Old Penang: Prangin Canal (updated)


Update: In the 1940s, boats used to carry cargo all the way from the sea-front all the way along Prangin Canal, which was once a river, passing by Capitol Cinema (demolished to make way for Komtar) until the junction of Transfer Road.

Back in the 19th century, George Town only reached up to Prangin Canal, and that’s why the old market area near the canal was called Sia Boey (end of the town). More history of Prangin Canal on the Travel Tips website.

31 March 2011:

Now that there are plans to revitalise the Prangin Canal area in Penang, those responsible should proceed very carefully with what they do, bearing in mind that the surrounding area is swampy ground.

Prangin Canal - Photo credit: teochiewkia2010.blogspot.com

If the history of the construction of the canal is researched using both the physical evidence today and historical data, then we would better understand the swampy ground in the area, and the nature and purpose of the canal. Prangin Canal is part of an intricate drainage system designed in the 1860s to 1890s. It must be fully understood before it is fiddled with.

Don’t forget what a nightmare it was for Prangin Mall and 300 surrounding houses during the construction of the complex.

To keep the canal clean, we would need to ensure that drain water is treated before it is discharged into the waterway.

George Town Local Plan: Still waiting

Meanwhile, from what I hear, the team writing the Special Area Plan for the heritage zone is more or less the same team engaged to write the George Town Local Plan 15 years ago.

We are still waiting for the green light for the George Town Local Plan – but it would now need to be revised as it would be out of date.

In January, the MPPP also announced that a special heritage task force would be set up to monitor the heritage zone. It would be good to know what has happened to it and who is supposed to be in this task force.

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Super Senior

Penang should not follow the $-wasting effort by Johor to cover up the JB’s Segget Canal 10 years ago, only to reopen it again.


I think they should expand it and make it a Riverwalk like the one in Melaka.Tourists and locals are gonna be thrilled.

Madras Lane In-Laws

Prangin Canal is an eyesore for too many years ! The market structure is now a carpark ! State Government if owns that piece of land next to canal better turn it into People’s Park for old heritage folks like us to have evening walk in the green. I don’t expect canal can be cleaned up if you look at the time, money and effort to poluted Sungai Pinang yet no significant results to date to be proud of. If you go to China big city or small town, they have beautiful and simple gardens but in Malaysia this is… Read more »


Talking about open spaces and greens, in the 60’s in Macalister Road junction with Penang Road (Goh Pha Teng), there was a huge roundabout. The inside was filled with evergreen grass which was well maintained and the outer ring was circled with an iron chain to protect the greenery. The night ambience was lit by a ball-shaped lamp on top of a centre column much like the Trafalgar Square’s Lord Nelson’s column but this one was only about 8 feet high. In the cool evening, I used to safely play inside the roundabout, catching grasshoppers and sometimes toads. My dad… Read more »

Roy Yong

Forget about a cosy evening stroll in Penang.

Nowadays the new generation only drives cars, and no longer walk. Another sad outcome of our nation’s poor National Automobile Policy that promotes (proton) car ownership.

That’s why the policy makers are not keen to provide pedestrain friendly walkway in the Penang City.

That’s why many will continue to reminiscent the good old days like tunglang, trying to recapture the past that is erased during the decades of poor BN administration.


At least it stays fresh in my mind for personal consumption. And having experienced the good old world charm days of Penang is an invaluable gift not many can vouch to have had in their lifetime.
BTW, sharing them is not a selfish virtue.
Also, BTW, have you heard of alternative dimension? Occasionally I have had the fortune of ‘traveling back’ in time to ‘see’ the ‘alternative realities’ of old Penang in my nostalgic sweet dreams.


Do you have a ‘special gift’ like a temple medium who can ‘travel back in time’ for experience?

Then travel back to MACC office to tell what really happen to TBH while those MACC flers were surfing porn.


Alternative reality may not accepted as reliable evidence than choking one’s own throat in the court of jesters.


So for the time being, imagine my verbal stories just like in the good old days of the imaginative radio before the advent of the stupid box TVs and too distracting multimedia computers.

Andrew I

And Gerakan K, with his eggs box 360.


In the olden days, nothing was too much of an addiction unlike today’s video games. Many leisure outlets and implements were either self improvised, created or borrowed from friends. No such leisure things as idolized to the exclusion of friends or houseworks (FYI, kids of the 60’s & 70’s had to run errants, sometimes to buy 4-ekor from kopitiam for dad or skin the chicken for meals). Today’s pampered or over-protected kids and even toy addict rich adults treat themselves with these expensive digital fanfasies shut out from the real world. That’s why we bump into people like these who… Read more »

kamsari jais

Video games (PS3, Wii & X-box) are taking away the reading habits from our children. It is causing great damage to our future.

The young facebook generation today has a very poor command of language, especially english language. The kind of english used in Facebook is deplorable. No thanks to constant playing of video games.


Anil Borrow your site to publicise this event where voter registration will be conducted as well. —————————————————————————– Rock 4 Rights Music Carnival Date: 2nd April 2011 (Saturday) Time: 12pm to 12am Venue: Inside Fort Cornwallis Fees: Free of Charge “Rock 4 Rights” is a 12–hour non-stop concert and carnival organised by the BCCLC in partnership with Frinjan and Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM) and supported by Yes. Malaysiakini is the official online media partner for this event. The event is also endorsed by the Penang State Government. This one-of-a-kind initiative will start from 12pm until12am. A total of 18 bands… Read more »


Hi Anil

We should lighten up on April Fool’s Day.

