‘Bing chui’ lifestyle spreads to mainland Penang?


Hot on the heels of plans for a theme park and golf resort in Batu Kawan, comes another plan for a 40-acre “international-class” “Penang Designer Village” that would include a mall tenanted by “first-tier luxury international brands retailing branded items at discounted prices”.

Also included is a 300-room “international-class” hotel, cafes and F&B outlets and residential units.

These upper-middle class hangouts are supposed to make residential living in Batu Kawan “more attractive” for the folks in the 12000 affordable homes being built by the PDC.

But I am not sure if the people who live in such “affordable homes” will be able to afford such luxuries, given how hard pressed many ordinary people are in coping with higher grocery prices and growing indebtednesss – a result of the neoliberal, property-centric, FDI-based model we are pursuing.

What do you think? Is this what Batu Kawan needs or is this a case of the “bing chui” – the keeping-up-with-the- Joneses – consumerist lifestyle spreading its wings across the channel to mainland Penang?

Will this be mainland Penang’s equivalent of Gurney Paragon and STP2, which I believe caters for the top 1-5 per cent to “work, live, learn, shop and play” while the rest can only gawk and “window-shop”? (By the way, what’s happening to Midland One-Stop Centre and the mall at Times Square in Penang?)

And how about allocating land for a large public park which would better serve recreational needs of the people? Wouldn’t we better off also allocating land to ensure our food security in the long run?

Incidentally, the premium for the land works out to RM37.50 per square foot.

Meanwhile, check out a reader’s letter to FMT on his concern over what will happen to recreational/public spaces (i.e. the commons) in Batu Kawan.

This is a statement from a state government source.


George Town, Penang, Friday, 11 October 2013 – Penang’s Chief Minister Mr. Lim Guan Eng today announced the setting up of a premium retail shopping outlet in Batu Kawan, the latest component in the State Government’s plan to develop Batu Kawan with new attractions towards a quality place to work, live, learn, shop and play. The Penang state government hopes that the Premier Shopping Outlet will help to make residential living in Batu Kawan more attractive for affordable homes built by the Penang Development Corporation (12,000 units). The Penang state government wishes to dispel negative perceptions that this new satellite township in Batu Kawan is inferior to living on the island.

Covering an area of 40 acres, the international-class destination – which will include excellent facilities and scenic landscaping – is planned to include the following:

An up-market outlet shopping mall tenanted by first-tier luxury international brands retailing branded items at discounted prices;

A 300-room international-class hotel;

Attractions such as cafés and F&B outlets, and a landscaped garden with a children’s playgrounds and residential units

PDC had offered this catalyst project by open competitive tender. The project was awarded to PE Land Sdn Bhd , the successful tenderer and operates Sarawak’s premier mall, Kuching’s The Spring Mall – which will own, build and operates the facilities while CB Richard Ellis (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd will act as the principal consultant. Payment for the land premium of RM65.34 million will be within three months from the date of the Purchase and Development Agreement.

Branded as Penang Designer Village of the GDV (Gross Development Value) of RM 1 billion, this outlet shopping mall and the hotel and developments related to it are expected to be completed within thirty-six (36) months from the date of the Purchase and Development Agreement.

The development is in line with PDC’s policy to promote and sell land to attract catalyst projects to Batu Kawan’s Bandar Cassia which is targeted to provide other services like shopping outlets, specialist hospital, international school, and recreational facilities. Further announcements will be made shortly. These new investments are expected to help complement the rapid development of Batu Kawan which in recent years has witnessed the entry of premier companies such as Bose Systems, Honda, Malaysian Automotive Lighting and VAT Manufacturing.

The PDC, in striving for sustainable development, is optimistic that the presence of companies such as PE Land and CB Richard Ellis will ensure successful implementation of integrated international-class lifestyle district, providing synergy and support for accelerating the growth and development of Batu Kawan.

PE Land Sdn Bhd, with a paid-up capital of RM3.7 Million, is the property development arm of PE Holdings and under Pan Sarawak Group, while CB Richard Ellis is a Fortune 500 and S&P 500 company, headquartered in Los Angeles, and is also the world’s largest commercial real estate services firm in terms of its revenue in 2011.

