Race is on to grab Penang port


The race is on to grab Penang Port Sdn Bhd from public ownership as the spotlight falls on private corporations expressing interest. But is serious consideration being given to the Penang state government’s interest in taking over the port?

At first it was reportedly just Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary and parties close to him.  Now, the Edge reports that another consortium has entered the picture: Oriental Pearl Harbour Sdn Bhd.

Oriental Pearl Harbour has apparently submitted a preliminary proposal to the federal government. Its directors are Rosli Abdul Latif and Mohd Ramli Abu Bakar, a former Navy chief. No information on shareholders or accounts is available as the company was only registered this month.

The latest Edge makes no mention of the Penang state government’s interest in taking over the port.

The business weekly quotes sources as saying that Oriental Pearl Harbour is led by Siew Ka Wei, who is partnering firms under the China Shipping (Group) Co Ltd. The group includes China Cosco Holdings Co Ltd, which is involved in container shipping and terminal leasing and other firms involved in related fields. Another source points out to the Edge that the consortium would hold a majority stake (a figure of RM500 million was mentioned in the report) and the Malaysian government would hold a golden share; so there is “no danger of foreigners controlling local assets”. (I thought the upgrading work alone so far amounts to close to a billion ringgit? Will the port assets be properly valued at market price and not sold off cheaply to private corporations?)

Actually this issue is not just about foreign or local control. Rather it is about public vs private control of infrastructure, built using public funds, and that is vital for the economy, public transport and the state. What will become of the ferries – an important means of public transport with affordable fares – if a private corporation were to take over Penang port? Will the port itself be run in the best interests of Penang or will profit maximisation for the shareholders be the overriding objective?

Siew is the major shareholder of Ancom Bhd, Ancom Logistics Bhd and Nylex (M) Bhd. Ancom controls Red Berry Media, which owns Bernama TV, publishes newspapers and has billboard rights at KLIA.

Another company reportedly playing a role is PFI Marines Sdn Bhd, controlled by Rosli and Othman Talib, a former Penang police chief.

There is no good reason why the Penang state government cannot take over and manage the port, harness and hire expertise, and tap into available sources of internal and external funding.

Singapore’s port remains government owned and under public control as it is an integral part of the Singapore economy – just as Penang port plays a vital role in the economy not only of Penang but of the entire northern region.

This is how Singapore structures its port, according to the PSA’s website:

PSA was formerly the Port of Singapore Authority, a statutory board regulating, developing, operating and promoting the port of Singapore’s terminals. In 1996, PSA’s regulatory functions were handed over to the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore. PSA Corporation Limited was subsequently incorporated in 1997 as the corporate successor to the Port of Singapore Authority to manage and operate its terminals and related businesses. In December 2003, PSA International became the investment holding company for PSA’s businesses in Singapore and world-wide. PSA International is fully-owned by Temasek Holdings.

PSA’s operating entities are organised into five business regions – Southeast Asia, Middle East South Asia, Northeast Asia, Europe and Mediterranean, Americas – each headed by a regional chief executive officer responsible for its business performance. The regional CEOs report to the group CEO who is assisted by a small team of senior executives at the Corporate Centre.

Employing the finest talents in the industry, PSA delivers reliable and best-in-class service to its customers…

Notice, it remains solidly under government/public control and ownership.

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Jefri Mamak

Kontraktor Melayu dapat 100% daripada projek Jabatan Pengairan & Saliran (JPS) dan 98% nilai projek Jabatan Kerja Negeri (JKR) yang di bawah Peruntukan Kerajaan Negeri Pulau Pinang

Kontraktor Melayu dapat 100% daripada nilai projek JPS dan 98% daripada nilai projek JKR yang di bawah peruntukan kerajaan negeri. Projek JPS dan JKR di bawah dibiayai sepenuhnya oleh kerajaan negeri.


It is real difficult to say that the penang port will be profitable in the future.
If the Chinese really invest with the Thais to set up the Kra Canal then will the penang port still be viable.
But until that happens the port must be within the control of the state.


Why so many smart-alecks keep coming back with the Kra Canal idea!? China purposely project a cheap price tag of US$25 billions of making Kra canal. Well, the history track record told us, all 3rd world mega project, are never make it under “proposed budget”. It always balloon beyond imagination.

US$25 billion? Even US$150 billions are just to conservative when talk about scale of Kra canal.


Suppose. Just suppose Chinese interests were to developed the top end of Sumatra as a major port for the Indian Ocean and Andaman Sea region. Such a port will be a major transit point between West Asia & Europe and East Asia. This will kill Penang for sure. In the realpolitiks of the globalised world, Penang cannot afford to be a local political game.


And yet those BN flers wanted to build a bridge to link Melaka to Sumatra?


LBJ :Perhaps you should ask yourself one simple question,since the to build a port at north point of Sumatra are briliants
Why during the seafaring colonisation century, Netherland didn’t build a port to compete with British ruled Penang Island?


Umno’s NEP has made a selected cronies like Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary very very rich. (Some of them) are actually agents for umnoputeras (to fund their war chest?), but 95% of the malays are still not better off than the pre-Tun M days. Now you know why peple like Syed Mokhtar can continue to get rich and taking up all kinds of privatised projects presented by BN. They never play their part to enable the poor malays to step out of poverty. The urban malays should knwo this fact as the escalating cost of living courtesy of ‘Barang Naik’ strategy of… Read more »

tan, tanjong bungah

Hi Anil,

Why not your goodself, or any other NGO, start an online signature campaign for “Support Pg State Govt Bid for PPC takeover” ?