So check out “Anilnetto.com at http://anilnetto.com/ is read by people who wish trams, funicular railway and ferries ran the country” on ‘Yes, PM! You’d Be Shocked, Amazed At Who Reads The MSM and Blogs’ at:


Thanks in advance for the free publicity.

we are all of 1 Race, the Human race


As a small boy, I used to jump into the flooded drain in Macalister Road during December rainy seasons. As my father’s shop was ‘facilitated’ with this ready ‘swimming pool’, cooling effect natural waterway cum eco-waste disposal stream, why not use it for my joyful adventure? I could swim the 30 feet length of flooded drain till Craven A free of charge.
FYI, those early 60’s Macalister Road drains were clean river water during flooding. And occasionally, you get free fishes jumping out of the water or swimming into your flooded homes.

Andrew I

Again Tunglang, you should think about writing a book about Penang’s past, seriously.


I just can’t get them out of my mind as if they just happened yesterday. It seems Anil’s blog just awaken my past sleeping spirits of the 60’s and 70’s happy days in Macalister Road and Madras Lane.
I just smelled the rain and the drain of December 1965. And trying to salvage my floating Japanese slippers from the clear rising flood waters. Is there a spiritual connection?


tunglang is a smark guy. he is using Anil blog to gain free publicity before launching his book. Book royalty is important for him to regain the trust of his in-laws.

Anil should run a poll to gauge if readers will buy a book by tunglang on Penang’s past and street food.


No such ideas in my mind until somebody suggested I write books. I have this intense desire to share my nostalgic past of unforgettable (better) times to show whoever is trusted the tasks of preserving our heritage to be more caring of Penang’s unique heritage before it is wipe out from oblivion.
I may share the past experiences thro’ visual arts like photography and paintings when I’m financially ready to undertake the tasks.

Andrew I

Whatever you want to do, I’m sure it will be successful. Looking forward to it. 🙂

kamsari jais

Andrew I and tunglang can collaborate on the book project?

Anil please assist.

Andrew I

I’m sure tunglang is quite capable of handling a semi-autobiography by himself. If he does ask for some help, perhaps Anil could edit and I could be the one giving the rave reviews. 🙂


nevwr sit on your passionate ideas for too long otherwise it’s just dust in the wind (like penang street food museum concept) which i hope tunglang can avoid.
all the best.
capturePenang can colaborate with tunglang on memorable photos past n present; while Zunar can help to edit tunglang’s cartoon/sketches ????


Please learn from the Johor experience spending millions of ringgit of ‘putting a lid’ ontop of Segget Canal along Jalan Wong Ah Fook in the JB city centre. It is just an attempt to mask the smelly water but the rats are manifesting underneath in great number. Now the City council is planning the remove the lid and turn it into a waterway for tourists. Truly malaysia boleh.


It is wrong to cover up dirt and rubbish.
The correct way is to get rid of them through eradication at source together with proper maintenance.

It is also how corruption should be tackled in this country.


Hasri is right, the stench of Sungai Segget is a hallmark of JB centre along Jln Wong Ah Fook. Surprisingly, there used to be an open-air hawker stalls next to the Indian temple by the Segget canal. That’s the street food of JB where food aroma and canal stench do mix in the atmosphere. You will see sewel rat as big as a cat there. Penang should learn from JB. here is an extract from a report from The Star last year: http://thestar.com.my/metro/story.asp?file=/2010/5/31/southneast/6368055&sec=southneast “JB has transformation plan that includes the cleaning up of Sungai Segget. While it is an interesting… Read more »

Raj Kumar

I trust tht Penang can do a better job thn Johor.

Afterall, JohorCorp has lost so much money that it has to sell its key assets in KFC and Kulim (although Perkasa is deadly against it) to pay its rising debt.


Well at least they have realised their mistake in covering up the river and now intend to rectify that mistake. That to me is a good move. The river can be cleaned and rejuvenated into a vibrant waterfront. There is no need to turn it into a road. Likewise, prangin canal can be converted into a larger, cleaner and friendlier waterway. It need not be used as a drain or sewage line that flows to the sea. Where there is a will, there is a way. Not to mention, PDC has the money.


The area has been reclaimed more than 100 years so there is no cause for alarm unless the building has been built to sub standard. Unlike previously when reclaimed land will have to be planted with trees and left idle for a number of years before any construction, now you don’t.with the latest technology. One example is along the highway near the bridge. The land has not even been reclaimed with construction already started and it is now more than 10 stories high.


I only see a longkang. What can be so difficult?

Pinang Boy

Usually the simple thing is one that can cause the most money to end up you-know-where.

MACC will not investigate because its officers had hangover after long hours surfing for porn in the office (deemed legal by the boss) after working hours late in the night.

Andrew I

Work hard and play hard…literally.


Longkang is nothing wrong as long as there are fish life in it. In past, it is a stream and there is no definite boundary and changes it course when it rains. Due to urbanisation, banks are built to define it course but fishes find no place to stay as they cannot create homes into the concrete. Further the water is getting more and more polluted as everyone treat them like (sewer) pipe. Main thing is to turn Prangin Canal into greenry landscape base on expereince in Soeul, Singapore and the moat beside the Beijing Grand Palace and not the… Read more »


You don’t have to go so far. Malacca has an impressive riverfront. Its river and banks are well maintained and unobstructed (unlike our walkways where goods, stalls and cars are parked on top). If they can do it, why can’t pg? Prangin canal is so short and small compared to Malacca’s riverfront of several kilometers (which is still expanding). It may be a BN state but let’s give credit where it is due and learn from what is good in all cities. The lighting at night is magnificent and their river cruise is full every night. I am sure LGE… Read more »


I think they should dig the canal deeper,double the size and uncover all the waterways that’ve been covered for years.It doesn’t have to be as long as the Malacca River,but just enough for water activities to attract tourists and locals alike.