Rifle Range flats set for urban renewal


The results of a competition to come up with the best urban renewal design for the congested and run-down Rifle Range area in Penang will be revealed on 4 November.

Rifle Range is one of the state’s oldest low-cost apartment projects, and when completed in the 1970s, the 17-18 storey blocks, were among the tallest buildings in the state. (Did you know that Rifle Range got its name because the site was originally used for target practice back in the 1950s?) The nine blocks contain one- or two-bedroom pigeon-hole apartments, measuring about 400 square feet each. Haphazard hawker stalls and parking of vehicles add to the general sense of congestion.

The design competition, which closed on 22 September, has received 57 entries (17 from overseas), of which 22 have been shortlisted.

The local government hopes that this urban renewal project will be a benchmark for transforming other state low-cost flats. So far, it seems the local government hasn’t decided whether to tear down the existing buildings or refurbish them.

I hope the plans will include a strong public transport component.

If the refurbishment is done right and if residents are consulted and their views incorporated, it would be a positive move in transforming Penang. After all, a poor built environment may breed all kinds of social problems.

The general decline in foreign direct investment could also be a blessing as it could pave the way for public and private funds to be mobilised into projects that really benefit and empower the people. Apart from urban renewal, such projects could focus on public transport, public health care (as opposed to medical tourism), affordable housing, food security, meaningful education, skills development and arts and culture. All these sectors can generate jobs and improve human dignity.

Residents of other low-cost flats in the state – many of which are poorly maintained – will be watching closely to see how the Rifle Range renewal works out.

The urban renewal design competition was organised by the state government, the MPPP, Pertubuhan Akitek Malaysia Northern Chapter (PAM NC) and the Malaysian Institute of Planners.

An exhibition of the entries is now being held at City Hall daily, and from 1 November, the display moves to the Town Hall. It might be interesting to hop over and see what could be in store for Rifle Range.

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Ah Soon, if the State Govt had no interest in resolving the issue, they would not have taken this initiative.
Why are you so negative even before they process has been completed?
No one is questioning your rights to ask questions.
We just can’t stand your nonsense by shooting everything and anything that does not fit your myopic view of how things are suppose to be run
Go out there and see how tough it is to get things done with one arm tied behind your back.


It is not the DAP State government.

This is an initiative of Jason Ong, the state rep from PRK.

Ong Eu Soon

The issue of Rifle Range is not a car park issue which some politicians want us to believe. The fact that at one stage there are more than 15,000 people squeezing in 3072 unit of single room flat with 387 sf is a big real insult to Penangites. How can those people enjoy the basic entertain at night that they can best afford with their children all squeezing in one bedroom? Those days if you posed this kind of question nobody will bother to shoot you down. Now with the champion of some sycophant supporters in power, this question is… Read more »


“15,000 people squeezing in 3072 unit of single room flat with 387 sf”

Rifle Range is not designed for large family!

The problem is our poor tend to have large family.
Do not blame others when you do not have good quality of living that you simply cannot afford.


A. Many of the units in Rifle Range are vacant.

B. Many of the occupied units are being occupied by people who have means to live elsewhere – they live there not because they are poor but because they are used to Rifle Range, it’s their community.

Ong Eu Soon

What a shame to all those partisan stand that totally ignored the fact that the Rifle Range folks have been long condemned to a life without basic rights, lacking adequate provision of sanitation and livable space, total lack of privacy, living in a slum with sub-standard housing, and vulnerable to exploitation and crime, they need and deserve better cities and a better life. Oct 4 ,2010 is World Habitat Day, it is an occasion to highlight five strategic steps that can be taken: 1. Improve the quality of life, especially for the estimated 1 billion people living in slums and… Read more »


Tear it down, and change the name! Penang’s “Rifle Range Flats” is noted pigeon hole and a real disgrace with its share of drug addicts and gangsterism. Thanks to decades of BN rule, but don’t point fingers, you deserve it Penangites, for keep voting them(BN-Gerakan) to office again and again every 5 years! Pakatan Rakyat govt should give it a new look, create a new healthy image and raise the quality of life for its residents. Trees and landscaping are very important features for places of such high density so that the aged and youngs are able to spend time… Read more »

Jefri Mamak

Preserve it.

It is a good contrast to ‘The Light’.

tan, tanjong bungah

Hi everyone, The Rifle Range flats were built at a time when there were very very few car and motor cycle owners in Pg! Most people were moving around then by cycling! If I’m not mistaken, the minister responsible for the Rifle Range flats project some 40 years’ ago was the late Tan Sri Khaw Kai Boh from MCA, though we cannot say he is at fault for the present predicaments of the residents! But, times have changed and many residents in Rifle Range flats now own motorised vehicles – hence, the dire consequence of not enough parking space and… Read more »


Yes,anttwang, you are right in what you said.

