Penang development “too property-centric”, warns MPPP councillor


An MPPP councillor has urged his fellow councillors to think about what sort of development they want for Penang.

Dr Lim Mah Hui, an Aliran member and civil society rep in the MPPP, was speaking at a full council meeting of the MPPP yesterday. Now, Mah Hui is neither a politician nor a businessman: he is just contributing his time – and MPPP work on various committees does takes up a lot of time – and experience as a form of public service.

A former professor and international banker, he certainly knows what he is talking about. He has a PhD in development studies, and taught politics, sociology and political economy prior to becoming a banker, working for over 20 years in a string of major international banks around the world. His full profile here.

All those who care about Penang should take note of his message:

I would like to touch on the issue of what type of development is Penang, in particular Penang island, heading towards.

Let me begin with an anecdote. Last week I had dinner with Mr Ramesh Chander who was a Chief Statistician in the Department of Statistics of Malaysia in the 1970s who then went to work for the World Bank and is an advisor to many countries in setting up their statistics department. He was here on a visit from Washington DC to advise SERI, now Penang Institute, on improving their data collection. He said the last time he came to Penang was about three to four years ago and the thing that struck him the most this time was the enormous number of high-rise and tall buildings all over Penang Island. He is not the only one to say this. Many other visitors have observed the same thing. And he continued he fears that we are heading towards a housing and construction bubble.

The present state government is right to say that it wants George Town to be an international liveable city and to be a magnet to attract talent to this city. In its rush to achieve this goal, it has opened the flood-gates to developers to build as much and as fast as possible: more houses, more high-rise apartments, more shopping malls and more commercial offices. If this is not properly planned and controlled we could end up destroying the unique charm of Penang island.

Full text of his address on the Aliran website.

Please help to support this blog if you can.

Read the commenting guidlelines for this blog.
Notify of

Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

many share the frustrations of tunglang. myself being sidelined during gerak-geri era because i got no connection. now i’m past 55 i guess some may call me “regress” old folk but i intend to live lively minus the temptation of consumerism. stop the cravings, yearnings for these and that and then we shall realize our basic needs are simple as that when we are in the 60’s or 70’s. i dedicate this song to tunglang and company : always young and heart and cherish the 60’s when thing was clear in black n white simplicity. i think tunglang sing a… Read more »


Hey, I love this Young Ones. Maketh me feel young again thinking of my 60’s & 70’s days in Macalister Road and Madras Lane. And oh yes, I could recall the ‘obladi’ days of Free School’s ‘obladi’ HM of 1974-75 who had this demented spirit of marking me out for Bruce Lee’s style long hair. Even in the dispirited days of yester-long-gone-years of having my hair cut GI style by Indian barber with croocked scissors in the school main hall watched over by prefects, I still had fun singing Ob-la-di, ob-la-da, life goes on in Penang Free School! My dedication… Read more »


Development in Penang is controlled and guided by Penang Structure Plan and (yet to be announced) Local Plan which provides for public input according to the law. Councillors please read.

Syiok Syiok

Penang Structural Plan or whatsoevr plan still classified as OSA (official secret act) ? Public participation and feedbacks should be ongoing exchanges to get the most optimal plans for fair (without $ leakages) execution. Malaysians in particular the Penangites need to be actively involved and be aware of what’s happening (not just to know happening commercial places or eating outlets like those TCKs) around. Somehow, we only seem to show concern and care within our own home compounds and leave the external environment (outside our houses) to the authorities ? If the authorities are careless with “bo-chap” attitudes (like pre… Read more »


Develop, speculate, buy, sell, decay. That is the maxim and/or mantras of the wealthy-not-enough of Donald-Duck Tramp wannabes for the next 10 years in Penang for pro-flashy development of mindless, dizzy proportion. This will change the ori-Penangite’s lifestyle and survival vis-à-vis the influx of outsider richie especially those in the below middle class who find it even hard to survive on RM1000 as a family of 3 in the outskirts. I would rather Penang not get the UNESCO Heritage Site status and development would be not this dizzy, pro-greedy and uncaring. For those over the employment anthill (50 plus), life… Read more »


RE : Develop, speculate, buy, sell, decay. Phase Develop : Still on going with masterplans from many developers Phase Speculate : Still “bo kia si” – tak takut mati – a bit slow down past 2 mths ? Phase Buy : OK for those who can afford as many with excees $ have fear of shrinking value of RM in high inflation era. For those with impulsive purchase (join the herd mentality), better get “Mopiko” ready to heal the burning wounds. Phase Sell : may be sooner than we thought. Recent stock market volatility is not a welcoming sign for… Read more »


So the secret of tunglang’s success is finally out in the open.


