Do we need another ‘theme park’ and golf resort in land-scarce Penang? (updated)

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At present Penang has four major golf courses:

  1. The Bukit Jambul Country Club, an 18-hole golf course on the island, rated the second most beautiful course in Malaysia
  2. The Penang Golf Resort, a 36-hole course in Bertam on the mainland designed by Graham Marsh.
  3. The Air Force Club’s 9-hole course in Butterworth, originally set up by the Royal Australian Air Force.
  4. The Bukit Jawi Golf Resort, a 36-hole “golfer’s paradise” spread over a 315-acre fairway.

With three golf courses on the mainland alone, do we really need a fourth? Is that the best and most environmentally friendly use of our scarce land?

Original post on 21 September:

What are our development priorities? Do we really need a 215-acre theme park and a 470-acre golf resort in land-scarce Penang especially at a time when we are allocating only a fraction of that kind of area for low-income housing projects, public open green spaces and farmland for vegetables and fruit (to promote food security and keep food prices down)?

We always complain that land is scarce in Penang to build liveable low-income housing. At Jalan S P Chelliah on the island, for instance, the state is cramming in 1900 homes into 11 acres.

Do visitors really come to Penang to check out the theme parks and golf courses? Or do they come to savour the cultures, the street food, the architectural heritage?

How different is this project from the usual BN projects? How different is this from Mukhriz’s plan for an ‘eco-theme park’ in Langkawi? I think when people see the tagline “Cleaner, greener Penang”, they probably don’t associate it with golf putting greens.

Sigh … what next.

REQUEST FOR PROPOSAL (RFP) INTERNATIONAL THEME PARK AND GOLF RESORT DEVELOPMENT IN BANDAR CASSIA, BATU KAWAN, THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF PROVINCE WELLESLEY, PEN

Penang Development Corporation (PDC) invites local and international companies to submit Request For Proposal (RFP) for the development of International Theme Park and Golf Resort in Bandar Cassia, Batu Kawan, Penang.

This RFP is for the purchase and to develop 215 acres land for the International Theme Park and 470 acres land for International Golf Resort in the Bandar Cassia, Batu Kawan, Penang.

Any local or international companies with minimum paid up capital of RM 5 million and with accumulated profit for the last 5 years that are interested in this application are invited to purchase the RFP worth RM2,000.00 (non refundable) which is available during office hours at the following address:-

Bahagian Perancangan Fizikal dan Pengurusan Tanah
PERBADANAN PEMBANGUNAN PULAU PINANG
Bangunan Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu
No. 1, Pesiaran Mahsuri
Bandar Bayan Baru
11909 Bayan Lepas
Pulau Pinang

The closing date for this RFP is on 31st October 2013 before 12 noon, in the office of :-

Bahagian Khidmat Pengurusan
PERBADANAN PEMBANGUNAN PULAU PINANG
Bangunan Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu
No. 1, Pesiaran Mahsuri
Bandar Bayan Baru
11909 Bayan Lepas
Pulau Pinang

Advertisement Date: 14 August 2013

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DNP Lovcer

We love LGE so much ! We dont think is suffering to Penagites !This is development and is time for Batu Kawan there! Main land should good to have very establish tourism place for investor ! Mainland/Island economic is very depending on local source, but not from others investors ! We should look wider and longer plan !

jade

This white elephant project that does not help rakyat will be approved …. PeeR will lose GE2018 since they already behaving like BeeN after 5 years in power. … Con the Rakyat with some freebie eg.RM100 for senior citizen, RM200 for children education. but approved mega project … (still can bluff the rakyat at early stage). The socalled Dictator Chief Minister which cannot run the state proper ly and distracted by own party mess created by himself must step immediately. Rakyat do not need another dictator … A more capable leader must be appointed to take care rakyat. Rakyat will… Read more »

Dr Chin Tu Lan

If we want to compete with hong kong and singapore as a tourist attraction , we need the theme park as these both destination has the theme parks. These days for a family holiday for the well to do families, they would need to include the theme park as part of the itinerary. If not the children would not consider making a trip to the destination. If penang needs to attract quality tourists we need to have this infrastructure. A good international golf course is also required if we want to attract business tourist for business conventions. With so many… Read more »

