Affordable housing in Penang: Whither PDC?


The Penang Development Corporation (PDC) – and even municipal councils – once used to play an admirable role in providing Penangites with affordable housing.

Goh Ban Lee recalls in this piece for Seri’s Penang Eonomic Monthly (August 2009) that:

The issue of shortage of housing for the poor in Penang is puzzling. As early as in 1950s, even before the country achieved independence from Britain, there were efforts by the government to help the lower income groups to have adequate shelter.

More specifically, George Town’s Municipal Council which eventually evolved into the Penang Island Municipal Council of today began building quarters for its lower paid workers as early as 1946. Two years later, it also built low-cost houses for sale to the public at $2,775 each (Penang – Past and Present, 1966:86). It then went on to build many housing units to be rented to the poor, such as those in Trengganu Road and Cintra Street. After almost half a century, these are still among the most sought-after housing units for the lower income groups.

The Seberang Perai Municipal Council (MPSP) and its predecessor also built low-cost housing units to be sold to the poor. For instance, in 1959 the Butterworth Town Council built low-cost houses in Jalan Mohd Saad costing between $5,000 and $12,000 each.

The Penang State Government has also been building low-cost houses for the poor. They include those in Kampung Melayu, Nordin Street Ghaut, Riffle Range, Kedah Road and recently, in cooperation with the federal government and MPPP, in the Lines Road area.

Discussing the role of the PDC, Ban Lee observes:

A vehicle to build houses and set standards

The most effective way for the state government to solve the housing problems, especially those related to affordability, is for it to have a vehicle, such as a housing board to build houses. While it is always good to have a vehicle to do things directly, the idea of a board should be treated as an agenda, rather than as a project to be carried out without further deliberations.

The state has the Penang Development Corporation (PDC). In the early days of its incorporation in the early 1970s, it was the major mover in the development of housing in areas where the state government wanted to have development. For instance, to push for the development and popularity of the Bayan Lepas Industrial Zone and the Bayan Lepas Free Trade Zone, the state government also incorporated the development of the Bayan Baru town-ship. Apart from promoting industrialisation, PDC was also tasked to build houses. The first batch of houses built were single-storey terrace houses and single-storey semi-detached houses with prices ranging from about RM18,000 to RM40,000 each in mid-1970s.The PDC was not building low-cost housing in the first phase of the project. The terrace houses in Island Glades then were selling from RM27,000 to RM50,000. Indeed, to attract buyers, the PDC even gave a stove, garbage bin and a choice of a fruit tree to each of the first batch of house buyers. Today, these houses are selling for RM400,000 to RM700,000 each! The contributions of PDC in building houses and successful industrialisation of Penang deserve a book-length documentation. It is clear that its roles have changed substantially. It is a sad reflection of how far it has gone awry when it is building houses costing more than a million ringgit each and selling large chunks of land to other property development companies.

While the pros and cons of a board or company to build and manage houses are being considered, the state should not forget that PDC was able to perform this role rather adequately. It is also useful to remember that the job that InvestPenang is doing was also part of the portfolio of the PDC. For the full article go here.

I hope PDC can return to the role it played in providing affordable housing – a task it once performed with distinction.

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By the way, Iron, maybe i am kind enough to correct you, it is “stuff” not “stuffs”, ok?

Good day!


Some readers here are just like … kena belacan… They had been sleeping for the past 18, 30 and 50 years… After 308, these zoombies suddenly woke up … accusing Lim Guan Eng for everything, rightly or wrongly just because Lim Guan Eng didnt pay attention to them… So, these bunch of losers are throwing tantrums here, they dare not do it in other’s blog, try Zorro’s and see what you will get from Bernard… Shame! shame! shame, penangites (to those losers)…! P/S If you all dont like Lim Guan Eng, then, by all means vote for Khir Toyo to… Read more »


So, these bunch of losers are throwing tantrums here, they dare not do it in other’s blog, try Zorro’s and see what you will get from Bernard…

Oh wow !

You ran out of stuffs and you wanna call Unker Zorro for assistance ?