Phase Decay :
The developers (could be the original ones) can buy back the properties cheaply and then redevelop them into something else for sale at higher price come next economy upswing period.

The cycle goes on.

So my bros & sis, be careful with your hard earned blood sweat money ……


If only I had learnt from Robert T. Kiyosaki of ‘Rich Dad Poor Dad’ in the 90’s, I would not have lamented on my poor financial status to the extent of giving up living in ‘almost haven’ Penang for an Ulu place such as Belum, Perak come 55. The shrewd game of financial wealth creation of buy cheap, sell high is now an open secret. Any sensible businessman knows this ‘profit from thy neighbors’ principle even in hiring of cheapo labors (no thanks to apanama). Maximize profit, minimize human feelings. However the game of develop, speculate, buy, sell, decay is… Read more »

Ong Eu Soon

If you think what is stated in this blog is bad enough, read my article about Penang Most Bizarre Property Development – Skyscraper Condos With Unusual Plot Ratio Concession at


This Ong Eu Soon is in the same class as KTK.

Again and again, he has been told off for hitching his blog to that of Anil’s.

Anyone who has seen his behaviour at public forum will understand why few, if any, bothers to visit his blog.

Absolutely thick skinned.


Eu Soon must have read book ‘Berani Gagal’ or ‘Dare To Fail’ to be so gung ho.


Before Captain Francis Light came ashore to declare his founding of Pulo Panang and eventual concession of the state by the Kedah Sultan into a colony of The British Straits Selttlements, there already were Malays, Indians and Chinese settlers making a living on the pristine island. Through the history, these original settlers transformed the state’s cultural-social landscape and environment, interacting with and integrating the influx of influences from the colonialists and East-West traders of the days. Today, we are seeing these surviving cultural blueprints which are living legacies of multi-cultural potpourri of our forefathers. Walking in the inner city of… Read more »

Ong Eu Soon

The previous state government may be on of culprit, but why LGe must follow the footstep of zero KPI? Knowing that whatever thing done by the eunuch is bad for Penangites, but pick up what have been left behind by KTK? Tell me you are not bias when you defend LGe blindly! I provided proof of how LGe is fast tracking Penang island into a big ghetto at Did you ever provide any factual proof to counter my accusation? If you want to talk about 2 parties system, you can’t blame me for finger pointing LGe for all the… Read more »


I agreed with Soon that LGE is fast tracking Penang favouring the big developers for high end residences with projects haphazardly approved here and there and not favouring the lower and middle income people. Most of the projects approved does not take into consideration the enviroment, greenery, recreation area, and road planning etc etc etc.


Property development is the last resort of people with money (including public money) and no ideas. This is the problem behind the current spate of billion-RM announcements by the current administration of the country almost every other week.

Ong Eu Soon

Fast tracking Penang island into a big ghetto is what LGe planed since day one as he does not know what to do but totally depends on developers to deliver the so called DEVELOPMENT! This Lim Mah Hui does not know what he is talking about, a self proclaimed expert, who pick up the ideas of others and claimed as his own. He just echo the views of others, it took him so long to realise that LGe is fast tracking Penang island into a Big Ghetto!


Ah Soon, again everytime when there’s any story about Penang state governement, your fingers are pointed at LGE. Aren’t you bias? Aren’t these the work of the previous government? I’m not saying LGE and the present government should be exempted from from blame but first of all your gingers should be pointed at the very government who started the rot. Or do you belong to any party related to the previous government, thus the shooting and blaming on the present government. You were not at the forum for the councillor election or maybe you darn’t made yourself known. Why blame… Read more »

Sze Tho

…..What else do you expect from an angry man with a chip on his shoulder. He has no life. His time is spent sspewing the same old nonsense….


The island has been destroyed already , no doubt about that

Rush Sam

Yes, during the Gerakan era, but now being rehabilitated under DAP.

PR government has to enact a bylaw to specify how many green lung area per hectare in the city, otherwise Georgetown is like another dull concrete jungle.


