Some questions about the quiet ‘corporatisation’ of Penang Botanic Garden

Structure at Penang Botanic Garden
Penang Botanic Garden

Update (15 November): The bill to corporatise the Penang Botanic Garden was passed yesterday with barely any prior publicity.

One BN state assembly rep reportedly questioned why the general manager reports to the chairman (who will be the chief minister) rather than to the board of directors.

Concern was expressed that the bill allows for the collection of fees: a DAP exco member conceded that fees should not be charged for entrance into the gardens; but then he suggested that fees could be charged for a certain ‘product’ within the gardens.

Uh-oh, if the Penang Hills Corporation is the model to be used, then we have reason to be concerned.

Original post (14 November):

With the Penang public largely unaware, moves are afoot to ‘corporatise’ the Penang Botanic Garden and turn it into a Penang State Park (Botanic) Corporation.

A committee looking into a special area plan for the garden had made several recommendations after holding public hearings and discussions a few years ago.

One of the recommendations was to turn it into a corporatised body like Penang Hills Corporation. The idea was to give the garden greater autonomy in decision-making, staffing and salary scales, and to reduce red tape.

Funds used to come from the federal government (for development, later via the ministry of tourism) and the state government (for operations and wages).

Garden staff used to be appointed by the federal Public Services Department and then seconded to the Botanic Garden Department. Recently the directors have come from the Agriculture Department.

In the past only one graduate was appointed. Several more were appointed more recently, but these lacked experience in botany and horticulture and were graduates in other fields. The lack of experienced botanists was a major shortcoming.

The state government resorted to hiring consultants as contract officers.

After the ‘leaning arches’ fiasco, the federal government said it would not release any more development funds without a masterplan for the garden. Hence the move for a special area plan for the garden. Presumably with the controversial cable car plan in mind, the SAP for Penang Hill was believed to be linked to the SAP for the garden.

With corporatisation, which is separate from the special area plan, more experienced people in relevant fields can be recruited.

In the early 1990s, an accounting firm reviewed an idea to privatise the garden. The plan was not accepted. Some are worried that corporatisation now could be a prelude to privatisation – though Penang Hills Corporation could be a more likely model.

While the intentions may be noble this time around, what are the safeguards to prevent certain parties from commercialising the garden and turning it into a for-profit venture?

Some questions arise:

  • Will the corporation be a non-profit or for-profit venture?
  • What is the financial model and plan for the corporation? What are the revenue sources?
  • What about the alarming plan for a cable car at the last moment – a move that was not among the recommendations by the committee? Is a base station for cable cars planned within the garden? If the cable car was included at the last moment, shouldn’t the entire Special Area Plan be put up for public display and public feedback again? Does the corporatisation proposal allow for a cable car station in the garden?
  • What happened to the Special Area Plan for the garden (which is separate from the corporatisation proposal)? The report was submitted to the state government two years ago. Has it been accepted or rejected? (The need for SAPs was used as an excuse for holding back the Penang Island Local Plan.)
  • Who will become chairman of the corporation? What are the checks and balances to ensure that the chairman and the board cannot do what they like with the garden? How will they be accountable to the public? How do we ensure that a single person does not end up dominating decisions on the garden?
  • From what I hear, the proposed corporation allows for sale of assets. What are the checks and balances in place to prevent any sale of land in the expanded 580-acre garden?
  • Will the nature of the botanic garden be changed into a “park”?
  • Will more cafes and theme park-like attractions be allowed in the future, turning it into a “tourist attraction” with a corresponding rise in visitor numbers?
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So now the Selangor Islamic Council’s lawyer thinks we should have the Bible translated by DBP over the word “Allah.” What next in this country?

Who is this MAIS to tell Christians how to translate their own Holy Book? This is unacceptable because mistakes can easily occur if translations are not done by experts.

MAIS should just leave this translation work to the Christians as it does not concern their religion, does it?

tommy cay

Japan has many many beautiful gardens, temples etc and most of them requires entrance tickets. We can try with this idea in Penang, initially only free but if more and more projects and staff in future, ticket selling is reasonable…


On the 19th of October, reported that a user was selling the personal data of MILLIONS of Malaysians on their forum. Shortly after, the article was taken down on the request of the MCMC, only to put up again, a couple of days later. Lowyat later reported that a total of 46.2 Million phone numbers were exposed, and the data included IC numbers, Addresses, IMSI, IMEI and SIM numbers as well. In short, a lot of data from a lot of people. So Malaysia joined the ranks of The Phillipines, Turkey and South Africa to have data on their… Read more »

PolitiScheiss (a.k.a. IT.Scheiss)

Who knows. ‘Such prime land lying idle’, say the capitalist property developers. ‘In our hands, we can turn this gem of land into a goldmine with high-rise condominiums, perhaps with a name like Kondo Botanik, in with apartments going for RM2 or RM 3 million each’. ‘Getting hold of this prime land, which is state land will be difficult as it will also come up against public opposition, especially from those pesky NGOs, so we first have to convince our executive committee to gradually let go of the land, first through corporatisation, next through privatisation and then it can be… Read more »


The unsold completed residential units rose by 40% to 20,807 units (worth RM12.26 billion) in the first half of 2017 (1H17) compared to the same period last year.

