Tunnel-highways: Is Penang moving backwards?


Former international banker Dr Lim Mah Hui, a Penang Steering Committee member, made this presentation during a public dialogue with the Penang Chief Minister.

His presentation titled ‘Are we moving forward to 21st Century or moving backward to 20th Century in our transportation policies?’ can be found here.

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syed buadbib

Ferry still very slow. Komtar area congestion, Burmah Rd congestion, Pulau Tikus, Beach St, Campbell St, …….
Enforcement still lacking. Drivers still leave cars illegally causing 3 lane to ONE single lane.
Mindset needs to change first. Adopt S’pore parking, enforcement, change civic education in PG.
Channel Tunnel is the only way to move forward at this point in time, as all other alternatives won’t work now.

Sima Yi

I think many ppl overlook one thing. Population Growth.
So its inevitable that we will have more cars on the road.
Efficient public transport alone can not absorb all transportation requirement.
Unless we suppress population growth.
So look at the big picture, from every angle, every position.
Perhaps we should encourage Sim City games to our citizens.

Sammy Boy

Every household has more than one car nowadays.

Students now drive to school once that can qualify for driving licence.

BN’s policy encourage car ownership to enrich its coffer.

This is the root cause of all problems including traffic congestion and pollution, not roads or tunnel.


I dont think the solution by increasing the parking charges, penalties for those who drives to work during peak hour etc…is fair unless we already have a transport system silimar to that of Singapore’s.
Btw, I am not in favour of the tunnel project either.

Gerakan K

Anil: “Former international banker Dr Lim Mah Hui” Wow, that sound impressive !!! But I checked the ‘banker’ definition, hmm banker = An officer or owner of a bank or group of banks An officer of a bank = customer service personnel or assistant manager ??? Hmm, not that impressive any more. Moving forward or backward with tunnel + highways ??? I think it is moving into unmitigated traffic disaster. However, due to LGE popularity and anti-BN sentiment in Penang, the tunnel + highways will go ahead as announced. Not only tunnel + highways, but more tunnels and highways too… Read more »


You are right, Penang need more tunnel beside the cross channel tunnel.
Yes we are all for change. The word now is CHANGE.


We need to vote in a real working,honest and responsible state government with good policies to prevent PR Triumph Tower becoming a reality.

Plain Truth

Perhaps this good Dr. Lim will enlighten us as to his mode of transport to work. Is it by bus or does he cycles to work ? Walking perhaps?

……….and by the way, I am not in favour of the tunnel idea either.


FYI Dr Lim cycles to work everyday. He is one who
leads by example.

Penang Ah Pek

Hmm…LGE should transfer him to MPSP Butterworth.

Lead by example? I admit he is really good in protest. A bit better than BN racist protest.

Plain Truth

That is a good start. Perhaps he will care to let us know how many of his fellow objectors take public transportation as well.

Entry charges to a particular section of Georgetown at whatever time is definitely a no no. If implemented, then only the rich will have access.

The poor do pay their share of the taxes don’t they? Just take a look at the tax component of the car prices.


Move all the factories to Butterworth. Penang island for tourism & leisure only…….after 10 years – more people will get used to it and stay in Butterworth.


LGE’s greedy developer buddies will faint at the mere thought of this idea as this will cause them to lose billions.


Exactly how I feel. Agreed that trams would be great for George Town and the heritage site but an MRT would be more suitable for long distance connections. I doubt a tram would be able to move masses all the way to places like SPU, Batu Kawan, Bayan Lepas, Balik Pulau. An integration would be good. But all that seems like a dream for now.


Don’t doubt the ability of trams to move people. Many East Europeans cities are the living proof that the trams are very successful in moving passengers up to 15kms from the city centre.

king kong

No need to look into European model – Just go to HK. Their Trams are very fast and agile – small and narrow in terms of very busy city. European always take things slowly as compare to Asians. Yet in HK Central to Shaukeiwan it takes more than 1 hours even though the trams are very frequent. Good for tourists when he just want to spend his time away but not for locals going to work unless it is a few stops away.

