Let them eat golf balls


These days, those who go to the market often complain about the high prices of foodstuff including vegetables. It’s the stuff that many household heads talk about, especially the working class. How on earth to make ends meet…

We are now forced to rely on vegetables from Cameron Highlands, transported by lorries to various markets in towns and cities in the peninsula.

But it wasn’t always like this. In Penang for instance, until the 1980s, large quantities of vegetables were grown on the island. Vegetable farms in Thean Teik supplied close to eight tonnes of vegetables daily and lots of fruit to meet a huge portion of the needs of Penangites. There were other vegetable farms, notably in the Tanjong Tokong area.

But then, our city planners and the BN-led administration, in their wisdom, allowed developers and land trustees to kick out these farmers to make way for “development”. In the Thean Teik case, it led to a bitter confrontation, which the farmers lost.

Some development. Now, we have to get our vegetables from elsewhere. Factor in higher transport cost, higher demand, the rising cost of chemical pesticides and fertilisers and fewer urban vegetable farms, and it’s no wonder vegetable prices are rising.

The argument was that land in Penang was scarce and the farmers had to make way for development.

So looking at the issue from this perspective, I am bewildered that the Pakatan state government is rejoicing because Korean “investors” are planning a US$100 million golf course in Batu Kawan in Penang – a state which cannot find  land to grow enough vegetables to feed its population.

How much is PDC selling the land for? How many acres are we talking about here? Is this really the most productive use of land that PDC and the state government can think of in land-scarce Penang, which already has golf courses in Bertam and Bukit Jambul?

Speech By Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng During The Signing Of The Memorandum Of Understanding(MOU) Between Penang Development Corporation (PDC) And DK ENC Company Ltd In Seoul, Korea On 30.10.2008 Released In Penang On 1.11.2008.

The US$ 100 Million Golf Course In Batu Kawan Is A Testimony Of The Confidence Of Korean Investors In Penang’s Future Despite The Global Financial Crisis And Belief In Our Commitment To Transforming Penang Into An International City.

The Penang state government welcomes the signing of the MOU between PDC and DK ENC to build a US$ 100 million golf course in Batu Kawan as a testimony of the confidence of Korean investors in Penang’s future in spite of the global financial crisis. By proceeding ahead with the golf project during such uncertain times, Korean investors have also signalled their belief in the new government’s commitment to transforming Penang into an international city.

To transform Penang into an international city, we want participation from all nationalities. We have investors from many countries. But we need to work harder to get more investors from some countries such as Korea, without which Penang can not claim to be a truly international city.

Korea has achieved tremendous success in growing its economy from a poor war-torn state to a developed nation. The success of Korea can be seen by its per capita GNP of only US$130 as compared to Malaysia’s US$350 in 1966. Korea’s GNP per capita is now more than US$18,000 as compared to Malaysia’s US$6,000/-. From almost three times better off than Korea 42 years ago, Malaysia is now three times worse than Korea.

The remarkable economic success of Korea was achieved without any natural resources such as oil and commodities, except for its people. There is much to learn from the success of Korea’s economic transformation based on a culture of excellence, a strong work ethic, openness to new ideas and mastery of technology.

Penang bears some similarities in that we are also without natural resources. Penang’s success was built on our human resources and our faith in the ability of the people. Korea’s GDP of US$982 billion in 2007 comprising of 57% services and 40% manufacturing mirrors Penang’s small US$7.5 billion economy. Penang hopes not only to attract investors and tourists to the beautiful city of Penang but also learn how we can replicate Korea’s success.

Everyone knows that Korea’s success does not rest in economic performance alone but also in its popular pop culture, famous throughout Asia, and its sporting athletes. Korean lady golfers are the best in the world reflecting the Korean love for golf.

This US$ 100 million project by DK ENC, which has a track record of building golf courses not only in Korea but also in Ho Chi Minh city, will not only give opportunity for Koreans to indulge in your love for golf but also offer employment and business opportunities for Penangnites. This US$ 100 million mixed development golf project when completed in 2013, will be the most expensive in Penang.

To make Penang a unique attractive destination, we will be taking measures to improve safety and security on one of the safest cities in Malaysia. We will also be improving on traffic and transportation systems as well as communications facilities. Penang will be the first wifi state in Malaysia when our free wireless and affordable wimax services are completed in 2 years. By then anyone can be connected to the Internet any time, any place and any where in Penang for free.

Penang is proud to be the only state promoting Korea in Malaysia. We organised the Korean Food Fest last month and will be organising a Korean cultural performance at the end of this year. By heading a 52-member business delegation to participate in the Asia Pacific Tourism and Investment Conference during the middle of the global financial crisis shows that Penang is committed in welcoming Korean investors or tourists and sincere in being your friend. We offer our friendship and co-operation towards greater prosperity together.


Interesting that Penang is described as one of the safest cities in Malaysia…

To show us how CAT works in practice, the state government must also tell us how much the whole trip cost and who paid for it. Even if the state government did not spend a cent, we want to know who is picking up the tab for state government representatives on official duty.

