Malls and sustainable development


Still on the topic of the proliferation of malls, blog reader L sent in this reflection:

When it comes to the free market, too many malls or not or whether they will flourish or become an eyesore in the future is not the big issue. But there are questions about the social impact and environmental impact these malls exert on the people: are we expecting an even more materialistic society in the future?

Indeed I agree that people have nowhere else to go during weekends except shopping malls; that’s because there is a lack of public space for the people for social gatherings. Is there much open space in Balik Pulau, or Batu Maung, the sites for more malls/plazas? When there is a lack of choices, people tend to get accustomed to the limited choices available. See how the people from other countries value their open spaces.

When a building is built, consider the material used for the construction – tons of concrete and steel. So when the business fails, is it going to be the developer’s own business but not ours? We are living in an era of environmental crisis here, and do you think having such a ‘mall boom’ is a sign of sustainable development? Please, look at the bigger picture.

Food prices are soaring, and we have less and less land for agriculture in exchange for commercial and industrial use as a sign of “economic development”. If you think this post is being radical, think again.

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Steven Lee

Singapore-based CapitaMalls is acquiring Kuantan Mall for RM310 million.

Kuantan folks can soon enjoy good quality mall management from Singapore expertise, just like Penang’s Gurney Plaza and JB’s City Square.


I agree that public space is insufficient in Pg. However, I don’t agree that land which is a premium (both in island and mainland to be used for agricultural purpose). Pg is too urbanized for agriculture, even though food prices may be soaring. for agriculture & rearing of livestocks, large plots of arable land is necessary which Pg does not hv. In terms of livability as a city, Pg is still very far behind other developed cities in having public goods like follows Parks for green lungs is good, but why just stop there. we need also – Libraries –… Read more »


“My Penang, My Concrete Jungle”

Gerakan K

You have been warned before. Development above people.


Properties in Penang are in high demand after the Pakatan government took over. Investors and migrants must be having high confidence in the government of LGE.


You all will be surprised why an advertising man would vouch for simplicity lifestyle of back to basics and nature. I for one has lived the frenzy, competitive kiasu, brain-drained-of-commonsenses, super-focused ad careerism in order to live the materialistic ego-high of me-first, have-now culture of never fully satisfied soul, body and spirit. It had been the frenzy-dizzy threading of the rat race thread mill since day one of my prove-it-myself or die competitive advertising career. Products, services and make believe perceptionism of brands to suit consumers with empty souls have passed my sight and moulding of ‘positioning’ against my conscious… Read more »

Nature Lover

tunglang now we know you are (or was ?) in advertising field. My friend who knew you told me you once worked at Motorola (at bayan lepas FTZ) – don’t know how true. if you read KwangHwa paper today, a British lady was robbed twice and decided to leave Penang for good ! link & pics : so for those who are like tunglang and me (i am just in 30’s however but i have retired after sweating it out in the capitalist world) who love nature over concrete jungle mall, do take a drive out to mainland to… Read more »


Talking about mainland besides the Hulu Perak/ Belum sanctuary I would like to retire in bliss, the places after Kulim Hitech Park are also green lungs and retreats for the adventurous spirits. Places on the way to Sedim, Mahang and any further interiors are a world of pristine difference from Penang urbanised culture. If one is not very particular about non access to shopping, urban facilities or Astro or even the www, then you are in good company. I would love to have like minded nature loving species living in a community of homesteading, self sufficiency and adventures. Since the… Read more »

Nature Lover

tunglang, you are spot on. Nowadays in “hulu” area these “happenings” features are common already : a) Astro except rainy day like in urban area. b) Internet – 4G pun boleh these days except that the services like in urban area still below standard compared to Bangkok or Spore. We still can reach out to Anil’s readers and watch youtube (by the way Lady GaGa is creative and marketing guy like you should admit she has created a storm – whole album download only US$0.99 – way cheaper than a track of Isabella sold by maxis for RM3 !) c)… Read more »


