are destined to rise and the island is getting choked with cars. How short-sighted can we get?

How much land will be given away and what does “nearby reclaimed land” mean? How many acres are we talking about? Over 700 acres (assuming reclaimed land is valued at around RM250psf going by the Bayan Mutiara valuation)? No land for affordable housing but plenty of land reclamation rights to give away?

Does this mean, with this land swap deal, the tunn

Has there been any serious discussion and debate in the Penang State Assembly about this? Is this going to be presented to the public as a fait accompli like the Spice convention centre? The tunnel project is not just at MOU stage as it has been announced that work will start in 2013 (see below).

Excerpt from a report in The Star:

Foreign giants keen on RM8bil Penang infrastructure jobs
[email protected]

GEORGE TOWN: Several foreign giants apart from China’s Beijing Urban Construction Group (BUCG), namely Citic Group of China, South Korea’s SK Group, as well as couple of Japanese conglomerates and one Singapore company have expressed interest to bid for some RM8bil worth of infrastructure jobs in Penang.

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the funding of these crucial road works would be done via a land swap.

“We will finance these projects by land swap as they are expensive. The land will be nearby reclaimed land, which means they will own a certain acreage. These companies appear to be interested (in these projects) even though they involve a land swap. We might as well use something to improve traffic,” Lim said in an interview after opening the one-day investPenang seminar organised by ECM Libra Financial Group Bhd recently.

The interested parties, according to Lim, had been told to submit their request for proposals (RFP) which would also include their recommendation on land usage by year-end.

In April, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Penang government and BUCG for a proposed traffic-alleviation project. Even so, Lim said the RFP was open to other interested parties apart from BUCG.

The projects include the 6.5km tunnel job (from Gurney Drive to Butterworth) which takes up the bulk of the RM8bil cost, the 4.2km Gurney Drive-Lebuhraya Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu bypass, and 4.6km Lebuhraya Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu-Bandar Baru Air Itam bypass. The proposed tunnel project will be the third link between Penang and Butterworth.

“We need to find a way to disperse traffic and with these projects, we will complete the loop. We’ve revived the idea of a third link and want to get it done,” he said.

The pricing for the third link, said Lim, would be higher as “people still use tunnel as it’s shorter … about one quarter length of the second bridge.” He expects work on the project to start earliest by 2013 although he would like it to start the end of next year if he had his way.

READ MORE:  3,000-strong crowd lap up Mahathir's address in Kuching
Please help to support this blog if you can.

Read the commenting guidlelines for this blog.


  1. Are there any maps availeble on the internet so we can see where the proposed road will be build between Tanjung Bungah and Teluk Bahang

  2. eu soon,

    at least reclaimed lands for infrastructure. and it is going to be tendered out, I bet.

    go back to your koh, the Deputy CM to UMNO CM> reclaim lands to IJM for perpetuity and what did the state get? Nothing (much)! btw, who controls IJM. Go check it out yourself Same goes to E&O.

    who is above the law? Have you heard of Port Klang Fleece Trade Zone equivalent in Penang? ABU.

    • Why not go back further to Lim Chong EU period where land reclamation was undertaken by PDC and then resold the land to developers.

      KST and LGE are both suck to let private companies to reclaim land. Land is only valuable resource for state government, Singapore land nationalization model should be used.

  3. Instead of building a tunnel from Butterworth to Gurney Drive and bring in more traffic, it is more worthwhile to bore a tunnel under Penang Hill. From Google map the distance from Paya Terubong to Jalan Balik Pulau is only about 3 km, not much more than the tunnel at Jelapang. This will open up Balik Pulau and the rise in land price there will or toll can pay for the construction. The population growth in Balik Pulau will feed the labour need on the island and reduce people commuting from the main land. Then raise the toll on both bridges to pay for the island MRT or monorail. There should be line under the channel to connect the Butterworth rail station to the island to anticipate the high speed train. Visitors can use park-and-ride with big multi-storey car parks build at Batu Kawan and in Prai (works for Sentosa and Venice). This will stop more cars coming into the island.

  4. interesting article from Spore Business Times :

    Penang’s Economy Buziing Again :

    in numbers

    * Population

    1.6 million

    * Foreign Direct Investments (2005 to 2011)

    2005: RM4.8 billion

    2006: RM5.3 billion

    2007: RM4.7 billion

    2008: RM10.1 billion

    2009: RM2.1 billion

    2010: RM12.2 billion

    2011 (to June): RM4.6 billion (S$1.9 billion)

    * Major investors

    United States, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Germany, Taiwan, Netherlands

