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Architect Nasrine Seraji exposes PGCC developers’ greed

The developers of the RM25 billion Penang Global City Centre (PGCC) project have been telling us how green and carbon-free their project is going to be.

But what they didn’t tell us is they actually wanted to cram in as much as they could into the Turf Club land to maximise profits. In fact, they wanted a density that would have made it twice the density of Hong Kong!

NasrineSomehow, the PGCC’s Teheran-born architect, Nasrine Seraji, managed to convince the developers that no one would want to live there if they went ahead with their original plan.

Even so, it looks like the PGCC could end up with 33 tower blocks of over 40 storeys each. That is still massive.

And isn’t there going to be any social housing – low and low-medium cost housing – in the Turf Club site itself?

RM25 billion PGCC: 33 tower blocks, over 40 storeys each

It’s a RM25 billion whopper: about 33 tower blocks, each over 40 storeys high on the land being used by the Penang Turf Club. Imagine that!

And it looks like two different meetings on the Penang Global City Centre (PGCC) project are going to be held at two posh venues on Monday, 10 September – one at The Mansion and the other at the Penang Sports Club.

I now gather that the meeting at the Penang Sports Club was requested by the Jesselton Residents Association, which is concerned about this mega project on the doorstep of their peaceful and tranquil neighbourhood. Apparently, the developers requested that only three reps attend the meeting but the Jesselton Residents Association asked for 10.

The meeting at the Mansion will be a briefing on the PGCC on behalf of the developer (Abad Naluri) by Equine Capital executive chairman Patrick Lim (who is said by some to be the most influential businessman in Malaysia). The target audience: activists and performing arts people. Let’s see how many people actually turn up. I believe activists from the main Penang-based NGOs are boycotting the event; I am not sure about the performing arts folk though.

This briefing is being arranged by the Fox Communication people in Penang, K Y Pung, The Star’s former regional associate editor, and Mohd Tajudin, former journalist of theSun.

Timber firms to receive soft loans a.k.a. subsidies

Timber firms are set to receive millions of ringgit in soft loans from the government under a “reforestation” programme.

In this article for IPS, I discussed two questions:

  • Why should profitable timber firms receive soft loans, which in effect are subsidies?
  • Is this really a reforestation programme or will such commercial tree plantations actually cause the deforestation of logged-over (but still viable) rainforests?

Fox makes its move

Not making much headway with the Penang-based NGOs, the Fox Communication/Equine people have now trained their sights on the Jesselton Residents Association, neighbouring the Turf Club. The latest I hear is that this meeting will be held on 10 September at the Penang Sports Club nearby – two days before the official launch of the Penang Global City Centre mega project on the Turf Club land.

This means the idea to hold the meeting at “The Mansion” has probably been dropped. What to do, their original invitees don’t want to turn up. Update: Now I hear they are targeting the performing arts people and trying to woo them with the proposed performing arts centre in the PGCC. And they are still trying to round up activists to attend the Mansion meeting.

But hey, the Penang Sports Club is still pretty exclusive. Members – and their guests – only.

Apparently, they want to limit the meeting to 10 reps from the resident association. Maybe they are worried the public might turn up and start shouting at them.

But if Fox/Equine think its going to be smooth sailing with the residents association, they have another thing coming. Jesselton Heights is a tranquil, lush green upper-middle-class neighbourhood in Penang – perhaps equivalent to Damansara in KL (though I am not sure what that is like these days!).

A phone call from Fox

This is no rumour.

I was reading an article by Raja Petra of Malaysia Today about Abdullah Badawi, Patrick Lim and rumours that someone had forwarded to me – when suddenly, the phone rang.

It was a guy, Tajudin, from Fox Communication.

Fox is the firm handling the PR for Patrick Lim’s Penang Global City Centre mega project. Lim is of course the executive chairman of Equine Capital, which is also involved in another project on mainland Penang – the 450-acre mixed residential and commercial development in Batu Kawan known as the Crescentia project. Crescentia, close to where the proposed second bridge is located, has an estimated gross development value of RM860 million. We are talking big bucks here.

Anyway back to the PGCC project. We are talking even bigger bucks here.

Tajudin was under the impression that I was the one coordinating on the NGO side the meeting between activists and the PGCC developers, which Lim wants to address on 10 Sept, just two days before the official project launch.

Whatever gave Tajudin that idea?