A few other questions:

  • Why do we need Koreans to build a golf course in Penang? Can’t locals or Penangites build one on their own if there is land available? Not that building a golf-course is the smartest thing to do…
  • Which plot of land are we talking about? Shouldn’t there be an open tender for this land?
  • What other investments have been secured? Was it the right timing for such a trip given the major economic problems right now?  Aren’t Korean firms feeling insecure about their own economic well being in the face of Korea’s own economic problems now?
  • Why do we need to wait for someone to return from China (according to a Malaysiakini report) to know how much the trip cost? Isn’t there a Penang state government-approved budget for the trip?
  • What have we got to show from this mission? An MOU for a golf course?

The larger issue is that we can no longer rely on FDI to spur economic growth. FDI is drying up all over as the global economic slowdown and US recession kicks in, and if we think that a golf course will attract the almighty foreign investors, then we are going to find ourselves disappointed. The neo-liberal economic model and “free market” fundamentalism have flopped spectacularly and it’s time to go back to the basics. Like ensuring our self-sufficiency in food, upgrading public transport, providing better schools and skills training institutions, and enhancing facilities for SMEs.

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This is right here, in the present, not the future.


Hi there, There are always pros and cons about building a golf course. I am a golf course designer working in KL. This may sound contadictory to my believes but the nagative impacts of a golf course outweights the benefits. However, with the right design approach and managemet golf course owners can reverse the nagative effects. Using golf courses to as a wildlife (especially for birds) is an example. I think the penang state government should look at what the developers’ approach in managing the golf course is (both financially, enviromentally and also socially). So please tell CM Lim to… Read more »



we’re trading off food for industry again

Jason Loh

Anil’s point as always is well taken. Good job, Anil! However, as said by Richard, please read Jeff Ooi’s report on the tirp on his blog. CM Guan Eng is doing a marvelous job. In times like this we need both, Anil’s self-sufficiency approach + openness to the outside world. Liberalisation, globalisation, internationalisation, etc. etc. is the way *forward*. In other words, we need to be self-reliant *and* sustain mutual dependency. Being more open, creates more opportunity to be even more co-dependent for growing together. Penang will be an international city, flourish and thrive as an international city under the… Read more »


If you wanted foreigners to invest and open factories, you must have some outlet for them. Not all of them are bujangs when they come to malai. They bring families along. If not Korean companies open factory but no kaptain wanted to man the operation because there is nothing for them to do. Golf and club would induce more koreans to come over. Like in overseas, you will to to malai resturants to meet some folks and taste belachan, curries and chilli. The golf is not only for koreans but Europeans who will worship the sun during summer and get… Read more »


Jeff Ooi just explained the Korean Trip http://www.jeffooi.com/2008/11/gerakan_and_umno_the_oppositio.php

I agree that we cannot only look at the near future but must invest and prepare for the eventual upswing in the economy.

The golf course is reported to be ready only in 2011 which means construction will be between 2009 & 2010 – providing a boost in the construction sector during this downturn.

If the Pg Govt can convince the two technology companies to set camp in Pg, then this as a start, i would consider the Korean jaunt a successful trip.

Richard Loh

Creating a scene, I might say. Before blasting all the way to create a somewhat bad perception about this golf thingy, you can always reach out to them for some answers. Blogging this way and letting the public run wild with falsehood ideas about the government does not do us any good. Tell about the whole thing, the trip to Korea in total, do they gain overall. In international business you have to give and take and maybe the golf thingy is one of the leeway to get better other deals. Please read all about this trip from MP Jeff… Read more »


I am sitting across the road from 1 Ampang Avenue & right next to a Korean Golf Academy. I can tell you that patrons are coming in as early as 07:30 to hit balls INDOORS!

So, maybe it’s a good move – the Koreans are certain investing plenty around Ampang Point & like their golf – maybe Penang can get a slice of the action.


Can LGE and his gang collect data on how many golf courses per capita in Malaysia?

My gut feeling is Malaysia may be the top one in term of golf course acreage per capita in Asean.

Do we need extra golf course in a land scarce state like Penang?


I remembered LGE (or DAP gang) did criticize BN government for approving too many golf courses in the past.

IF the project is to make golf sticks and golf balls, I think more rakyat will be benefitted and also less rubber or palmoil trees are chopping down.

To remind LGE, golf course produces more carbon footprint than rubber or palmoil plantation.


LGE should be commended for his efforts to invite investment. All predictions are that we’re in for a bumpy economic future, globally. Starved of cash [blame the Feds], Pg has to be packaged and sold creatively as a place where foreign capital might want to invest in. This is just part of a holistic package, a lure, a precursor to other things. That is the reason the delegation is big, because it is a multifarious, multi-pronged effort.

I don't know

Kopitalk36, even my Korean friend shops in the wet market for the biggest, freshest and cheapest white cabbage so she can make kim chee to sell to friends… that’s reality today in Penang for you.


dear anil
here on the mainland called Semanjong, usually golf courses are proposed as development projects, without thinking how many rakyats are born golfers. Then the golf courses (std 18 holes can fit into 200 acres??) are actually property development projects. I just wonder how so many property developers get their honorifics titles, some with a collection of titles from so many states ? Definitely golf courses are not for the man on the street. He needs to buy cheaper veges, not a diet of golf balls.