    * Foreign tourist arrivals

    2007: 447,800

    2008: 464,400

    2009: 464,200

    2010: 629,000

    2011 (to July): 360,000

    * Medical Tourism

    2006: 191,000 foreign patients with RM129 million in receipts

    2007: 215,000 foreign patients with RM156 million in receipts

    2008: 226,000 foreign patients with RM173 million in receipts

    2009: 202,000 foreign patients with RM164 million in receipts

  5. if the readers can read the full Star report (Fri) highlighted by Anil :

    a) Land swap deal (all those reclaimed land matter raised by Anil past few days). According to The Star, it is to gain RM8 Billion to build infrastructures like more roads to alleviate traffic jam.
    May be Penang gomen lack direct financial support from Federal hence resort to such swap deal ? If swap deal benefits the locals by creating more jobs, then by all means go ahead.
    Bear in mind Penang Gomen forsee in future more than half of state revenues coming from Service (eg Medical / Tourism (Malls/Hotels/Shopping) industries. Since LGE mentioned lack of local Engineers (a lot found jobs more rewarding in Spore etc) to sustain high-tech FTZ business; and more labor intensive jobs (where Penang employs tonnes of foreigners that may one day cause social issues ?) are moving out of Msia (to cheaper countries like Vietnam or Philipinnes or even inner part 2nd/3rd tier cities of China).

    We hope money for infrastructure not restrict to road expansion (may be Star report not detailed enough) but to build MRT asap. Anil being socially conscious as always must get more Penangites to support public transports like for a start use RapidPenang.

    b) at the end of the above Star report which Anil surprisingly not highligted was LGE & Co have gone to Spore to study housing board (HDB) and to create Penang Housing Board (PHB) ie to model PHB after Spore’s successful HBB (recognised by United Nations) so that Penangites can enjoy good amenities public housings at Batu Kawan.
    Anil. this is good news which can satisfy those who yearn for cheaper housings.

  6. This CM is above laws, he think that he can do anything he like. Soon all our assets will be sold to fund his so called DEVELOPMENT. Why we need the tunnel when the existing bridge after expansion has not reached the bottom-neck? The second bridge is under construction which might turn out to be a white elephant. After the launched the half past six BEST solution, he has no ideas how to expand it with wider service areas and work on how to further improve the bus service. All now LGe want is to build more roads and more bridge or tunnel. This CM from DEVELOPMENT action party will not stop selling away our lands and rights before we throw him out of power.

    • RM700 million extra income from sPICE is still no enough for the golden son. Greedy knows no limit!…

      He argued he knew nothing Kancil car park under his jurisdiction as PDC Chairman, and he has no shy to hide that he flexed his muscle on MPPP, a role outside his jurisdiction.

    • Did you really understand the deal correctly?LGE said the land swap will involve reclaimed land.He is not referring to a big piece of prime land. Busses need roads to move.If the roads are so congested, do you think bus system can work effectively?Why are you people so against development?Without development and proper infrastructure, do you think Penang can be attractive to investors?And without investors, how can the state generate income?When the gov. was building the 1st Pg Bridge, people also complained that it would become a white elephant.Is it a white elephant now?Now you people are saying the same thing about more bridges.Looks like you people are still having the same mentality 20 to 30 yrs ago.More links between the Pg Island and mainland are surely needed to spur development in the mainland.Public transports must be further improved but that cannot be done without good infrastructure like wider roads and highways. Please wake up and think. LGE has done a good job in making Penang more attractive to foreign investors.He knows well what he is doing.Please think before complaining.Take a rest and travel to places like SG and HK for a holiday.Then you will know how much we need to work in order to catch up, thanks to BN and KTK.

    • when was the last time you dropped by Butterworth? When was the last time you witnessed the tiny congested roads in Penang …vs that of the FT? When was the last time a road was even built in the state?
      If the arguement is for rail transport…how overdue is the double tracting up north?
      If you think a rail link ON the island is the best you think it is cheaper and one that can be borne 100% by private enterprise?
      Pls refrain from personal political coments if you do not have anything concrete to offer.

  7. bigjoe : Buses need less road than you imagine. Since you say ” cars is the only way to pay for it” well. Do you mean “TOLL road”. Otherwise, there is no way the pathetic road tax enough to pay for the road building cost.

    BTW, all those “giant” China company are mostly own by the state, and Chian trying to “exporting” such construction work to prevent it from further bloated China inflation.

  8. The basic fact is that Penang Island little above 700K population and the mainland about 500K. The only affordable public transport system is – buses. Anything else would require not some but MASSIVE subsidies. Buses means roads – you require 3 lane(each way) for efficiency. Roads cannot be paid for by buses either – cars is the only way to pay for it and even then, as the tunnel economic telling, require very very significant subsidy.

    Like it or not, the choices sucks.

    But we are getting all excited over just ‘interest’. The fact of the matter is its very costly to build the tunnel and with two bridges, doubt its economical even with land subsidy unless the land keep climbing like it has been which is highly unlikely..


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here