Penang’s new (artificial) island in the sun – for whom?


The first phase of a 760-acre island, mainly for the well heeled, is emerging off the northeast coast of Penang Island – part of the Seri Tanjung Pinang Phase 2 reclamation. Smack in the middle of where the Tanjung Tokong fisherfolk used to work.

This frenzied reclamation work comes at a time when the property market is experiencing something of a slump, with the signs of unoccupied high-end condos and a glut in retail property growing ever more visible.

The fertility rate in Penang has plunged below the crucial 2.1 mark as people have fewer children.

Meanwhile, with the total fertility rate in Penang plunging well below the replacement level of 2.1 children per woman, the population of Penang is only inching up (thanks to a small net annual inflow of people from elsewhere).

So who are they building for?

Photos taken by a concerned Penangite.

READ MORE:  How will China's clamps on fund outflows affect demand for homes abroad?
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  1. Just think we should be a bit careful about information here. The MM2H program that the overseas Chinese may have is fairly limited. They do not come in “tax free”…they are allowed to import a used vehicle tax free or purchase a new Malaysian produced one “tax free”. After various fees for the long-term visa and the purchase cost of their condominium, most will still be required to place nearly RM500,000 in a frozen account in a Malaysian bank. If they earn money from Malaysian based investment they will be taxed at the normal income tax rates.

    My understanding is that their children will not be allowed to enter public schools, only private schools. If born abroad these children would not be accorded citizenship. They will not even be permanent residents (though the visa can be renewed every decade). They will not receive a MyKAD that confers full citizenship, so will not be allowed to register to vote. And only with the permission of the “proper Ministries” can they actually work in Malaysia.

    While there are certainly concerns about the social and economic effects of having large numbers of non-citizens living in an enclave…as well as the environmental impacts…I think that it’s best to be careful not to demonize a group of people. If sales agents are misrepresenting the MM2H program to them, then that needs to be corrected.

    • Could it be the reason why the Johor state exco member in charge of housing gets implicated in corruption when under table money can change hands easily with policies of vague nature as in the case of freehold definition?

    • “Sultan Ibrahim Dream House” project for local Bangsa Johor, while Forest City project for foreign Bangsa Johor?

  2. Only in Forest City, get freehold titles on ‘leasehold’ land

    Anonymous #44199885: Ninety-nine years is a long, long time and enough for at least three generations to multiply and grow – three generations of foreigners who are alien to our shared culture, customs and values.

    Why should millions of them who do not contribute to our economy and nation building be given tax-free status?

    Mind you, if they enjoy tax-free status, then it is Malaysians who will bear the cost and expenses via higher taxation to support the supply of services and infrastructure for them.

    My Observation: Malaysians are deemed orang kaya by those you know who (who have perverted interests in such FDI) to bear all the costs of supporting property-investing foreigners yang sudah jauh kaya!!!

  3. Freehold or leasehold?

    It is almost comical to read the current debate between ‘freehold’ and ‘leasehold’ at Forest City, Johor. More than that, the debate has now extended to ‘reclaimed land’ and ‘existing land’.

    What started as ‘sovereignty’ and ‘development model’ issues have now turned into freehold versus leasehold and reclaimed land versus existing land debates.

    I have a few questions:

    First, does it matter whether the land is freehold or leasehold when the issue is national sovereignty? When foreigners own leasehold lands, do they have lesser claim on Malaysia when a situation warrants it?

    Second, when conferring the land status (ie freehold or leasehold), why argue whether the land is reclaimed or existing? Are they saying for reclaimed lands, we could confer freehold status more readily than existing land? Why and how so? Are reclaimed lands not part and parcel of Malaysia’s and Johor’s territory?

    I think we must be clear in our minds. When foreigners own freehold lands in Malaysia, they have no better claim to become citizens of Malaysia. We could have granted citizenship to people who own nothing or just leasehold lands. Similarly, owning lands, whether freehold or leasehold, confer them nothing over the ‘sovereignty’ of the area unless they become citizens.

    I think what Dr Mahathir Mohamad said was this – a large swathe of lands was conferred freehold status and then sold to foreigners, significantly from one single country. When there is a huge concentration of foreigners owning and residing in one single locality, what would be the future implications like?

    In the immediate term, I agree there is no fear of Malaysia losing the sovereignty of the area for sure. But this is a ‘development model’ many Malaysians are concerned with – we created a freehold township that is almost exclusively owned and to be resided by foreigners from a single third country.

    I think the concern is not just for Forest City in Johor. There is a possibility that the same development model is being duplicated in other localities such as Malacca and the East Coast states once the rail project take effect.