But a few wonders in rainforest or Ulu wilderness you ain’t get in metrosexualized urban conjungle: 1) Ice cold water in pristine river that can cure a high fever in minutes or cool your Tiger Beer. 2) Free bananas to ‘Yat Chiew’ you loneliness in no man’s land. 3) Gaze heaven (without blinking for hours) with million stars and shooting stars in clear starry-starry night. No need Starry-Eyed Bucks, but just plain oldie Penang Rd Kopi-O kau-kau to keep one awake till the first light of morning star. 4) Free ambience music by Nature’s Philharmonic Orchestra led by Malaysian Langsuir… Read more »


Why blame materialism when the real problem is all about urban design and planning? People loved to own cheap landed properties, but land is non-renewable resources. But when come to high density urban development, people love to view it as “concrete jungle”, some even try to highlight “oh, it used tons of concrete and steel”. However, scientific research show well planned high density urban area are more energy efficient than low density town. Like it or not, facilities utilisation are better utilised in high density residency. E.g. per population utilities piping are shorter compare to landed properties, travelling distance are… Read more »


BN cannot emulate the key success factors of Singapore because it does not practice transparency, corruption-free and meritocracy. Simple as that.

Economists perceive the Najib administration as prone to backtracking on policies, with political concerns trumping the need for economic reform. The BN government’s dithering over subsidy cuts for energy and basic consumer goods was criticised by regional economists who are stirring a wider debate over the country’s long-term economic prospects.


Many readers tend to forget that Seberang Prai is part of Penang.

Every individual has an option.

For those who cannot cope with high property price in the island of Penang, or are longing for ‘sustainable development’ in a peaceful kampung setting lifestyle away from the glitz of shopping mall, they can choose to live in Seberang Prai to enjoy lower cost of living to stretch their retirement ringgit, without losing your proud status as a Penangite.


Jimmy, can you suggest good ‘sanctuary’ places to live and homesteading near the rainforest like that of Gunung Jerai? Most Penangites islanders have no ideas of heavenly places on mainland to start anew in simplicity living of freedom. I personally would love to live among Malays in kampongs as they are more simple minded and neighborly caring. And lands are open for humans and spirits to move around among neighborhood. Who need a fenced up community with Gurkha guards, Alsatian dogs and CCTV every foot of the fencing? I am still planning to relocate to Hulu Perak near Belum to… Read more »


“Every individual has an option”
I know this! This is the ‘you tak suka …’ option, isn’t it?


Only Penang voters will be allowed to buy units at a huge low- and medium-cost and affordable housing project to be built by the Penang Development Corporation (PDC).

The corporation has allocated a 60.7ha site in Batu Kawan on the mainland for the project, which will comprise high-rise units.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the state government was imposing this requirement to ensure that only Penangites benefited from the project.

“The units will be priced at between RM72,500 and RM220,000.


Malls look glamorous and inviting… spending places when times are good. Also, a “recreation rat holes” for students and delinquents to engage in unhealthy activities. When a nation is faced with financial difficulties, these malls become a sore eye and white elephants!…with tenants disappearing as fast as they came in when newly opened.
Free world, free enterprises do not mean free rides!…this is what commercially termed as window dressing of false growth.


Think about our way of living and start checking our own lives instead of following fleeting trends and mindless fevers of materialistic Gagas. You own your own precious life, not to be pawned to the zombie walks of shopping malls or iPad or iPhone fashion-addict statement. Lifestyle: Live within your means, have sensible desires not influenced by covetousness of others’ haves and show offs, check/control your impulse shopping habits (even if it means cutting up your credit cards), live basic and simple. Having more and more is always not enough. Which means having to work feverishly for more money to… Read more »


Good pointers but I think the Generation Y (unlike our good old tunglang) has yet to accumulate the necessary wisdom in their head to appreciate them in the era of instant gratification with the strong influence of consumerism.


I like shopping malls because there is no risk of being trampled by a running horse, or get infected by leptospirosis bateria.


You are right tunglang. But Malaysian (not just Penang people) have develop bad habits of driving.
And those recreation place you mentioned, has limited parking compare to shopping malls, and the local government has no intention to promote cycling cultures. After all, those local government staff only answerable to federal government, those bureaucrats have little interest in improving local resident lifestyle.


