PICC – a re-run of the unhappy Pisa saga?


The Penang Island Municipal Council (MPPP) has reported a record suplus of RM49 million for 2009 (RM20 million in 2008). But instead of making available more financial resources for essential services and amenities, the MPPP may be forced to fritter away its funds on the RM50 million Penang International Convention Centre (PICC) project.

More concerns have been raised by various quarters over PICC. What will happen to the Penang International Sports Arena (Pisa) during the construction and building of the PICC? What will happen to both Pisa and PICC when Ivory and IJM builds their own better convention centres? How does Penang plan to bring participants for events at PICC when only limited international flights come into Penang? Why would event managers want to come to PICC when KL, Bangkok and Singapore have better convention centres? What is the point of building an unattractive PICC without ancillary services at such a small location?

How much does it cost MPPP annually to maintain Pisa and the aquatic centre? What about repairs that have not been done for years? The aquatic centre apparently cannot be used due to aย  lack of maintenance and Penang has to send its swimmers to train in Ipoh even when the centre is not leaking. We shouldn’t just talk about possible exhibitions at PICC – show us the feasibility studies, assuming they have been done. If not, how can anyone run the MPPP and the state government without feasibility studies?

Pisa and the aquatic centre were built on PDC land with MPPP funds amounting to RM110 million. The Penang Development Corporation (PDC) was supposed to run both but, from what I hear, it failed miserably. So these venues were then contracted out to a private company to run. Not quite sure about the details of the contract, but from what I hear, the MPPP pays a few thousand ringgit to the company to maintain the place and the company’s profits from events is shared with the MPPP. But the MPPP may be getting a raw deal out of Pisa as major maintenance such as lift maintenance and painting is apparently borne by the Council. (The contract with the company has now expired and is now extended on a month-to-month basis pending a state government decision on what to do with Pisa, according to a source.)

Some questions regarding Pisa:

  • How much does MPPP earn annually as its share of profits from the private company managing Pisa?
  • How much does MPPP incur on maintenance on Pisa and the aquatic centre annually?
  • Who collects the car-parking fees in Pisa?

These questions are highly pertinent because PICC could end up like Pisa. The state government is making MPPP bear the costs of PICC – but after it is constructed, who will manage and bear the costs and who will earn the profit, if at all there is a profit?

What is the game plan in the name of transparency? Given the problems faced by Pisa and other projects, why are we using the same consultant/architect? Have we not learnt from Pisa?

It is great that the MPPP has tightened up on “leakages” and is now more efficient. But what is the point of a surplus in the MPPP’s budget when the Council is scrimping on improving basic amenities and services such as roads, pavements, public markets, street lighting, enforcement teams, and computerisation – while splashing its funds on the PICC instead?

Please concentrate on MPPP’s core activity – which is improving local council services to the wider public – rather than attending to a convention centre. Don’t squander ratepayers’ money on the PICC.

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Phan Gaik Cher

LGE, you are throwing away scarce resources in building a white elephant that nobody wants. Despite all the reasons given you are repeating mistake of previous govt. Wake up buddy if you wanna win in the GE. You have got to have your ears to the ground and know what Penangites want.

Gamma Ray

What are MPPP`s core function. Why are they not paving the roads, clearing the rubbish etc. Dont built for the sake of … Go and talk to all the hoteliars and get their feedback. As usual lar build first an d then worry later. Typical BN mentality. Hope DAP is not falling into the trap. ASK the million dollaR QUESTION FIRST. DO WE REALLY NEED IT? What is the income projection for the next 5 years etc. LGE , you are an accountant by training …..

Anthony Tan

Alamak! Here we go again on this subject. I thought this was done for good a few months back. Those who are in the MICE (Meeting Incentive convention Exhibition) business are for it but those who are not will be against it. Private developers like Ivory and IJM have plans to add a convention centre to their projects but are they building the right one that can meet the needs of the industry? Some of such add on to developement projects have not been successful than those purpose build ones. One successful one worth mentioning is the Mid Valley in… Read more »


My kid does synchronized swimming in PISA. We go PISA at least 5 days a week. 1. normally parking is free. when there is an event,suddenly parking is not free. dont know the fees go to who. 2. exhibition hall not ‘busy’ during previous Govt. now averagely 1 exhibition in 3 weeks. each exhibition covers for averagely 3 days. exceptions 1 week long. 3. during exhibition, very very short of parking bays. during normal days – alot of people exercising, brisk walking, taichi, yogo, linedancing and berlepak ๐Ÿ˜‰ 4. Penevent tries to do a good job in management. Kudos to… Read more »

Approving Authorities

Good questions.

You should also be asking who owns the private company that was given the contract to manage Pisa especially if you are claiming that ” MPPP may be getting a raw deal out of Pisa “.

Some transparency here please.


Well said Anil. Can YB Malik or CM please provide the answers?

PR Kid

Wondering who gets to collect the parking fees every time the PC Fair is held?


I post the question to Anil once but he censored it.

Maybe Anil got a cut or something ? ๐Ÿ™‚


And no, I donโ€™t get a cut!

LOL ! Relax, brother ! ๐Ÿ˜€

That was meant to be a joke. Perhaps next time I’ll use [joke] [/joke] to mark it clearly. ๐Ÿ˜€