Menapolis or Megalo(mania)polis? Outlandish concrete deck island proposal for Penang

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An out-of-this-world proposal has reportedly been received from Hong Kong investors to build a 2500ha concrete deck island instead of reclaiming the Middle Bank as part of a land swap deal for the Penang Transport Master Plan.

From Middle Bank to Gazebo - Photographs: Hong Jing/Facebook
From Middle Bank to Gazumbo – Photographs: Hong Jing/Facebook

If the report is true, it looks as if the ecologically sensitive Middle Bank is being eyed as a target for land reclamation under the Master Plan (much like how reclaimed land in Tanjung Tokong is being handed over to the developer of the proposed tunnel).

Apparently, the Hong Kong investors are one of six groups that have submitted bids for the Transport Master Plan. The closing date for the bids was 16 February 2015, and a decision is expected to be made next month, with KPMG leading the evaluation of bids.

The bidders are expected not only to come up with implementation plans but also to think of how the projects will be financed, which could include land swaps and land reclamation.

A figure of RM142bn (gross development value?) was mentioned in the Edge Financial Daily for the concrete decks proposal.

This Hong Kong investors’ proposal for an “elevated water city”, along with the earlier tunnel land swap deal in Tanjong Tokong/Gurney Drive, makes me wonder if the Transport Master Plan is more about facilitating high-end property development than about promoting sustainable public transport. (Only RM10bn of the RM27bn infrastructure envisaged under the Master Plan is for public transport while the remaining RM17bn is for highways, underpasses, etc.)

Welcome to Penang, the property developers’ playground!

This report from the Edge Financial Daily:

HK investors propose concrete deck island

By Sangeetha Amarthalingam / The Edge Financial Daily | April 13, 2015 : 10:01 AM MYT

KUALA LUMPUR: Two Hong Kong investors have proposed to the Penang state government to build a concrete deck island measuring 2,500ha instead of reclaiming the Middlebank in a land swap deal for the RM27 billion Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP).

State Local Government, Traffic Management and Flood Mitigation committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow told the media last month that the 15-year PTMP would be funded via a land swap deal.

The land swap business model, involving the 607ha Middlebank land, is similar to the funding agreement with Consortium Zenith BUCG Sdn Bhd which received 110 acres (44.51ha) of land after being tasked to build the RM6.3 billion Penang Undersea Tunnel.

Requesting anonymity, the source told The Edge Financial Daily that the foreign investors have offered a private financing initiative solution to the PTMP by building a concrete island platform dubbed Menapolis (elevated water city) instead of reclaiming Middlebank to resolve fears of environmental impact.

It is believed that the 15-year five-phased Menapolis project that could house a population of 250,000 by 2030, is expected to feature electronic, electrical, industrial, commercial, residential and hospitality developments.

It would also incorporate green energy technology, health services, government offices, recreational parks, an artificial beach, as well as security and safety services, the source said.

This latest revelation adds a twist to the conditions related to the deal offered by the Penang government if it chooses to accept the concrete deck island proposal tagged at a gross development value of RM142 billion, the source said.

The source added that the cost of building the decks would, however, require cross financing and expertise, which the investors were already privy to, including that from the Dutch Hydraulics Institute (DHI).

The source said the Hong Kong investors, represented here by independent strategic adviser Datuk Dr Nik Zamri Majid, and who are also involved in property developments in China, had suggested that the offshore concrete decks be built off Gertak Sanggul near Pulau Kendi.

The source said the plan was for the appointed project delivery partner (PDP) for the PTMP to purchase the rights from the Hong Kong investors to develop the decks while earning construction and development profits profits.

The contractors are expected to earn between 20% and 25% profit from the deck development, while the state government would benefit through local and foreign investments, and upstream and downstream industrial activities, the source said.

“It is believed that the contractor would be able to earn profits from the construction of the PTMP, Menapolis, development on the decks and from the sale of the developments,” the source said.

The proposal by the Hong Kong investors is not new to Penang as it was once suggested but rejected by Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng in January 2013, said the source, adding that this would be the biggest concrete deck in the world.

Back then, a Kuala Lumpur-based company Al Cube Sdn Bhd consisting of local and Hong Kong investors proposed to build a RM75 billion “offshore concrete structure for industrial development” on stilts in Balik Pulau.

It was to feature electrical and electronic, and oil and gas industries, government offices, schools, hotels, residences, parks, and an artificial beach, and house about half a million people.

When contacted, Nik Zamri, who was also its then project consultant, declined to comment on the investors’ latest venture in Penang.

“This time, the investors who were represented by a local alliance, proposed the solution to land reclamation to the state during a PTMP briefing in Komtar on March 9.

“They admitted their inability in fulfilling the entire requirement in the PTMP (consisting of recommendations to reduce traffic congestion) but were certain they could solve the issue of land reclamation,” the source said.

The source said the investors predicted a value of RM750 per sq ft for the decks when completed. The investors believed concrete decks reduced environmental impact.

“The land value is based on land prices in Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong and Japan because of facilities that would be made available such as renewable energy and mixed development,” the source said.