SL Wong (@wong8898)

How often the bedfellow take public transport & cycling to work? I bet NEVER.

Can he assure the building of tunnel & highways is a reverse gear to Penang? I bet he dare not say it.


How often the bedfellow take public transport & cycling to work? I bet NEVER.

Correct unless the govt make cars so expensive and must come with a certificate of entitlement just like Singapore.

Sima Yi

That’s a big IF.
If PR takes putrajaya then mass transit system is the solution.
If PR wins in Penang but lose in federal, settle for second best in the interim.
If PR lose in Penang also, the project is PR’s goodbye gift to the Penang ppl.

A bird in hand is worth many in the bush.

Sima Yi

1. I think riding bike in our weather is not practical unless it becomes
our culture to shower first before starting work or class etc.
2. Best solution is mass transit system but too costly to implement.
Not enough land above ground. Underground too expensive.
3. Ferry – good idea but unsure who controls the port?
So I guess with such a limited parameters, have to settle with second best.
Unless some brilliant minds out there can come up with a plan that can
take care of Cost, Political Minefield & Practicality.


I agree. If there is no change in Putra Jaya, don’t expect any improvement in Penang with respect to public transport because over the years, the right and ability of the local government, even to solve traffic congestion on municipal and state roads, had gradually and consistently been chipped away by the federal authorities. Even a bus route in Penang has to be decided by the ministry of entrepreneur and cooperative development in Putra Jaya because it is that ministry which issues all the licenses for public transport services.

Penang Ah Pek

Yeah. So proud even the foreign tourist label Penang bus service during Gerakan goverment as “Animal class”.

If those “Experts” are so expert, why we Penang ppl have to receive such a honorable title of “Animal class”. U still trust those “Experts” that to build tunnel in 20 yrs later?

Here say support LGE, there object the tunnel. Like telling your wife I love u but I don’t like your face. If u trust Lim Mah Hui, Penang will surely backward for 50 yrs. No wonder ppl call him BN bedfellowm.



For future planning, the tunnel should be a rail tunnel rather than a motor vehicle tunnel. The island definitely needs an LRT system from Bayan Lepas to Georgetown, and to Butterworth to move people. Use of Tunnel Boring Machines can allow deep tunneling under the city to avoid damage to old buildings and surface disruption, whereas the undersea portion could be constructed with Immersed Tube method.

More highways & road tunnels will only compound the traffic situation after several years.


More appropriate a rail and road tunnel for light vehicle (car, van etc, not heavy vehicle like trailers, lorry etc). Simply put a rail tunnel would not be economy wise as it is within our own country unlike UK and France. Anil, it seem that your objection has change somewhat. LGE is doing right. Looking 20 years ahead. Hong Kong cross channel tunnel was built 30 years ago and now it is congested. Sometime NGO are nuts when they said we will only need the tunnel 20 years later. Imagine what would be the situation the next 10 years let… Read more »

Grey Knight (@SirGreyKnight1)

Dr Lim’s assertions are absolutely spot on. Due to his popularity among Penangites, the CM has the opportunity to create real change. Will LGE grasp it or will he listen to the whims of the businessmen/developers whispering in his ear?


The primary congestion happens at peak hours. This is contributed obviously by the working folk. As the industrial sector is the primary employer, i suggest that their input be sought. I would suspect that only a reliable, consistent rail network would be an acceptable alternative. Personally, cycling in a tropical climate to work and back for those living over 10kms does not sound practicle. Assuming a reliable rail network is available on the island; there still is the influx of vehicles from the mainland to the industrial hubs of the island. Another rail link perhaps. Lastly theres the 2 brigdes… Read more »


True but we must bear in my that the ferry service is controlled by Penang Port which is under federal control while the tunnel is a state initiative. I am sure you can see that the two govts don’t work well together. At the end of the day, unless we see a change in govt at either levels, the state does what it can.