Sprucing up Penang


Good to see efforts being made to spruce up Penang.

The ban on free plastic bags is the right way to go.

Swiftlet breeding will soon be banned from the heritage zone. In the interim period, 32 new or unregistered breeders will have to move out by 1 January 2011. The remaining 78, who are registered breeders, will be given three years to relocate. See theSun report here.

Meanwhile, theSun also reports that the state government plans to restructure the Batu Feringghi ‘cowboy town’ zone, where most of the retail outlets and beach operators have been unlicensed for several decades. In the first phase, massage parlours and reflexology operators on the beach will be relocated to gazebos. Enforcement action against quad bike operators and horse-riding on the beach has started. Water sports activities may be relocated to areas within safety buoys.

The night market could be relocated to avoid congestion on the streets, though this could be trickier and will require much thought and planning. A place like Chiang Mai for instance is famous for its night market along the streets.

The state is also waiting for RM7 million from the federal government to upgrade the Batu Ferringhi pedestrian walkway. No point waiting for that money – it will be slow to come, if at all, knowing the BN federal government. Wouldn’t the RM50 million of state funds allocated for the PICC be better spent on improving walkways all across Penang and subsidising affordable housing?

And please don’t forget mainland Penang. What’s left of Pantai Bersih in Buttterworth (after the completion of the Butterworth Outer Ring Road) is in a sorry state, with haphazard construction of outlets and eateries an eye-sore along the beach-front. Some serious planning, reorganising and rezoning is needed here. Pantai Bersih is the last remaining stretch of beach that is accessible to the public after Borr and the North Butterworth Container Terminal cut off access to the Butterworth sea-front. Pity the mainland residents who have nowhere to go for healthy recreation. At least the folks on the Island have the Botanic Garden, the Youth Park and the Esplanade. And then we wonder why the crime rate is rising?

What do you all think of these efforts? What else needs to be done to clean up Penang?

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Pinang Boy

Chairman of Penang Malay Contractors Association Mohamed Fadzill Hassan has finally admitted that malay contractors are not marginalized in Penang and get the government contracts. He apologized.

However this is only reported in Chinese newspaper:


Wan Saleha

Don’t expect NST or Utusan to report this.
They choose to give coverage to the Komtar (protesters) who made unfounded allegations.


Hi Anil,

With all the plastic bag talk in Penang, here is a fun video from Youtube on the subject:




Penang must get rid of those troublemakers at Komtar.

Many Indian Muslims in Penang said they are not Indian, at all, and not from India, but are Muslims.

Kimma (Malaysian Indian Muslim Congress) and the stall owners in Komtar are (out) to create as much trouble as possible. Their ‘loyal service’ (may) earn them membership into the BN


Penang need to eradicate the menace of JAGA KERETA.

Thangathirai Joe

To teach those … a lesson, we should boycott their stalls.


Penang state government is a JOKE! Local politicians have said that they’ve banned quad bikes and horses…this so called enforcement is embarrassing. It’s the 6th of January and you can still see these activities on the beach. As a matter of fact, a few of those quad bikes have been zipping back and forth as I type this! (Yes, I’m on the beach right now) Apparently, the operators have been (allegedly) bribing … Tourism IS dying in batu ferringhi. Most of the hotels have loads of complaints from tourists citing that the beach is polluted with UNLICENSED and UNINSURED watersports… Read more »


Bird colonies and humans should not live so close together. We don’t need a round of Avian Flu to teach us that.

No one should be endangered because of the greed of his neighbours.
Moreover, the noise from speakers attracting those birds to come to build nests is damn irritating to the residents living nearby.
Those who want to rear swiftlets must move their “farms” to the appropriate areas.

The authorities should have acted on this much earlier.


The issue is bird nest investors are rich and powerful personalities.


lack of enforcement to clean up street eateries very seriously lacking. wonder what mppp is doing by not controlling the sprawling of such outlets. certain street food vendors can be carried out without much use of water but where there is a lot of washing involve it is certainly very unhygenic and just waiting for something serious to happen. especially in street corners around the heritage and fringe areas one can see plenty of them. unsightly and disgusting to look at. look at the one just outside the carnarvon street police station. left over food have no proper disposal, just… Read more »


The Penang hawkers prefer to maintain those poor and unhygenic image in order not to alert the income tax authority of their earnings. Penangites never complain so long as the food is tasty, as pointed out by Anil’s readers in their comments.