Condominiums and apartments costing over RM500,000 dominate the overhang homes in Malaysia.

PolitiScheiss (a.k.a. IT.Scheiss)

Yes. This is a nationwide issue, in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor as well. Whilst Kuala Lumpur is under the BN Federal government, Selangor including Petaling Jaya is under a Pakatan state government and either way no difference. When Pakatan parties were in opposition in Selangor, they came out on the side of the people but when in power in Selangor for nine years now, they have shown themselves to be not much different from the earlier BN government of Selangor. Now MCA has come out on the side of Petaling Jaya residents. But whether they will remain on the… Read more »


Rumour has it that most DAP politicians love a particular song from ABBA called “Money Money Money”. Anyone here like this song? Lol


What about Abba’s ‘Waterloo’ for BN at GE14?


Jerome@DAP zombie,

As the former DAP member, Shamsher Singh Thind wrote recently, “PH in its current form is destined for failure”. His own words ya, not me. So rest assured that it won’t be a ” Waterloo” for BN next GE.


Rumour, you are spreading rumour. Of course no shame is in your vocabulary. Where is your Singh now? …


Well said. Capitalism depends on collusion (fascism), exploiting public wealth at public risk, and a bribe-friendly international financial system. If one attempt fails, they bide their time and try again with minor changes. If they cannot even give a credible statement (explanation, or future plans) on for the floods, mudslides, related losses and other disasters, how will they handle an undersea tunnel? Can a government that cannot elimiate deadly potholes regulate and oversee a nuclear plant? Yes, I am referring to the next level of government.


Real estate veteran Ernest Cheong predicted (once again!) that the property market will take a terrible hit in 2018, with developers and house owners facing one of the toughest times to find buyers, leading to a market crash as consumers do not have the financial capacity to own homes with some failing to even pay their monthly instalments.

“The panic (within developers and house owners) might start after Chinese New Year in February or later if the government decides to pump in money to strengthen the market,” he told FMT.


Shiess, Lucky you. If no developer or development in Selangor, you will be still staying along the border as half thai. Now staying in Selangor like petaling or Subang, jungle and forest land are cleared for building houses. If one does not like some development better go back and stay along the border.


My condolences to MCA youth leader.. As mentioned earlier, old heritage houses could be a killer, a fire trap. In past, we do not have so many combustible and inflammable material. Also less thieves and being small, everyone knows everyone and doors and windows have less or no padlock. See pg forum remains dumb and silent. Now modern management and organisation structure, we move ahead trying to get efficiency, value for money and better organised. No one complains or complement free shuttle buses from state which had to pay to the central gomen as they control everything. In China, thai,… Read more »


With so many electrical appliances in each household, the risk of a fire is always there and the onus is on houseowners to make sure their homes are safe.

It is also vital that each household is equipped with the three most basic fire safety equipment – smoke detector, fire extinguisher and fire blanket.

anthony louis

Remember the highrise fie in London? It STARTED in a old fridge,the rest of the fule came from within the flats. There are so many combustbiles IN the flats/houses-You are correct.You need to have a smoke detector and a fire extinguisher.In germany if you have a fire in the house /flat and there is no smoke detector, you can kiss your insurance claims like smoke-


Starting June next year, it will be mandatory for all new homes in Singapore to be installed with smoke detectors, also known as Home Fire Alarm Devices (HFADs).


Penang Forum too engrossed in syiok-sendiri topics and has ignored the plights of those living in potential fire hazard heritage or cluster homes.

Our condolences to fire victims.

May Margie’s prayers be extended to those in griefs.


Does your boss a.k.a. Lim Gone Eng … have any … or not? You guys are the state government of the day for almost 10 freaking years, yet every now and then, Zoro aka Shriek keeps mentioning the bygone era of Gerakan. You know how to write the word shame in Chinese or not?…


You orso no shame and wants amno to cone back? You know the English shame and yet your boss no 1 has no shame.


Zoro a.k.a. Shriek,

Ask your “Melaka reject” boss to resign first la since he is charged with corruption in the first place.