Ah Soon, looks like you dont know Hong Kong has the most pigeon holes. Do you know a unit measuring 600 sq ft costs Malaysian Rinngit more than One Million??? My cousin’s daughter is living in such a unit.

“The pigeon hole is an insult to Penangnite.” Ah Soon, why dont you donate so that these people can get a more comfortable flat. Do you mean developer build free apartments ah?

Ah Soon forever only know how to cakap besar only and his only expertise is to criticise Lim Guan Eng…


It is accepted by developed nations standard that old buildings that harbor health hazard should be knocked down and replaced with more advanced environmental friendly buildings with better infrastructure requirements introduced. Gerakan “Beggar Politicians” were too busy polishing UMNO boots, so it is left to current PR Administration to implement this proposed project…obviously, with a much better result…especially minus the Ketuanan UMNOputras dipping their fingers at the pie!


This appears to be the site for it:



Ah Soon keeps condemning everything because changes are not taking place at neck breaking speed. You are a fool to shout at everyone just because you think you have the “Bestest” of best ideas.
Go and become a Councillor now that is open.
You will know how long it takes to go thru’ the Government machinery. One cannot simply bring in the bulldozers and plough everything down.
If you think you can do it, walk the talk, and don’t keep shooting your mouth at everything even before it has started.


Some comments sound like the problem lies with the current state government. Wonder where he is during the previous government. Maybe he was born about two years and now just learning to babble.
I am a proud Penangite and proud of the current government for initiating the project. Kudos.
We are on the right track. The state government is doing the right thing and we all should support it.
It is not easy, as we are aware that the federal government wouldnt want to see a successful opposition state government.

Khoo Ken Seong

Would be happy if you could publish the exhibit on your website for those penangnites like me who is working outstation that be at the town hall to see it personally. thanks in advance 😉

Ong Eu Soon

If we don’t stop the current high density development which are not transit oriented and with less livable space, one in three Penangites will end up living in high density slums like Rifle Range or River road. One should ask this question; why should we invest all our life time saving into a ghetto that we hate.

Jefri Mamak

Ah soon

Rifle Range residents do not appreciate your ‘ghetto’ remark.

Can you find a charitable organization that can provide low density housing for Rifle Range folks?

Otherwise please spare us your irrelevant comments. Do something positive. Maybe decades of ‘Impotent Gerakan’ has made you frustrated. Be more positive please.


How many Rifle Range residents do you know, Jefri Mamak?

Do you know that many of them are quite well off?

Ong Eu Soon

We not only need justice in general, we also need environmental justice in particular. Penangites should realise what they need is a healthy neighborhoods with convenient access to good schools, affordable housing, parks, and grocery stores; equitable public investments; and access to opportunity.

What Penangites don’t need is politicians who are brainless and have no gut to right the wrong of the previous state government.

Ong Eu Soon

Not only the state government should tear down Rifle Range flats, it should also introduce new regulation to stop developers from building pigeon holes in Penang.
The state government should set a precedent in providing more livable space to it’s citizens. This will set it apart from the past practices of BN. The poor are also human being. They need room to make love as that is the only entertainment affordable.
Children need more space for their activities and learning as well as privacy.


1. Lim Guan Eng and DAP need money.

2. Developers are very generous with “donations”.

You get the idea.

Ong Eu Soon

Rifle Range is a classic example of high density slum. The pigeon hole is an insult to Penangites. It is pointless to renovate the pigeon hole, unless the state government can figure out how to combine two unit into one. The state government should not hesitate not tear it down. If in Singapore, you don’t have to tell the authorities, they will just tear down the building and rebuild it into a more livable environment.


To achieve less density and better housing (bigger and more expensive), the only way is for the poor to practise proper family planning to achieve better quality of living for the next generation.

I am not advocating BN’s 2-generation housing loan as it promotes debt-ridden society.

In short, if you cannot afford, then do not have too many children to add burden to yourself and the society.


If you need a big house cheap for your large family, may I suggest you move to Kelantan or Trengganu.


Dear Ong,

The plan is to do exactly that. Combining two or more present units into one, making them bigger.

Plus a multi-storey car park.


Hope for the best for Rifle Range.

When there is a will, there is a way.
I am happy that bas pajak (legacy from Gerakan) is being wiped out in Penang island.