With such a takeover, the State Govt can always source for local talents and, if necessary foreign talents, to efficiently run PPC. The ultimate winners would be the rakyat, not the rent-seekers of UMNO and BN cronies!! Such rent-seekers are like vultures waiting to pounce on the piratisation of PPC, more so after taxpayers’ funds (running into billions RM) have been poured into the infrastructure, etc of the port thus far


anilnetto.com the place to start a historic catalyst. Why wait, Anil?


Queensland government recently sold off the state rail network. Guess what? The Bligh government shall be thrown out next state election, no two hoots about this. So if Fed Govt wants to continue selling off state assets under Pakatan govt, the rakyat should be wise enough to toss out the incompetent Fed goverment. Be wise and brave and independent.

K S Ong

Penang state government has shown its sincerity and capability in administering the state for the benefit of the people, with sterling results to show.

It would be a pity if Federal government takes the usual privatization process to benefit cronies at the expense of the people. We have seen enough of direct negotiations despite promises of transparency.

I believe Penang state CM has the passion to emulate the success of ports of Hong Kong or Singapore, if only he is given the chance.


I am not a bit worried about if Penang Port fall into private hands, I consider it temporarily ownership until Pakatan wins federal power.

Andrew I

Employing the finest talents in the industry, PSA delivers reliable and best-in-class service to its customers…

In the meantime, more brain drain:


Yup, it’s all fact based, the msm.

Gerakan K

Pick the local one.

Beware of China economic invasion !!!


Gerakan K

No share from YTL? YTL has been gobbling UK Water plant, Sinkapore Power and recently Jordan. Just like us, we are poking at each other. So what China invasion? Parkson has opened stores in China and many Penang people are opening food stores in China too


Yeah, go on and dream in your coconut shell till the next century. Just listened to the BBC Radio Live and heard that the Indians (India) in a primary school learning Putonghua and singing Chinese cultural songs! They are already playing catch up and it’s never too late. Want to know why? Great Indian leaders with great, unbiased vision to share a Greater Asia with a former enemy, China. (China and India fought a border war in 1962). And they sent numerous IT technical professionals to China recently, a win-win strategy. They know China lags behind India in IT but… Read more »


Penang state government cannot take over and manage the port, because it is under Pakatan Government. Period.


Anil: Also, a lot of public money has been spent on infrastructure and upgrading: will this be properly valued when selling to private corporations? See here, Anil. These goons don’t know how to use abacus, so do they exactly know what is profit or loss? Who the hell care when Ah Kong’s money is treated as guaranteed free-flowing money to be splurged or leeched until kindom’s come. They … only care for their deep leech-infested pockets. Do they know what is economics of profit maximization to recover investment costs? Nah! As moo_t mentioned about strikes, imagine one … fine day… Read more »


I must clarify, I’m not against hired foreign expertise, foreign resource. But I must point out that, a master plan must be drawn to transit knowledge to LOCAL TRAINING CENTER.

With so many port, and a MEGA SCANDAL, can anyone tell me , where the hell is the higher education center to train lots of manager to oversee various ports operations?

Mahathir can’t answer that, Abdullah cannot and Najib will give you a blank face.


Let’s go back to 1970. That’s about the starting point of the great national education overhaul. The start of our educated nationals’ destiny. The quality henceforth was determined from then on, regressing as time seem to deteriorate our standards rather than we the culprits deteriorating ourselves. The Jaguh of education planning and visionaries were a plenty and kept on ‘evolving’ the system to suit the occasion and emotion of nationalistic fervor, indifferent to the real world realities. To say there are no excellent managers is denying the truth. Just call HR talent search agencies, tell them you want locals and… Read more »


Agree, private sector does has plentiful supplies of talents. Alas, the brain drain may not go to public sector, they may go overseas. That’s the concern. Brain drain is not a big issue if the policies maker anticipate the issue, work around it and setup polytechnics etc training center to replenish those personnel. Malaysia federal policies maker are pretty backward. I am quite intrigue Malaysia insane tertiary education putting too much effort on “universities”. In fact, BN closed door, closing mindset tertiary education policies has failed Malaysia to enable a competitive, variable choices of tertiary education. In 1st world country,… Read more »


Now a day , even “ask correct question” are not common.
To think,one must learn to ask question.

OTH, as Anil point out, there is no such things as “creativity course”. No lecturer can teach “creativity”. Creativity are product of critical thinking and analytical thinking.


Penang port, need a VISIONARY to run the port, not RENT SEEKER! What is the freaking problem about “foreigner own” or “local own”? Bare in mind that PROTON & Hicom are “local own” , but the blackhole sucks billions of public funding to make it run. Modern port use complicate software, hardware. I wonder, how many of these can be locally source? If you can’t train lots of local talent to handle the port, it is rubbish to talk about “local own”. If the foreign key worker go on strike, are “national owned” going to save the port? Did Malaysia… Read more »


I wonder what is wrong with this Oriental Pearl Harbour proposal that gets Anil up and jumping. If China Shipping (Group) Co Ltd. and China Cosco Holdings Co Ltd can be brought into Penang Harbour, it is a good thing. They can make use of Penang to expand the shipping business coming into Penang. This will revitalize Penang Harbour. This is big time business and good for Penang. Penang people should be excited.


Anil. I would agree with you if it was 20-30 years ago.
There were many good ports men and women in PPC. Many were graduates of USM and Penang born. Today, these people are gone.

I would prefer to sell it to global players who could re-build the expertise of a new generation. The port is not going to run away.