My suggestion is: Take Rapid Buses to these places.
Moreover, one can also enjoy the slow ride and sceneries on the way. Why be so stressed up driving defensively and always on the watch out for MyVi or Kenari hell drivers cutting on the left?
Do it and time will slow down especially for you to enjoy life to the hilt!


Although I agree with your point, but most motorist will say otherwise. If I suggest imposing heavy parking fees and reduce parking space of such area, build facilities for bicycle parking, motorist will complain it is not safe to rid bicycle, it is too hot, bus take too long,etc. Even some place you mentioned just 4-5km away from where they stay. Oh, I also love to see municipal councils allow mobile stores in these area, draft proper rules and make sure business keep the area clean and tidy, rather than banning hawker. Also well maintain paid toilet that under proper… Read more »


We should promote public bus ridership.

I am totally against the National Apanama Policy that encourages all to buy Proton, so much so that our roads are choked with cars with polluting air.

No need for parks if our environment itself is kept clean from CO dischareged from vehicles.

I also encourage those low-income people in Penang (especailly the retirees) to migrate to Prai or Kulim or Sungai Petani or Jerai to enjoy a cheaper lifestyle that can further stretch their retirement money, if they are agaisnt the mushrooming of shopping malls in the island.


tunglung, really appreciate of what you wrote. However, i think we cant expect the youngsters to do as what you have suggested… Their weekend’s life is revolving around shopping malls and eating at expensive restaurants, etc. I think this is the trend today for the youngsters. Maybe youngsters should cultivate healthy hobby for eg keeping a dog, take them out for walks and of course, please pick up their waste. Yes, visit the orphanage and the oldfolk’s home alike… As for organic gardening, tunglung, i think that is for you and me, people of age. I really do enjoy smelling… Read more »


I was once like them, wet-in-the-ears with too small an ear hole (yet allowed to go thro’ the other hole) to listen carefully and receptively without the crucial life experiences of old timers of my time. It takes putting thy hands into boiling cooking oils to taste and feel what it’s like of the golden looking (promising) yet boiling hot beneath cooking oil.


I can’t say much for Penang, as I’m a PJ-ite myself, but I agree with the sentiment that too many of my generation put their leisure time in malls and the like. Truth be told, I’m a little sick of malls, shopping centers and so on. You’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. It would be quite nice to see some walking trails, cycling paths, forest reservations open to the public, bigger, well-maintained parks, so on. Like how a lot of Western countries do. A pity we don’t have this sort of thing here, or that we have to drive… Read more »

Nature Lover

a) Teluk Bahang Forest Reserve, Pantai Kerachut, Pantai Acheh and Muka Head. ==> a heaven in Penang island — most locals sadly don’t even aware of it – good in a way as it has not be commercially exploited, Traveling Minister Ng Yen Yen prefers to promote Jimmy Choo’s shoes in Penang Malls ? Penang Hill trekking from Botanic Garden, Moon Gate Youth Park and Botanical Garden. ==> over exploited by locals alike. I heard Little Napoleon is creating horse riding (yet to approve by MPPP ?) program at Youth Park ? anyway, i skip botanic garden as many of… Read more »


Air Itam Dam has multiple treks and grade of treks. If you intend to trek to Tiger Hill, Penang Hill or Titi Kerawang, be well equipped with 2-day survival pack, a long stick (there are fierce dogs from farms) and pray, pray, pray.
I trekked alone but would advised you go in a company.
FYI, there are female forest spirits going for handsome trekker like me.

Nature Lover

I am not worried about spirits – at least they know that they must do good to have better fortunes later.
I am more scared of barang naik evils lurking around with promises that cannot be transformed into goodness for less fortunate souls ……..

We Luv Hannah T

Penang Gomen do get local famous Penangite Hannah Tan to promote the natural beauty of Penang so that the youngsters can learn to appreciate natural wonders exist outside the shopping mall !

btw, Hannah Tan is featured in current issue of FHM. I think she’s is carving out a career in Japan and as Penang ambassador she can also promote Penang in Ajinomoto Land !

i welcome readers comments.


Feringghi Boy

Rapid Penang pls get Hannah Tan as your ambassador !

Penangites will wake up to take public transport and save resources for the future – go green !