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don anamalai
don anamalai
21 Oct 2013 9.47am

This is a good article by Singapore’s writer Sumiko Tan (as appeared on The Star) that is good for all ‘Bin Chui seekers’ in Penang to read and digest: We don’t need to do fancy things to be content http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Regional/2013/10/20/We-dont-need-to-do-fancy-things-to-be-content.aspx She wrote: When I was in my 20s and 30s, I shunned ordinary. I wanted my life to be bigger, brighter and better than it was. I longed for an exciting life, not a dull or, worse, ordinary one. [Today] was an ordinary day, yes, but a very happy one. It’s taken me some time, but I’ve come to realise… Read more »

21 Oct 2013 10.58pm
Reply to  don anamalai

don anamalai, say that to our CM & see what’s his reaction. It applies not only to the commoners.
Undersea tunnel is one of such fancy things that gomen would love to use public funds for grand & fancy development. Including cosmopolitan richie housing beyond the reach of you & me.

16 Oct 2013 10.58pm

I am quite confused with what the state govt is up to. So when did the state planned to turn Batu Kawan into massive “international class attraction”? As I know the land is meant for residential and industrial use. How come suddenly the land is now allowed to be developed for commercial purposes ? This will defeat the objective of making Bandar Cassia as an affordable living zone. Since the commercial development will be completed way before the houses are built, we can expect the price of houses to sky rocket. Soon only the super rich will able to afford… Read more »

16 Oct 2013 3.00pm

S+tart buying the land in Batu Kawan. It will go up within the next few years

Don Anamalai
Don Anamalai
17 Oct 2013 10.20am
Reply to  Anil Netto

I am surprised that Yang is promoting speculation of property price.
He has been portraying himself in his past comments as the victim of high property price in Penang. What an irony. Please do not bring this ‘island disease’ to the mainland of Butterworth.

ps: Do not be overcome by greed. It will bring suffering.

16 Oct 2013 2.18pm

Premium shopping mall or high-end restaurant for different segment of market ie. those rich and affluent foreigners or tourists who can spend to benefit the Penangites. So I see no reason why certain people must complain.

If you cannot afford such luxury, do not envy those who can.

Tay S
Tay S
16 Oct 2013 1.49pm

Penang State revenue comes from a very narrow band of items listed in the State List. The annual income is smaller than the allocation to USM or even the General Hospital. You cannot seriously expect the Pg state government to scrifice so much revenue even if it wanted to. THE ONLY SOLUTION TO THIS IS TO GET A NEW WAY OF SHARING THE REVENUE LIKE WHAT THEY DO IN AUSTRALIA. This will only happens whn hell freezes over.

Hua Sai
Hua Sai
16 Oct 2013 11.20am

Penang ori-maestro hawkers are not stupid. They know they are in demand and therefore they are charging premium price. I think they are hoping to earn as much as their children are unlikely to continue the trade.This is no a bin chui issue but competitive trade in demand-supply situation. So long as there are demand for their food, they are not afraid to raise price.

16 Oct 2013 9.15am

Hmmm….and with Sarawak its all Taib Taib and Taib…rings a bell?Fact of life..in land scarce areas , property prices will always be a premium. Land owners will not sell out cheaply, therefore prices of property will not be cheap.There are no bargains when it comes to real estate. Look at JB. spill over effects of Singaporean tourist dollars. Years ago, I had a bowl of special fishball noodles at RM 15!!The quantity was not enough to be considered a meal!If one is single and eat out 3 times per day, how much would the food bill be??One can complain all… Read more »

Kentun Liang
16 Oct 2013 12.00am

Batu Kawan will be better off as “Global Retirement Village”.With good infrastructure and first-class facilities to cater to the needs of retirees I am sure Malaysians and foreigners will want to retire in Batu Kawan. Imagine the positive impact on the state’s economy.