Don Anamalai

There is always a price to pay if Penang intends to be an International City as Dr Chin has described. This has not gone down well with many old timers as seen in this blog reminiscing the good old days when the reality of Barang Naik has not set in, and their frustration in the area of affordability given the shrinking value of our Ringgit. One may argue that Penang has long been neglected by BN and my Singaporean friend (formerly a Penangites) once told me ‘Time Stood Still’ in Penang. The accelerated growth and development under the Pakatan government… Read more »

Priyanka

May be tunglang club members can visualise and create Android or iOS APPS of “Penang Traditioonal Steet Theme Park Games” featuring ori-maestro arts/ foods where the gamers can gain actual tokens to come over to Penang island to enjoy the food at special rate (not RM4 a plate but may discounted at RM0.40 of 50s & 60s menu prices) ?

tunglang

Priyanka, the Ori-Maestros are already hard-pressed to sell affordable but still same-sized heavenly street hawker food to regular Tham Chiak Kuis in an environment of property-led inflationary frenzies. To ask for discounts is almost unimaginable, much less with a state gomen push for Cosmopolitan Penang for the rich & famous lifestyles that leads to everything expensive. And to add salt to wounds, no recognition whatsoever to Ori-Maestros in the form of a Street Food Museum (maybe a slippery-clean HongKee master chefs Museum is AOK in their minds of global connectivity & food mix+match). There were more creative marketing options leading… Read more »

Tigerz67

Anil, the escape park is actually quite environmentally friendly, and encourages outdoor activities. I would describe it as a eco-themed park. The prices are high, because the investment is quite high. But still cheaper than say a water theme park in Sunway lagoon (which is less environmentally friendly and they torture animals over there). Most people avoid escape because the games are too hard and physically demanding.

Theme parks (really good ones) will definitely provide a lot of jobs and will attract thousands of visitors.

Rashid

Yes, we want a theme park in Penang for the average rakyat to enjoy without having to go overseas.

Swee Huat

Escape is not a theme park, it is an adventure park.

Island Joe

I think we should look at ourselves and what we do with our leisure time. We’re all caught up in hyper consumerism so much so we’re looking at theme parks and shopping centres to provide us entertainment. If we’re doing that often, then of course we’re at the mercy of the cost. No one even in developed countries can go to a theme park more than a couple of times a year at the most. For me, Penang has a lot there for us to enjoy practically for free. Quite a few people are waking up as we now see… Read more »

tunglang

Pg state gomen is dying desperately to emulate HK, SingLand & other ‘showcases of global cosmopolitans’ on a level of consumeristic lifestyle & home ownership of a developed nation which the people of a 20yrs-stagnant economy can ill-afford yet. With these showcases, they can with false pride shout out loud to the world & other Malaysian states that they are examples to be followed & can arrogantly thumb down on BN & the Feds. What they missed the point of being a state gomen is to serve the needs of majority FIRST who voted them in faith & risk, &… Read more »

Don Anamalai

I agreed Island Joe. Unfortunately the GenY of iPhone followers will never agree with you.
They seek excitement and new thrills. For now affordability is not issue to them with easy credit access and low interest rate.

Penang has got its Botanical Garden, just ask the turnout there.

Yang

Tunglang, don`t worry, nowadays developer are all loaded until those in the 70s – early 90s. That is why they are controlling the market snuffing out all small contrators. Anyway you will also be afraid of small contractors lest the project become abandon.

Angry Tokong

Tunglang, you must worry. Nowadays developers are all loaded but charge at the richman’s price. That is why they control the market and that CAT meowing in that Komtar Tower.

Limpehkong

Penang certainly need a theme park as my family cannot afford to go to JB Legoland or Singapore Universal Studio.

Hooi Guan

No entertainment now is considered cheap. Even watching a movie is very expensive.
Having a theme park in Penang (at least in Butterworth) is a good thing as it is already impossible for average Malaysian family to travel to JB or Singapore for LEGOLAND and Universal Studio, let alone overseas trip. A theme park in Butterworth will be a cheaper alternative of entertainment for Northern folks who cannot afford to travel far for family vacation.

Phyllis

What are the available affordable entertainment in Penang?

Watching pirated DVDs (now blue-ray) at home is one way to counter the high cost of watching movies in the cinema? This is the options taken by rural folks who have limited access to cinema halls.