LOL !!!

But anyway, thanks for the compliment.


1970s selling RM 27,000…today selling Rm 400,000. What is the Gerakan state government doing in 30 years? Why can’t they locked it then, special price for the poor. Now LGE has to clear this (mess) up as soon as possible.

Gerakan K

If in 2010 that housing price still within region of RM30000 then that is a failed state’s economy. Many thanks for previous BN government that ensure continuous booming economy and rising property value in Penang. LGE administration needs to deal with 60 million compensation very soon. No thanks to LGE and his team.

p/s: please support 1Malaysia concept by BN government


Gerakan K, You are just a shameless guy that just spew half truth and true lies. Where can you find a RM30,000 house or flat in Penang with the exception of wooden house in slum in the mainland that has no grant. Yes, LGE administration has to deal with the 60 million compensation due to the INCOMPETENCY of zero KPI Gerakan KTK. Yes he will soon solve this problem just like he has done for KB Pala. UMNO & BN can continue with their antic with people from MIC, MCA, Gerakan and stooges… & miserable people like Zahrain, TTBeng,Noordin and… Read more »


1970s selling RM 27,000…today selling Rm 400,000 In the 1970’s, one plate of char koay teow cost 20 cents. Yes, a freaking 20 cents and you got a plate of char koay teow, with sea hum some more. Of course la, no shrimp no egg la, but still a plate of famous Penang delicious char koay teow what ! Can you tell me how how much for a plate of char koay teow now ? I don’t like Koh Tsu Koon as much as the next guy but let’s be fair, okay? Inflation does take a heavy toll on the… Read more »


Ahhh… we are not against development. As long as the poor is included. Thanks for clarifying.


Hahaha, LGE just came in and he was accused of abuses. Do you all have short term memories? How many years did Gerakan rule Penang and for how many years did the poors & middles are struggling to get the affordable house? Is it started when LGE came in?


Like I said before, there are a lot of “yadda yadda people” from DAP spreading their “yadda yadda 52 years, yadda yadda 2 years, yadda yadda yadda” gospels everywhere trying their best to excuse Lim Guan Eng from anything and everything.

That “hahaha” is returned back to you.



You got is wrong. The CAT govt of LGE is indeed building affordable housing all across the island in hundreds. The only thing is it is only affordable to the rich and politically connected.

LGE probably wants those middle class folks like us that we shouldn’t oppose development and if we don’t like it we also should take a hike and move to somewhere cheaper like Nibong Tebal, or better still Kedah.

CAT – Condos, Apartments and Townhouses.
DAP – Development Above People


The state government is doing and planing,wait for the results. They must be be given time and support to do and deliver. Give your trust and support to them.


Like almost everything else set up by Tun Lim Chong Eu, PDC has been abandoned by both Koh Tsu Koon and Lim Guan Eng.

Sad, isn’t it?

Penang was once so lucky, we had Lim Chong Eu, the best leader bar none in Malaysia.

No thanks to Lim Kit Siang, we Penangites lost the leadership of Lim Chong Eu.

What we had from then onwards was a long slide downwards.

Both Koh Tsu Koon and Lim Guan Eng have done injustice to Penang.


PDC has never build affordable housing for the people. Lim Chong Eu is just being lucky at the right time and place. When Penang fell to Gerakan in 1969, Penang just like the rest of the country and the whole of SEA, just free from colonialism has just started to move forward with their low paying people and labour intensive industries. After 40 years we have now lagged behind countries like Vietnam, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand and even Indonesia.. What a sham that BN UMNO cronies has siphoned off millions from the people.


“Lim Chong Eu is just being lucky at the right time and place. When Penang fell to Gerakan in 1969, Penang just like the rest of the country and the whole of SEA, just free from colonialism has just started to move forward with their low paying people and labour intensive industries.” Lim Chong Eu had it easy, you say? Do you know what was the unemployment rate in Penang in the late 1960’s and the early 1970’s? Do you know why Lim Chong Eu came up with the FTZ in Bayan Lepas and Prai? Do you know why Lim… Read more »