Kentun Liang
16 Oct 2013 12.35am
Reply to  Anil Netto

For those who can afford the asking price to stay at a five star facility.

don anamalai
don anamalai
17 Oct 2013 12.54pm
Reply to  Kentun Liang

SINGAPORE’S self-styled “Dr Love”, Dr Wei Siang Yu, is leading a group of Asian businessmen to invest more than $50 million in a retirement park in Johor that is mainly aimed at Singaporeans.

About 100 freehold landed homes, from 1,500 to 5,000 sq ft, will be built on a 4.86ha plot in Senai in the Iskandar region.

A 1,500 sq ft single-storey unit, with a bedroom, living room and garden is expected to cost about $350,000. The 5,000 sq ft homes will cost about $900,000.

Construction is scheduled to be completed by 2015.


15 Oct 2013 11.07pm

Anil. Its complicated.

15 Oct 2013 10.46pm

Actually from the article, its hard to tell if you think the state government is “bing chui” or most of the general public are. The reality is most people don’t just want a place to live in, they want all the amenities, security, convenience and also want to see their house appreciate like crazy. When the government proposed to build a huge housing project in Batu Kawan, most people were not interested. Just like many people were not interested in the early housing projects in Green Lane, Pantai Jerejak as it used to be isolated and rural. Like I said… Read more »

Awang Selamat I
Awang Selamat I
15 Oct 2013 7.59pm

Wah! Bro Anil faham “bing chui” ka? Apa itu? Lim Guan Eng? What shall I say? He needs to bring in investments and create more jobs. Malaysians are suffering, Penangnites are suffering. Does he really care for the poor? Because of UMNO baru’s populist policy of extending the retirement age to 60, 1 million jobs are delayed and fresh graduates cannot get jobs. Does Lim Guan Eng know? Forget about the Riot guy who said Malaysia had reached full employment. Those people always contradict each other. Lim Guan Eng must be responsible for uncontrolled developments. What happened in Teluk Kumbar… Read more »

15 Oct 2013 4.54pm

Its not about bing chui. I think its good to bring development to the underdeveloped area. In fact the govt should also develop areas like SPU like Bertam, Kepala Batas

Chin Tann Kaw
Chin Tann Kaw
15 Oct 2013 4.31pm

Anil Such ‘bing chui” commercial set-up create jobs for Batu Kawan new residents. Bear in mind Penang is gearing towards Service Industry like tourism (domestic or foreign from Sumatra/Thailand richie rich tourists). FTZ Manufacturing is in twilight unless the new brains can transform it into “silicon valley” type of ventures. Also ori-maestros can seek new pasture in mainland catering for new influs of tourists. Otherwise, island char kway teow will continue to price upwards if we do not divert tourists to mainland Penang (also divert vehicular traffic). ps fyi Lor Selamat Char Kway Teow with 4 medium prawns now RM10… Read more »

Chin Tann Kaw
Chin Tann Kaw
15 Oct 2013 5.29pm
Reply to  Anil Netto

Yes, RM10 a plate with special “liao” especially for those with big pocket !
RM10 ~S$3.8 or US$3.1 still considered cheap to “tourists” as they think the lady in goggles is a ori-maesto celebrity ?

15 Oct 2013 6.24pm
Reply to  Anil Netto

Anil, I think I have to register the word “Ori-maestro” under Penang street food category.
Good for authentic Pg street hawker food promotion & well as for my 3-inch deep pocket with 5 cent coins.
“Living” street food museum (like this red beret Char Koay Teow Ori-maestro) & heritage-purpose Penang Street Food Museum (proposed in Macalister Road?) will definitely attract the much needed tourist dollars & create employment thro’ spin-off businesses.
Cheers Kopi-O kau kau to all enterprising Penang Ori-maestros serving heavenly street hawker cuisine to Tham Chiak Kuis.

16 Oct 2013 6.59am
Reply to  Anil Netto

Gua boh ‘bing chui’, how to register?
That’s the price of lifestyle dilemma of living in (almost) Cosmopolitan Penang (now inclusive of Seberang mainland of previously Boh Bing Chui).

If I am not entirely wrong in my choices, Belum rainforest is still my best option for the rest of my happier life.