However, the source said the investors were also keen on working with the PDP to build the tramway at an estimated cost of between RM850 million and RM1 billion on the island.

The source said the investors were aware that most of the bidders for the PTMP were “not very keen” on building the tramway because of the low returns.

“Thus, the investors are willing to work with the PDP to build the 19km tramway from Weld Quay to the Penang International Airport. Its local alliance is believed to have been approached by leading trams and rail manufacturers to develop it.

“They include German Siemens AG which would be using Chinese technology, and plane and train maker Canadian Bombardier Inc. The investors might seek help from French contractor Vinci Construction Grande Projets.

“The local alliance, who is said to have ample experience in this field, has spoken to the bidders to offer the investors’ services as well as the proposal to build the concrete decks.

“If the investors’ proposal is accepted, DHI will be tasked to conduct the environmental impact assessment,” the source added.

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glissantia

It is Animal Farm all over again. It happened before in Malacca, almost happened in PD, and is now happening in Johore. The rights of the public to access a beach or shore, or even to view the sea from afar, don’t matter – just as the rights to sunlight and breeze of those around a skyscraper don’t matter. Nature is just another “asset”, just like the bulk of humans. Under capitalism, the “value” all assets must be squeezed out to the max. If they don’t generate adequate “return”, they are written off, i.e. they are finished off in various… Read more »

tunglang

CAT, a coincident of Animal Farm in realisation in Penang? We once have a big dream on the eve of 308 foolhardiness that Penang will never again be run by ‘animals’ (e.g. ostrich). Alas, we are now the guinea pig fools whose individual dreams have turned into nightmares, a frenzied state of existence run by arrogant ‘animals’ with no iota of conscience of humanity, neither a care for the fragile environment BUT unrelenting swap-deals in the name of Money. In the animal kingdom of dog eat dog world, what matters are materialistic self-enrichment of tangibles. The intangibles of happiness, sanity,… Read more »

tunglang

Concrete that when a switch is ‘switched on it changes from a solid dark mass to a environmentally friendly see-through mass so that the fishes and the sea-grass can wink and wave at the people going to work in the morning.
But, do you know some or most fishes will die of breathlessness when skirts pass by above? 🙂 🙂 🙂

Yang

If we don`t remove DAP & the CAT by next GE, you can be sure that Penang would be no more the Pearl of the Orient it use to be. It would be a total mess. 110 acres in Tanjong Tokong has been contra off for the developer for a tunnel to be seen in 8 years time or maybe you may not even see it. Meanwhile the developer is using this land and laughing to the bank. To put it precise, the PR DAP govt is providing the developer with 110 acres to make money first and later with… Read more »

Free School Tak Berani Ponten

27 Pakatan MP including its leaders the CAT, Azmin & Hadi PONTENG on the day of POTA voting.
If this in happened Penang Free School in the 70s, they sure kena rotan from disciplinary master who happened to be military corp master!

tunglang

A concrete & sand filled brain can only think of concretisation of everything, dead or alive. We now have a CM with concrete bloodless brain cells that cannot think out of the box of LGE cement. Driving too much in Merc S300Lansi laden with cement? The entire 28th Floor Komtar Tower should be renamed as Developers Association Playground (DAP) with Cement Associated Transformation (CAT) for the ‘sake’ of Penang Island for the rich, famous & greedy developers. In the 60s, Penangites had pride of bing chui that in difficult times, the family ethos was “never to swap your beloved wives… Read more »

calvinsankaran

CAT – Condos, Apartments and Towers
DAP – Developers Above People

marvel hero

Better to invest in cement stocks …
quicker gain to afford cement condo not living in atap houses.

marvel hero

Why no build cemented LRT to solve island traffic woes? Developers can justify returns now that we have enough foreigners to meet the profit margins?

gk ong

Dedicate to all singing their praises to the Lord:
http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=LxNNHkvIwnw

Charlie xcx

Anil has finally admitted Penang island the playground for development whether sustainable or not time Will tell.
Now those can’t stand such development better play safe to have options elsewhere. Don’t have to be rich or smart to relocate to more favourable places. Welcome to Kee’s Club!

calvinsankaran

No wonder the developers love LGE and DAP – Penang is truly a paradise for them. By now the mind set and policy of the (CM) is becoming clearer. It is clear now that he uses the land swap model (allegedly) in order to by pass public scrutiny. The question that need to be asked is why are these projects being carried out? For whose benefit? We don’t see the same urgency or importance attached to Penang Development Plan, affordable housing or public transport. Rm142B is the largest project in Malaysian history, dwarfing even the 2 MRT and 1 LRT… Read more »

Michael

Correct me if I am wrong, but marine life is dependent on sunlight, among other things and concrete is not translucent, the last time I looked. However, as I am usually behind the eight ball, maybe the appropriate ‘concrete’ geeks have invented concrete that when a switch is ‘switched on it changes from a solid dark mass to a environmentally friendly see-through mass so that the fishes and the sea-grass can wink and wave at the people going to work in the morning.

Now next thing, do fishes breath or not?