Ya, Hafiz, everytime when i pass through Gurney Drive, i felt so sad, anger and rage …

I suppose (the developer responsible) has to pay for the remedial work la…

The mudballs wont help much.

I often travel up to the end of Tg Bungah and i found that the main road of Tg Bungah is in a very bad state. I suppose it was due to heavy vehicles by the ongoing construction works.

I suppose the developers need to bear the cost of re-tarring of the roads. Developers make huge handsome profits and we have to pay the price???



Indeed it is sad. Gurney Drive is (was?) world reknown. We do have sufficient expertise locally and within public institutions – USM, JPS (Jabatan Parit Saliran), NAHRIM (National Hydraulic Institue Malaysia)etc. Engage their view first before going to the expensive private consultants. And as you rightly pointed out, get E&O to pay!!!

I really hope that Gurney Drive will one day become a waterfront that can match the popularity of the Avenue of the Star at HK’s Kowloon or the Bund at Shanghai.

Georgetown Boy

Gurney Drive has long lost its charm.
The beach is muddy.
The road is jammed with vehicles.
Those bungalows are now being replaced by high rise hotels and shopping centres.

Pinang Boy

Penang should spruce out those ‘massage parlours’ (Bolehland euphemism for prostitute dens) and ‘GROs’ (Bolehland euphemism for hostesses/prostitutes).

There must be a will to nab the kingpins and mastermind of these illegal operations. I doubt it will happen because those kingpins are (allegedly) usually Datuks with political connections. MACC should seriously look into this.


Get real man, even Saudi Arabia has to allow illegal brothel dens for crime control reason.

Totally banning these massage parlours is effecting money circulation in the market because Thailand is nearby ready to accept these dirty money.

Jeremy Soong

If you want to get real, then legalise it. I pity those ladies from China, Vietnam, Thailand or Indonesia who are duped into flesh trade by the syndicate operated under the guise of massage parlour and feed those ladies with drugs to force them into prostitution. Will you get real if it happen to your sisters or your daughters? I still believe that there is a big syndication involving the so-called ‘enforcement parties’, otherwise why foreign students are involved, the ring leaders can never be charged, licences are given to those dubious operations…. This is one area that Penang should… Read more »


These massage parlours girls are not underage girls with no brain. How many massage parlour’s girls do you talk to? How many of them are forced into prostitute? Yes, there are forced prostitution in the underground brothel houses, but not on these licensed massage parlours. PRC or whatever massage girls are purely working for money. Underground brothel houses should be cracked down first. Learn from Singapore on how to manage “licensed” brothel and make sure no forced prostitution in these joints. No country can 100% stop prostitution, let manage it to minimize forced and child prostitution social problem. If my… Read more »


Looks like you have admited that you are the taiko of this industry.


Only those armchair critics fella still living in the closet.


As the Bird’s Nest production industry is highly profitable, licenses should be rotated between all interested parties instead of summarily prohibiting other latecomer owners disallowed from converting properties. For example, like gambling, existing owners will be permitted to operate for a number of years 5 years, or until once they have obtained a certain level of personal assets perhaps in the range of USD$20 million? Then other owners who are in viable but disallowed areas will be permitted to take over the currently functional and allowed ones. Unlike residences which they are not living in? And since they have sacrificed… Read more »


Just borrow from Singapore, some of the good points, what they have done to the Island city. Introduce these well planned developments in appropriate places to Penang. See how well they have combined the greenery into a concrete city!…nothing is original, humans learn from each other, except, the Umno ketuanan Melayu…


The first priority should be treating sewage water discharged into Batu Feringghi.

I saw this problem continued till today since early 90s.


On the Batu Feringgi beach and its night market, may I suggest to look Phuket’s Patong beach for some inspiration. It’s not far – an 8-hour convoy up-north in two or three cars of motivated planners and councillors should help.