    It is an issue of affordability and pricing the properties beyond the reach of most Malaysians including even the middle and upper middle income groups. I think 5 percent of the rich in China are more than 50 percent of the middle class in this country. There is no level-playing field any more when come to purchasing power. There will be severe consequences if nothing is done to protect local interests.

    • If cannot get PRC Chinese to buy, probably BN could offer PR for foreigners buying up such expensive condominiums, under the pretext of Malaysia My Second Home? The problem is this could attract foreign crooks with ill gotten money escaping their home countries, settling in Malaysia as Mafia?

      No wrong to assume that other BN states lik Melacca and Trengganu, even Kedah duplicating the Forest City model, knowing how fast the cash injection that could even build a football team like JDT and new stadium.

    • The mamak too busy making money and no effort in cleaning it’s premises.
      Poor hygiene in food preparation too.
      Certainly bad for the image of Penang food.
      Do not ever recommend it to foreign tourists.

      • Why no mandatory requirement for these 24-hour operators to close operation for cleaning at regular period?

      • It is very unhealthy to see cats around the such eating establishments. Anthony Bourdain has sarcastically made such observation when he dined at such food stall in one of his travel program to Penang. Certainly the cats are not there to prey on the rats.

        Eating contamination food improves your immunity system? But it is more likely that damage is done to your internal organs and shorten of life span unknowingly to many.

    • Halal according to Jakim:

      a. Does not stem from or consists of any part of or item from animals that are forbidden to Muslims by Islamic law, or animals that have not been slaughtered according to Islamic law.
      b. Does not contain any substance that is considered impure in Islamic law.
      c. Is not prepared, processed or manufactured using equipment or utensils that are not free from impurities as defined by Islamic law
      d. That, in the preparation, processing or storage stage, does not come in contact with or is stored near any kind of food that does not meet the requirements of para(s) (a), (b) or (c) or any substances that are considered impure by Islamic law.

      So is Line Clear food halal? Rat shit is impure, right?

  4. Now The Reality Of Property Industry Sinks In:
    China’s capital control could cause abandoned projects here

    Veteran economist says international, local buyers won’t be able to fill void left by Chinese nationals in various development projects after China curbs capital flight.

    PETALING JAYA: A veteran economist believes there will be a surge in abandoned property projects in Johor, Kuala Lumpur and Penang following China’s crackdown on capital flight.
    Speaking to FMT, Hoo Ke Ping said China’s aggressive measures against capital flight would affect property developers – both local and international – who catered to house buyers from China.
    “Chinese nationals who have purchased homes but haven’t finished paying for them may not be able to do so.”
    He said China’s central bank may force those who purchased homes outside of China to finish paying their loans in China.
    “Even if Chinese buyers account for only 20% of a project and they can’t continue paying their instalments and default, a developer is bound to run into cash flow problems.
    “What is certain is that there won’t be any new sales. So there is a possibility that projects which cater to Chinese nationals could end up being abandoned.”
    Hoo said even though Chinese developers like Country Garden – the developer of the massive Forest City project in Johor – were looking to other international buyers to fill the void left by the Chinese, it would be an uphill task.
    “People from the Middle East are unlikely to fill the void given current oil prices while Europeans and Australians haven’t shown any interest in coming to Malaysia in a big way all this while.”
    Hoo said locals too wouldn’t take up the homes.
    “These homes were built for the Chinese market. They cost over a million ringgit. How many locals can afford them?
    “So now the developers need to slash prices to salvage the situation.
    “But even if they slash prices by 20%, it may still be out of reach for many.”
    Hoo said he believed the situation would persist for at least three years as it was crucial for China to control its capital flight.
    Earlier it was reported that the Forest City project in Johor may face difficulties with Country Garden closing all sales centres in mainland China.
    Forest City is a futuristic smart city project to be built on four man-made islands spanning 1,385.6 hectares.
    Costing RM100 billion, it is expected to be completed within 20 years and will have a range of facilities, including housing units, offices and shopping malls.
    Alan Ho, a former sales agent at Country Garden’s Malaysian operations, said about 90% of Forest City buyers were from China.

    My Observation: Would you believe the property gurus, the Menteri Besar (or CM) or those who have business interests in singing “make hay while the sun shines on properties of off-shore islands”?

  5. GEORGE TOWN, March 9 — Malaysia needs to put in infrastructure for high speed Internet in order to catch up with other Asean countries, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said today. The Penang lawmaker said the country needs high speed Internet in order to progress.