Island Joe

I’m not so sure this is a bad idea. But the execution will be what determines its success. And what we’ve seen in Malaysia, execution of these ideas are poor. Look at Genting Highlands (or even Genting Resorts World Sentosa Island) vs. Sands Marina Bay 2 points here: 1) Utilising the land to reduce the population load on the island Part of the problem of land scarcity in Penang can be alleviated by enticing people to look towards the mainland as a viable option to live. If for example (albeit an extreme example), a top class operator like Disney or… Read more »

tunglang

Are golf courses or theme parks the only deadpan options for economic development & job creations? What about doing something that links directly to Penang’s unique tourism? 1) Heritage town with architectural designs & street signage & names reflecting / mirroring the ones on the island. Old world charm kopitiams instead of unhealthy fast food centres. (This may help overcome the emotional, psychological stressed-feeling of loss from migrating to the mainland). A Goh Pha Teng complete with a roundabout & Craven A Cafe will be great. Architect Jimmy Lim may love this idea instead of tearing down Komtar Tower of… Read more »

Yang

Anil, In fact food prices on the mainland is not cheap anymore. It is higher than Penang in many areas. Yes prices of houses are now more expensive in mainland but still cheaper than in Penang island and still affordable if you chose the location. New houses by developers is going for almost 500k+++, no more 100 – 200k unless you look for older houses in less preferred areas.. Even apartment now start from 200k onward but the areas is slightly much bigger. In Penang island new apartment and landed property are completely out of reach even to the middle… Read more »

tunglang

Rm500K-Rm700K for apartments, Rm1+ million for high end condos. These were unheard as recent as of 3 years ago. Don’t tell us suddenly the salaries of Indon workers get doubled, material costs get tripled & transport cost constitutes a large portion of overall cost of building so much so a 10% hike in petrol will cause a 10% hike in new home prices. In fact, this is broad daylight robbery no different to the daylight ‘rape’ of Bukit Relau & Tanjung Bungah. There’s a developer trying to sell Rm million bungalows near my place of work. The response was so… Read more »

Yang

Anil, I think you are wrong. During public holidays many mainlander especially those from Seberang Perai, Kedah and Perak come over to Penang to sight seeing and relax. Just go to the attraction areas like Kek Lok See, Penang Hill and Gurney Drive you will notice how these small traders are doing a roaring business. On these days you will see a lot of vehicle with other states plates no. The second bridge and even the 3rd bridge will draw even more tourist here. One good thing will lead to another. More cars and traffic congestion.

Island Joe

You could be right there Anil, and it may not be as much as I think. But I meant in addition to the mainland traffic coming onto the island, visitors to Penang normally bypass the mainland. I was trying to make the point that the mainland has not been planned out well. If there was a proper plan in place, they could entice people to consider living there and also provide reasons for why visitors would consider staying on the mainland. Do I think a theme park is the answer? No. Not if planned in isolation. There needs to be… Read more »

Yang

I certainly don`t object to the theme park and golf course if it is in Batu Kawan. At least it provide a breathing open space of greenery and bring in a mixed development of factories, houses and recreation. Those who object please go over to Batu Kawan first and then make your comments and I believe you will change your mind. After that go to the nearby Tambun areas famous for seafood restaurants.

tunglang

The rich & famous take over the island. The poor & soon-to-be-poor middle class economically forced to migrate to the mainland (Batu Kawan Reservations not unlike the Indian Reservations of US). Do you think they can enjoy a swing in the Bing Chui golf course (don’t have to think about affordability of entry fee before stepping on expensive grass) or a binge of seafood during weekends (don’t forget the ++ GST, inflated price of seafood, petrol & downshifting of lifestyle just to survive). Much less to enjoy life for those who have to commute to work in Penang Island where… Read more »

tunglang

Either way, staying in Penang Island or migrating (of the New Century Migration) to the mainland ‘Reservation’ is a lose-lose situation. That’s the CHANGE we unwittingly bargained for with an entity that dreams of a different set of development far from the hearts & minds of Penangites.