One thing that always bogged me whenever I went back to Penang is the sorry and muddy state of Gurney Drive, esp. the stretch in front of the Gurney Plaza.

Do you by any chance know of any plan to spruce up that area?


The state government should consider reclaiming the affected stretch, but do it with proper environmental impact assessment this time. If fund is a problem, this can be initiated as a private initiative. Say, reclaim 100 hectares – the contractor takes 60 hectares, and the remaining 40 hectares (with the beachfront a must) goes to the state government. Strict guidelines required though. It’s a prime area, no contractor would want to miss the opportunity.


Dont worry there is plan by the government to reclaim the sea further out. Soon there will be no more seafront front for Gurney Drive.The seafront will be stretched further out parallel to the Tanjong Tokong seafront.


What else needs to be done to clean up Penang? Try the Middle Bank Kerapu grouper nesting site you mentioned in October 2010. Whats the status on that potentially valuable site? In fact if they manage to return Penang’s coast to the level of blueness you can still see in Langkawi today, that very same Kerapu breeding site could be with a bit of help, among the biggest tourist draws in Penang today. By the way even if crystal clear oceans are achievable, that still does not mean TERM LIMITS or ASSET DECLARATIONS or MALICIOUS COMPLIANCE over amendment of BY-LAWS… Read more »


Talking about cleanliness, I think it is not just about the overt physical cleanliness and tidiness of a place. Where Penang is concerned, there are two areas which I think the city council should pay more attention. One is the city’s drainage system, especially the drains around the city and the outskirts. If possible all drains should not only be well covered but have to be constantly cleansed (flushed). This not only ensures less smelly drains but also reduces insect and rodent breeding – an important health aspect. The other area is the clean appearance of hawkers or food handlers… Read more »



thanks a million for your thoughts.

my view is that state govt should rope you in. I know some of your ideas are not well receievd by the establishment but then its diversity of thoughts and ideas that will bring development sustainability to the island. Lets move away from the usual grandiose overinflated plans of the previous UMNO-led state govt.

Andrew I

Oh, you’re so unkind. We were led by HRH Koh …on cobbled streets and the longest buffet in the world. No wonder some people got so big.

Yeah, Anil’s doing a great job. A democracy is not a once every 5 years thingy.

Pinang Boy

I bet very soon Anil will receive many postings from his loyal Penang readers to defend the so-called ‘Penang heritage’ like the unlicensed cowboy town house at Batu Feringghi (for back packers). Then those Umno-controlled NGOs will again send black cake to LGE to complain that the malay traders are affected again.

How can Penang progress with such noise?

Those swiftlet breeders are inconsiderate lots with those artificial ‘bird call’ – a nuisance. The birds’ dropping are certainly a health hazards. What about the risk of bird flu from the swiftlets?

Andrew I

Getting rich from bird puke.

An empty building, some audio equipment and praying hard might earn you riches beyond your wildest dreams.

Quite a fool-proof way to make money, with minimal variable costs. A lot better than letting your money stagnate in a bank.

semyanya OK kot

Swiftlet breeders keep telling us how clean the birds are, and that the artificial noise “bird call” are not that loud. Their claims can easily be verified by insisting that they stay within the same buildigs as the birds.


I enjoy the night market at Batu Feringgi but I feel the railings along the walkway need a fresh coating. They r in such a dilapidated state, broken paint and rusty. The night market stalls need upgrading and probably standardization to look neat and tidy. Some words written in the stalls are lame and rude eg.no hanky panky, etc… I couldn’t fathom what it means though.


Why ban swiftlet breeding when you can regulate it? Regulate it to make sure the swiftlet breeder doesn’t pass opportunities cost e.g. pollution to the neighborhood. This will ensure a real and healthy market. One good example are USA heavily regulate rare earth mining. Now everyone know that rare earth are not cheap, China government pass the opportunity cost(radioactive pollutant) to its people for the sick of control the market. Now everyone start learn the real cost of rare earth. Isn’t all Pakatan rakyat state over crowed with federal government appointed servants? Just throw them on the failed. It is… Read more »