    So please give us affordable high speed internet, not man-made islands!

    • What happened to Penang Free WIFI?
      Behaving like UFOs, was there & gone off radar the next moment!
      Pls don’t proclaim something unachievable to shiok sendiri!
      Cosmopolitan Penang Connected? Da-da-da-dah!

      • Free high speed internet allows kids to play dota online and neglect school work? And adults can stream inflix movies free and neglect work?

      • Tua pek kong’s stupid comment which is irrelevant. Everyone and student will bend their heads and walk on street looking at their hand phones. He wants parent and their children to glue to the wifi.

      • PM himself advised us to to double job to help him realizing high income status. Readers here may soon have to drive Uber to pay for their car loan. Times will continue to be hard looking at the currency exchange table on The Sun, how pathetic Ringgit has become. Why must you give the mandate for another 30 years of sufferings when TN50 will only help bumiputeras but not you?

    • I think it is better to provide free shuttle buses like the Bas Muafakat in Johor, which could ease traffic congestion and help those who could not afford to own cars.

      • those cant afford cars are oredi using public transport. they dont jam the roads. they are jammed by car users. car users are king of road.

      • Affordability is not issue since the banks are more than willing to assist to give you loan, albeit high interest.

  6. For inspirational architectures, Penang developers can learn to build for:

    Castles in the air: Innovative designs for communal living

    From a sustainable urban three house in Turin, Italy to an interlocking megastructure in Singapore, these apartments “suggest models for how you can provide decent housing for people of every income level, from the very poor to the very rich, and in between.”

    • just off topic.freemalaysia today mentions babas are selling off the heritage in pg. when tua pek kong going to scream and sto them?

  7. Beware, developers are now looking at Chinese investors… don’t be surprised if the mainland Chinese are the ones taking up units here, just like another reclaimed island at a southern state

    • Something only wrong with mainlanders? What gilakan federal Gomen having Bangla, viets, indons, Burmese and Nepalese staying and renting and competing with lower income here. We only Shout at the rich but not the poor

    • 24% of foreigners taking up the “Make Malaysia My Second Home” are PRC Chinese. The promotional brochures and videos of Forest City Johor are mainly in Mandarin, unlikely targeting the Arabs or the Indians.

      • how come only 24% are mainlaners even with adverts in chinese? why not 75%· Who are the 76% of lain2? again bangla,viets, indons, nepalese??

      • What you have mentioned contradicts with the Sultan of Johor’s assertion that Forest City is created for a wider global market.
        Well, we shall see the truth in the coming years.

      • The developer of the Forest City project in Johor has reportedly closed all of its sales centres in China amid a crackdown on capital flight.

        The South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported that a spokesperson for Country Garden Holdings said it had shut down all its offices to make way for renovations.

        The spokesperson denied it had anything to do with Beijing’s tightening of capital outflows.

      • Country Garden has got no choice but to switch tactics to woo buyers other than PRC Chinese as China is clamping hard on money (illicit black money) outflow for purchase of foreign properties. It remains to be seen if the Arabs or Europeans would be interested in Forest City. For once Country Garden must hire sales personnel who could speak languages other than Mandarin.

      • Beginning of the property bubble bursting in Iskandar?

        Without inflow of China money, those high end properties by the Chinese developers will have difficulty finding buyer as they are overpriced.

      • No buyer, no construction activities and no jobs and the multiplying effects. All other industries face a bleak turn down but there will be a increase in crimes and house break in. We sleep well.

  8. We can’t run away from captalists’ ventures to create and attract wealth to Penang. Since it has already been happening, we should not complaint too much by digging out the past. Instead, we should make sure the wealth are better distributed downstream so that most Penangites can benefit to raise the income level to combat Barang Naik syndrome. For instance, the State Government need to tax those wealthy gains, and the revenues collected be passed on to the community by having world class amenities all can enjoy.
    Cannot forever addicted to BR1M Dedak else hard to sustain justice !

    • When there rich people coming to live in Penang, there shall be spill over effect benefiting the people including fishermen. Otherwise, we should opt for socialist policy like in North Korea.

      • Rich people may not necessary spend big as they could be very prudent. Young generation tends to spend more for instant gratification in fashion, food & beverages and personal grooming to look hip and trendy, with no habit to save for the future (which is bleak to most of them despite all the vote-fishing talks in TN50 forums), now that they could even shop online with their smartphones.

      • Do you know when a person who has resolutely repaid his debts thro’ AKPK is again & again called by credit card agents to sign up (for more debts?)???