People like you no shame to find fault and charge people. Most opposition are charged by your boss and paymaster


Yes 10 years longer than freaking 65 years with Amno. You love every minute and sec of the 65 years.


NO SHAME, to the #1 Engineer of putting in jail a popular politician accused of backside nonsense for paying him a PR hospital visit recently. Very thick face indeed!
No shame b’cos of an apparent threat to his position comes another nightmare GE?
Or will it be another NO Shame Plotting of Sodomy 3?
No shame to all those in BeeEnd including the #1 Engineer & no shame engineers for the no shame deeds which Allah is watching very closely their very evil deeds.


New law on Botanic Gardens queried in Penang state assembly Read more at The State Legislative Assembly passed a bill last night to allow the 133-year-old Penang Botanic Gardens to be corporatised, but the move was questioned by the opposition (BN) and backbenchers. Muhamad Farid Saad (BN-Pulau Betong) called for the bill, tabled by state executive councillor Jagdeep Singh Deo (DAP-Dato Keramat) be postponed and for the clauses in it to be reviewed and refined. “Even the existing pre-war houses in Penang have disappeared. They were not taken care of properly and the same goes for the Botanic Gardens.… Read more »


Ron 95 up another 6 sen per litre tomorrow 16 Nov. RON 97 up 7 sen.

Semua Barang Naik Hanya Hujan Turun???


RON95 up by 7 sen to RM2.38 per litre while RON97 up by 6 sen to RM2.66 per litre.

Terima Kasih BN.

Duri, Anne

If corporatized it should be a non-profit with association with the University. A professional botanist/horticulturalist should be on the board, as should appropriate NGO’s (Penang Heritage Trust, Penang World Music Festival, conservation groups). The Penang State government should allocate a proportion of the amount they do now to maintenance (roads, sanitation, etc.) recognizing that the gardens act as an important watershed buffer and is essential to the water supply and to prevent flooding. The area could be important for training students in a variety of important areas…forestry, engineering, architecture and conservation.


They did it quietly, just like the Speedy Gonzales Fridge Train of Penang Hill. The same with the Tilting Arch in front of Botanic Garden. Before today, they still did it quietly with Botanic Garden to corporatise it. Quietly so no Penangites can come to know about it. But then, did the CAT CM know about all these quietly endeavours??? Or should I presume with money glowing from the corporatisation idea, he might as well keep it to himself quietly, lest Pg Forum, FOPBGS, MNS, Sahabat Alam Malaysia, CAP & many others with great concerns breath down his neck. Quietly,… Read more »

Lim Kah Cheng

Where are the safeguards to prevent sale of the garden or change its purpose as a botanical garden????


Expect more green lung areas to be stripped bare in the name of development and modernization, and those who object will be labelled as “anti development only good at providing bullets for opposition”. In the end the public has no say in whatever the state want to do . 305 millions spent on undersea tunnel study report that has brought no benefit whatsoever to the penangites, and the tiny green lung left in the botanic park need to be corporatized because the state want to make big profit to pay for more useless study reports in the future. In the… Read more »


When monkeys in botanical gdn are getting more, you want them to get more aggressive and attack visitors? Even no development, why more monkeys
Meanwhile the roads are clogged with cars. Will pg lang give up driving cars? Will central gomen introduces electric buses like Shenzhen and xiamen ban motorcycles and use elect bikes?


Marketing tourism gurus can promote Penang Botanical gardens monkeys as See no evils, hear no evils, speak no evils species.

Nagathisen Katahenggam

The penang hill model might be viable with certain privatised services within the park,as long they can revitalise the area, but no to entry fees


You can dream on. Until you regret too late!
Never trust politicians making corporatisation push so quietly.
Do you still get it???

Khoo Soo Hay

Right now the Botanical Garden and the ‘Youth Park’ are accessible by the public free of charge. It should remain so, as part of the privilege of living in Penang state. If corporatized with better management, one can expect revenue must be raised for its upkeep. We may end up buying a ticket to go for our morning walk! The main idea of a botanical garden is the preservation of plants, and serves as a research centre and propagation of the rich natural fauna and flora of our tropical heritage. At present the garden streams are not being properly cleaned,… Read more »


Very well said Khoo. The last thing we want to see is the commercialisation of the garden.


The authorities can impose a deposit on all those bringing in any package: food, drink, tissue, etc. This can be returned after verifying that the user left no rubbish behind.

Small motors produce the most pollution by far compared to road vehicles, poisoning especially their users. In descending order, the leading ones are leaf blowers, lawn mowers and 2-stroke motorcycles.


Orwell’s 1984


Communications and Multimedia Minister Salleh Said Keruak said the internet has become the swing factor in elections as politics and political campaigns are now more dependable on the online and electronic media.

So will be influential in the coming election.