Yang

First of all Batu Kawan is now like a waste land. Go and see it and comprehend what it will be if is not to be developed. It will have to rival Kulim as an industrial and hi-tech zone. Now for a start low and low medium cost houses are being built. The roads and leading to the bridges will become an industrial zone with houses, homes and shop to be developed. Couple with a theme park and golf course, Batu Kawan will soon be value for money just like Auto City and surrounding areas. The main aim is to… Read more »

Batu Ferringhian

Yes..and let’s not forget Cinta Sayang in Sungai Petani

Tigerz67

Anil, there need to be good mixture of the type of land development. Land for a place to stay and also to provide jobs for the people who live there. The other thing is, I believe the era of cheap manufacturing location is almost over. Vietnam and Myanmar will be the next hotspots. Moving up the value chain in terms of RnD is not really making any headway. This is because out talent are being attracted to Singapore and elsewhere because they pay better. We have squandered those honeymoon years and did not use them to create enough local high… Read more »

tunglang

The problem with Cosmopolitan Global City thinking is the high dependency on foreign talents (dubious ones never mind as long as they looked global), foreign capitals, culture vultures (local street food can be mix+match karaoke style), opportunistic capital in-flow, opening up of local banking system (Bank Negara > Open Society Bank Global), prices of local goods & services tagged to global fluctuations, & salaries non-negotiable by head honchos of MNCs (e.g. global fast food joints). In the longer run, culture+economy+social integrity+financial wealth is in the hands of the powerful few 1% who has no allegiance to any country. It is… Read more »

tunglang

Here’s what the venerable Pope has to say about our globalised pursuit: Pope attacks global economics for worshipping ‘god of money’ “It is not a problem of Italy and Europe … It is the consequence of a world choice, of an economic system that brings about this tragedy, an economic system that has at its centre an idol which is called money,” he said to the cheers of the crowd. “We don’t want this globalised economic system which does us so much harm. Men and women have to be at the centre (of an economic system) as God wants, not… Read more »

Kevin

You are right Anil. PDCs job is first and foremost to protect the interest of Penangites. If it has 470 acres of land, it should develop it into a park for all to relax and exercise in. It can be like a Central Park for Batu Kawan. Btw, the Central Park in land scarce New York City is over 1000 acres smack in the city. Instead of building golf courses which cannot provide employment, does not have a multiplier effect on the economy and does nothing to enhance the quality of life of Penangites, especially in the mainland, they should… Read more »

Dr Chin Tu Lan

If Penang wants to develop its tourism industry.. The golf course and theme park is a necessity. Tourism one of the key industry in penang. We dont have good quality golf courses and a good theme park to attract tourist. Batam golf course is international rated course.

Aminah Sobri

I asked my chinese friend what is “bin chui”. The lady told me is “having face” like “gaya mesti ada”.

No wonder domestic debt is increasing……

tunglang

And for a state gomen to adopt a Bing Chui approach to state development, I am sorry for my next generation who may or may not live in Penang. It’s like a father figure who cannot control his fantasy urges to spend for his own superficial ‘face values’ (political porfolio) in keeping up with the Joneses (SingLand?) that don’t create economic values for his entire family (the masses). Don’t talk about a wealthy family (SingLand) but an average one (Penang) that is scrapping by from month to month. This is the case for majority of Penangites who are looking for… Read more »

Club41 Oon

Like it or not, most foreign investors usually conclude their investment deals on when putting on golf courses. If Penang dos not have a good golf course to please these investors, then it will lose out on foreign investment deals, forgoing jobs for Penangites.
I am not a golf fan, but we must look at this issue from different perspective, although golf is a rich man game and for the masses.

Ravi Vijaya

Anil, there’s also the 18 hole golf course at the Bukit Jambul Country Club on the island. The state government keeps harping about land scarcity (when it suits them i.e. STP1 & 2 etc) but keeps approving land consuming and social and environmentally unfriendly projects such as these instead of housing and greenery for the masses, especially the low and middle income groups. I’m sick of the hypocritical political doublespeak and corporate friendly policies and priorities of the state government.

Yang

Anil, the one near the RMAF base is Bertam and the other one is in Jawi. In Penang island there is only one left in Bukit Jambul. Formerly there is another one in Sungai Ara which is the Pearl Golf and Country Club and it has since closed down and now filled with development of condo, flats and shop houses. No more serene as it use to be.

Angry Tokong

Who approved these space wasting and gaya style development?
It’s anybody’s guess but I 99.916% sure it was the everyday-disembayang Tokong at Komtar Tower.
Penang is fully reserved for the richmen more than for average Penanglang. Seberang Penang is soon to be another richmen’s playground so all those who cannot catch up will disappear like endangered species, no thanks to a Tokong so arrogant & indifferent to Penanglang’s real need but his own political agenda. What a Bluffer.