        Part of the debt problems & bankruptcy cases are created by the banks which never ever cut back the greed of their credit card misadventures with imprudent card users of today’s materialistic bin-chui adventurism.

        Rich people don’t have this problem as they pay up their monthly credit card balances in full.

      • DEBTs is a single big issue nowadays. Now we are seeing underground bankers advertising on posters, banners, bunters, flyers to provide easy loans. Surprisingly the local or federal gomen take no action on such unscrupulous activities.

        Next week many tourists from cruise ships arriving on the island. I bet many can easiily take selfie pics with such postings on the streets !

      • You have been screaming very loud at komtar. But Boh hood at Putra with all the past training.

    • If you tell the truth about the Malaysian economy, the Barisan Nasional government will be very upset. Prime Minister Najib Razak has criticised the Opposition for allegedly spreading lies about the economy. His Members of Parliament sing praises about the economy during current parliamentary debate.

      However, despite citing indexes and forecasts, none of them addressed serious structural issues that have been plaguing our economy.

      For instance, when debating the Royal Address in Parliament on 7th March 2017, BN’s Simpang Renggam MP Liang Teck Meng repeated Najib’s mantra by claiming that the Opposition had “sabotaged” the economy by spreading negative perceptions.

      If the Malaysian economy is so good as he claimed, why are government-linked corporations (GLCs) and government-linked investment corporations (GLICs) are voting with their feet by investing overseas instead of within Malaysia? Of course, as expected, he dare not answer it.

      Employees Provident Fund (EPF) Chief Executive Officer Datuk Shahril Ridza was reported to have said recently that the EPF is looking for global investment opportunities to counterbalance the impact of lower returns from the local equity market.

      According to Shahril, the EPF had about 6 percent global investments in 2009 but increased to about 20 – 24 percent, three or four years later. It is now approaching the 30 percent global investment cap at 29 percent, and the EPF is considering to increase the proportion. While overseas investment is at 29 percent, it contributed 39% of EPF’s gross investment income (The Star, 21st February 2017).

      Another proof is that in July 2015, Khazanah announced that 44 percent of its investment portfolio constituted foreign assets. There were hardly any overseas investments a decade earlier.

      In fact, Prime Minister Najib acknowledged in September 2015 that Malaysia was a net exporter of capital with Malaysian direct investment overseas exceeded foreign direct investment into Malaysia. Najib’s statement was the only time in recent years that he admitted the Malaysian economy was facing serious challenges. He was urging the GLCs/GLICs to bring back their revenue and invest in Malaysia.

      We have to tell the truth to the people about the economy. No one should blame the EPF, Khazanah and other GLICs/GLCs for investing heavily overseas. They had to do it because the returns for local investments are poor, and these agencies have to deliver dividends and profits as part of their KPIs.

      We must first accept the fact that the fundamental challenge to the Malaysian economy is that the economy is in the phase of a perpetual slow growth.

      Why is this happening? This slow growth is due to the lack of confidence in the economic leadership of Najib’s government, and the non-existence of any forms of reforms.

      To those MPs like Liang Teck Meng, please don’t waste your time persuading people that the economy is thriving. Malaysians know that the value of Ringgit is falling, the prices of goods and services are going up, the family budget is shrinking. Start focusing on people’s needs. Stop accusing people of being negative when the government refuses to look at the structural issues.

      It is time for Barisan Nasional to answer the question of economy in a more honest and candid manner. The Malaysian economy is indeed facing serious structural issues and they should not be swept under the carpet.

      • Barang Naik harga because Ringgit goes down in value each day.

        TN = Tipu Negara? For another 50 years?
        Wake up and exercise your vote wisely!

  9. City of Dreams on the island can inspire many ordinary Penangites to strive smartly to live the life of luxury?

  10. Fish population are not increasing. They are getting less and yet smart pg Lang are asking them to fish more. Better to be fisher of man

  11. Cheng Beng (Qingming or Ching Ming Festival, also known as Tomb-Sweeping Day in English) is coming soon.
    Instead of burning expensive paper bungalows into ashes & not see them again, why not buy brick + mortar bungalows for thy beloved deceased?
    Since no flesh + blood is going to occupy them, they will still look new & will still be under your portfolio of ‘assets’. Also, a good investment as an Airbnb condos for thy afterworld relatives + their ‘ho-hia-tee’ to stay during Hungry Ghost Months.
    Anil, you will be assured of increased population in Penang during these festivals!

    • why no shouting less tombs and burials and more cremation? more tombs more hill cutting and land clearing.


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