Reasonable Person

Sure – condemm what you can. I wonder if anyone saw this at all. I am very sure that many of us want to kick PR’s butt but grow up lar. I am sure there are good investments and bad ones. Once blinded, I think you can’t seem to get enough of it. When Gerakan was around, did anyone talk about PGCC? I guess only Anil and friends did. Folks grow up. You are acting like idiots. I wonder again whether folks here are genuinely reading well or blinded by another Tsu Koon pipe piper nonsense…read and be happy. I… Read more »


In the interest of CAT, Lim Guan Eng should come out and explain the benefit of this golf course project to the people.

No use talking transparency if he does not practice. What is the cost to Penang? What are the benefits. Is there a better to use the precious land.

I don't know

I know of 5 Korean families — all living in middle range apartments in Penang. Out of these five, two families are living on some sort of charity and sponsorships. One of the families is using Penang as a stop gap while awaiting residency approvals in a cooler climate. In the meanwhile the children are all studying in local public Chinese schools and they shop in our local wet markets. Hmmm… maybe we are targetting this sector of Koreans? Maybe, the government is talking about those who are living in the 2.5 million ringgit condos? Actually, I only know two… Read more »

Jen Ooi

I am a businesswoman — not a “green genie” nor a “greedy politician”. I only believe in earning a good honest living. I want progress, progress that is sustainable and that which is not going to rear its ugly monstrous head on us several years down the road, when every broker has got his money and left town. I want sustainable development that does not hurt the people and generations to come. For that matter I disagree with people who are defeatists — I say you are not qualified to say that WE PENANG PEOPLE have no choice but to… Read more »


Guan Eng, it irks me to hear your waffling like your predecessor. Give us substance men! You said you were different and we believed in you. If you haven’t got it then look around for good resources to help you — and for heaven’s sake not cronies and salesmen again!! What is this US100 million golf course going to mean, truthfully? Has proper market research been done? Where are the facts and figures? Don’t just tell us jobs will be created la, we want to know what jobs and how many jobs and how much. Don’t just tell us golfers… Read more »


Will growing vegetables in Penang be the real solution to our problems? If we really are able to produce significantly cheaper vegetables than Kedah, Perak, Cameron Highlands, or the rest of Malaysia, what is there to stop these vegetables from being sold nationwide at greater profit for these farmers? What guarantee is there that vegetables sold in Penang will automatically be cheaper in Penang? Prices of staples will always rise, there is only so much we can do temporarily to stem this rise. But this is in no case permanent. The solution should be to have the income of our… Read more »

Rocket Man

my 2 cents thoughts DK ENC Company Ltd may see what ordinary folks don’t. i.e. big Korean investment in Penang. A huge Korean community in Penang in the future. Korean are very similar like japanese (correct me if i am wrong), they would want to make their presence felt and proud of it. Look at KL, how many golf courses managed by Japanese n how many of thier members are Japanese. How they felt at home at their “own club”. Same is going to happen to the Koreans when they invest in Penang, they want a place that they feel… Read more »


As an ex-Pengangite, I congratulate LGE to come back with at least a big project. A beggar has no choice and Penang today is no longer a shining attraction like before. Take what you can and hopefully, more will follow. Don’t think for a moment that the Koreans are push-overs. Show them your hospitality and I am sure, Hyundai might even consider opening a manufacturing workshop later. But without a golf course to attract them, you have no chance. Therefore, so long as the project is above board, count yourself lucky. Who knows, there might just a another Vijay Singh… Read more »


“mut on November 3rd, 2008 at 11.02am What I don’t get is why the delegation had to be so big.” Overseas missions normally do not consist solely of govt officials. Local businessmen interested in biz opportunities with Koreans are invited along. I believe they make up the majority, and they pay for their own expenses!! I notice there is a Korean on this website. Sorry if I offended you, but I am sure you are one of the nice Koreans who will let me pass when you are playing slowly or not hitting a golfball on my head when I… Read more »


Have you ever been to Batu Kawan?……..What is your first impression when you are in B.Kawan? A city or rural area. A white elephant stadium is still there. If you are an investor, are you going to put your money in B.Kawan. Previous BN goverment try to develop B.Kawan by building a stadium.It still fails to develop B.Kawan into a third satelite city. What happen to B.Kawan if state government turns this area into farming industry. I think you better ask Lee Kuan Yew. Singapore is a small island like Penang facing scarce of land. How Mr.Lee can feed its… Read more »


Another golf course?
Where is the development for the people?
We need a good public transport. We need a better library. We need a better equip schools with capable (enough paid) teachers.
We need Penang to be clean. We don’t need more mud in Gurney Plaza. We need to reform the parking attendance (thugs).

Golf course is way below on Penang priority list.


we’ve become like third countries who have opened up their market and forced to become import dependant from self sufficient