If ever there is a time machine, I would recommend LGE and his team take a trip down memory lane of lawat sambil belajar ‘refresher’ course in Pulo Panang early development as a traders’ and British colonialist’s paradise in the then Straits Settlement era. And perhaps ask Captain Francis Light over a cup of tea why he preferred to conserve and designate Penang Hill as his meditative and convalescent ‘hill escapade’ in the heat of developing Tanjung and not gallop straight away to Cameron Highland or Frasers Hill. May be mind channeling is another viable option to travel back in… Read more »


If this is not properly planned and controlled we could end up destroying the unique charm of Penang island. How strongly and aptly expressed by Dr Lim Mah Hui is this statement. Developers are merely happy suppliers more than willing to fulfill the dream of an international city but how concerned are they to the dire consequences affecting the fabrics of living humanity within and without the concrete structures they build? What architectural ‘tastes’ are they encouraging which may or may not blend well with Penang’s unique cultural icons of hundred years old world charm. And some property investors, local… Read more »


Mr tunglang,

Mark your calendar. Najib will be at the Han Chiang Penang on 29 September to announce his development plan for Penang. Looks like he is using the historic ground (good feng shui?) to launch BN’s ’15+3+3′ strategy (Umno 15 seats, Gerakan and MCA each 3 seats) to recapture Penang with a simple majority.

Ghim Soon

Tan Kok Ping granted DAP to use the hall of Han Chiang.

Now the priviledges also went to Najib (UMNO).

Can 15+3+3 strategy reverse the 308 tsunami ?


Add up 15+3+3 = 21. 2+1 = 3 In Cantonese, it means alive, thrive, flourish. Numerology speaking of 3: It’s roots stem from the meaning of multiplicity. Creative power; growth. Three is a moving forward of energy, overcoming duality (which is 308. 3+8 = 11. 1+1 =2), expression, manifestation and synthesis. Three is the first number to which the meaning “all” was given. It is The Triad, being the number of the whole as it contains the beginning, a middle and an end. The power of three is universal and is the tripartide nature of the world as heaven, earth,… Read more »

Rush Sam

Najib subscribes to his favourite number 11, as
308 => 3+0+8 = 11, leading to the downfall of Pak Lah for him to take over.

So 29 on September means 2+9 = 11.
Another auspicious number for him to make further breakthrough in Han Chiang on that day!

Wonder what Lilian Too has to say about this.

Syiok Syiok

Lillian Too will give her “wind water” prediction of 2012 at Hotel Equatorial Penang; and the bottomline is for you to spend money on her “home accessories” to bring good fortunes.

If these “home accessaories” are welcoming good fortunes and shieding us from bad luck, then I am to learn from fellow Anil’s readers the impact of creating a giant “windwater” structure that can being good fortunes to Malaysia ?????


By attending her seminar, Lilian Too offers you her lucky feng-shui charms (… sold to you at high price) to ward off all the afflictions she will mention to you.

Better see no evil, hear no evil.


No.11 is a duality. Bad for a leader who speaks 2 directions and cannot make up his true mind of already split intentions. Which means perpetually in self conflict to get a simple thing done for the country.
What with many ‘kutus’ … behind his back!

Ho Hia Tee

Spore is well developed yet they can create gardens in the inner city even in the public housing estates, something our gomen (federal n local) has failed to emulate. Msia is a natural tropical garden but town councils always cite high cost of maintaining gardens in the towns/cities ? Lame excuse. Beautifying the towns/cities seems to be lucrative business for those contracted to do that. High rise buildings without well-planned/groomed/maintained garden enviroments surely make concrete jungles a reality. Couple with massive carbon emission from motor vehicles jamming the streets, we surely lack carbon converter (like plants in day time) to… Read more »

First cultural shock I encountered when I reached Penang for a new job after leaving Singapore.

I immediately asked my friends why no trees in the Georgetown. The city looked “botak”.

I liked Georgetown for its old charm like Muar town.

Rush Sam

Actually more trees should be planted on the roadsides of Penang – to provide greenery, natural shades and cooling effect. Certainly can benchmark with Singapore on the types of trees (i.e. those with roots that do not damage roads/drains) and method to prune the branches and fertilize the trees.

Ghim Soon

Efforts to “gardenising” Penang seems to be restricted to Botanic Garden.
MPPP etc need to have paradym shift with out of box thinking to create simple to maintain gardens in the inner cities (eg choice of plants that can withstand heat and no need constant water supply – just consult Desmond Ho).
So nkkhoo i agreed with you Penang inner city is truly ‘botak’ although some folks have refurbished the old pre-war houses with fresh paints (some colourfully engaging).


Taiwan Kaoshung city is a good example to transform from a slum land to world-class green city in less than 10 years.

I thought Georgetown is a sister city to Kaoshung, LGE should invite garden experts from Singapore or Koashing to green the inner city.