Batu Ferringhian

It’s no secret that the state government’s priority is money. can’t find fault with that really but they should rethink their methods. yes, they are all for immediate-short term results as they feel that they have only 5 years to “show” what sort of progress they’ve made. 5 years is too short, hence, any sort of long tern benefits or solutions have been pushed back. golf courses do not serve your average malaysian. they actually destroy the environment – i agree with tunglang. theme parks on the other day, require a lot of maintainence. ideally, building a public park would… Read more »

tunglang

If you build more low-cost & affordable homes, If you plan better use of scarce land (for people’s needs more important than commercialized values), If you don’t always complain (abt trickling Fed’s money or past ostrich’s mistakes) but do more proactive things now beyond pointing accusing fingers at Fed’s straitjacketing, If you truly care for the already suffering environment esp. the botak-ed hills & not billboard lips service: Greener, Cleaner Penang, If you think beyond “No Money, No Talk” helplessness of self-excuses but work strategically for a win-win solution with both investors & ideas creators for the benefits of Penangites… Read more »

WengLeng

The Golf Course favours only a tiny fraction of the population, obviously denying the much needed space for economic activies or recreation for the rest of the people.

How many of us have repeated visits to the Theme Park within a year? Surely, they appeared monumental and exhibit colourful flair. On top of that, the entry tickets to such place would not be cheap. Again denying the people much needed parks or greens, in LAND SCARSE PENANG.

BN sickness is seeping in when rakyats allow pakatan 2nd term. Be SENSIBLE !!!

Gerakan K

Time for us to cry-out-loud !!! Before there was tiger park and now Disneyland ??? And any golf resort plan is ABSOLUTELY CRAZY in Penang.

tunglang

How many golf courses truly make a decent profit (in the longer run) in Penang? Especially since the Japanese execs are less coming post death of Look East policy & golfing is too expensive & less trendy than social Facebook-ing.
And golf courses are not environment friendly but use a lot of labor, scarce unpolluted water, land space & are not accessible like a public park to any Penangite.
This state planning or Cosmopolitan dreaming (now in mainland Penang) is worse than ostrich-thinking in a putting hole of a class above all Boh Bing Chui needs & wants.

marie chee

You are right tunglang..the penang govt should focus on public transport and infra structure than making our beloved island into a concrete jungle of expensive condos for the outsiders. Penang is the Pearl of the Orient…georgetown is the first city and penangites are special. Retain the heritage and pre war buildings, rich in history. ” Mein ainah ai bing, si liao lui bei gai kee.

tunglang

” Mein ainah ai bing, si liao lui bei gai kee.”
Some personas who are worshipped tower-high 24/7/365+1 (that’s for a leap year) believe in eternity of their ego-boosting into the here-after. So the matter of Ai Bing Chui are matters of self-preservation more lasting than mummification (of the Egyptians) & more important than societal’s welfare & happiness of you & me.
Note: Do you know that the salty & blackish mud @ slippery high society Gurney Drive can be used as dead body embalmment ingredients for preservation of Bing Chui?

tunglang

” Mein ainah ai bing, si liao lui bei gai kee.” It means: what’s the point of acquiring plentiful of show-off (to the Joneses) when the day you die you cannot bring them with you to the next world. Another dig here: Bing Chui Pok Pok, Tua Tua Teh Boh Bing Chui Bing Phoi Kau Kau, Say Say Tay! Face value is a ‘thin-sheet’ i.e. highly valued & protected to the point of the more extravagant & publicly seen, the better. Where else, those with no face value must be thick-faced (unashamed), strong heart to the point of nothing to… Read more »

Plain Truth

Well, let’s look at the positive side. There will be a place for play and for gainful employment for the residents of the 11,400 affordable homes that the state government is going to build.

With a more developed mainland and its spin-offs, hopefully we won’t see so many cars flooding into the island.

Priyanka

Dear Anil
Your blog responses are the voices of the rakyat (for example, tunglang’s rantings represent many frustrations of ‘traditional’ penangites). Don’t need to hold this forum that forum. The lamenting juices are all here for the CAT government to take note of and follow-up with actions.

antt

How about we all don’t build anything and live in the caves and bath in the rivers. We ban all cars in the island and everyone cycles to work.. if there are still jobs around, maybe just maybe the greenies should led by example by not using home appliances eg aircond or drive cars around , pollution is bad for the environment.