Rate hikes usher in Seberang Perai’s new ‘city’ status

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Much ado about “city” status being conferred on Seberang Perai (mainland Penang). But then ahead of the big day on 16 September, the council sent out notices of its intention to hike assessment rates (cukai pintu) – though residents could still appeal.

Some background info first:

Seberang Perai or Province Wellesley was originally administered from Penang Island in the 19th Century.

In 1913, mainland Penang was divided into three rural district boards (northern, central and southern) and the Butterworth Town Board.

These three local boards were upgraded to district councils in 1952 and the next year, the Bukit Mertajam Town Council was set up as well.

But by 1961, the Butterworth and Bukit Mertajam town councils were absorbed into the district councils.

In 1974, the three district councils were merged under the Seberang Perai Local Government Management Board. And with the passing of the Local Government Act in 1976, the board was renamed the Seberang Perai Municipal Council. And now in 2019, it has been turned into a city council.

I don’t think the merger of all these district and town councils in the mid-1970s was a great idea. With the merger, the single Seberang Perai council now covers 751 sq km, making it the largest area under a single council in Malaysia.

What not many realise is that this means the Seberang Perai City Council has to cover an area larger than the size of Singapore (725 sq km)!

Even though Singapore is smaller, it has five “community development councils” as well as town councils, making them more responsive to local issues. (That said, Singapore’s population is almost seven times larger than Seberang Perai’s.)

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The news that mainland Penang was to be conferred “city status” was dampened by notices of an impending assessment rate hike sent out to some homes. For instance, one house on the mainland has been given notice of a 22% hike in rates.

Is there a need for such hefty hikes, which will earn the council an extra RM40m in revenue – especially at this time of economic uncertainty and gloom?

That would depend on answers to two main questions:

a) Is the council in dire straits and running a deficit?

b) Is the added income going to be well spent?

Looking at a), the Seberang Council actually managed to post a surplus of RM6m in 2018, after incurring deficits in the two previous years. It managed this after raising its revenue by RM30m in 2018.

But for 2019, it is expecting a deficit of RM25m, based on its budget, which is projecting a RM10m increase in budgeted expenditure compared to the 2018 actual figure.

Which brings us to b) – is the added RM40m income from the assessment rate hikes going to be well spent? Is it going to be spent on projects like sprucing up low-cost and low-medium cost flats, many of which look shabby and badly in need of a coat of paint and more thorough maintenance. Few would object to that.

So let’s take look at a couple of the budgeted expenditure allocations for 2019:

  • CCTV – RM2.5m: Why do we need to keep spending on CCTVs? Is this a priority?
  • “Smart City” computer stuff (“perkakasan dan perisian komputer sistem maklumat berpusat” or centralised information system computer fittings or something like that) – RM4.1m: What on earth is this? How essential is this?

Now let us look at a few of the more controversial upcoming projects for 2020-2022 and my comments:

  • Fitting and maintaining CCTV cameras – RM2.5m: More CCTV cameras? Are we going to end up a Big Brother surveillance state? Has there been a proper study on the effectiveness of these cameras in reducing crime? Do you feel any safer since the installation of these CCTVs?
  • “Cyber Counter dan Call Centre” – RM5m: What is this? Do we really need such a counter and call centre?
  • A convention centre in Bandar Perda RM30m: Why is the local council building a convention centre, especially when I am told there are already two other convention centres on the mainland: one in Seberang Jaya and another in Batu Kawan?

Few would object if assessment rate hikes result in tangible improvements felt by the majority, especially the bottom 40%.

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But a convention centre, a “call centre”, vague IT spending and more CCTVs? From what I hear, there have been rumblings of discontent about some of these budgeted expenses.

I believe Seberang Perai residents would be better served if the council or some of its services were decentralised like before so that it becomes more responsive to local needs like in Singapore. From what I read, Singapore decentralised its section dealing with complaints about HDB flats from a centralised HDB centre to its local councils.

Raising mainland Penang to “city” status allows the government to show that its assessment rates are still lower than city councils like Kota Kinabalu and Shah Alam – but then those are state capitals whereas mainland Penang is not.

In fact, all the action is focused on Penang Island, including the extravagant transport plan. Mainland Penang has been largely left out under the first phase of the contractor/developer-inspired “Penang Transport Master Plan” – a backward plan if ever there was one. For the sake of argument, why is mainland Penang being marginalised in this mega transport plan?

The other crucial question is what is the point of having city councils when mayors and councillors remain unelected and unaccountable to this day. So unaccountable are they that few ordinary folks know the mayor’s name, let alone the identity of their city councillors.

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Lim Goh Poh
Lim Goh Poh
18 Sep 2019 8.00am

Excellent reporting by Anil on local issues with good recommendations eg learn from Singapore after Anil’s field trip there.
Ratepayers do not mind if MBPP or MBSP can spinsor Anil on Lawat Sambil Belajar tripd overseas to come back enhance quality and productivity of gov agencies.

Lim Goh Poh
Lim Goh Poh
18 Sep 2019 11.58am

Overuse of CCTV to monitor may be abused to infringe upon human rights.
Penang crime rate improve with CCTV?
CM Chow pls furnish data to justify hefty spending on CCTV at expense of ratepayers.

glissantia
glissantia
18 Sep 2019 7.46pm
Reply to  Lim Goh Poh

Outdoor and other overt spying have been quite useless elsewhere in (i) resolving or reducing common types of crime, let alone terrorism (ii) deterring violent enforcers [Ava Kofman 2017]. It serves mainly to [Michael Lind 2012] (i) intimidate the public (ii) profiteer (iii) exonerate those responsible for public safety. “Facial recognition” remains abysmal in accuracy [US ACLU c. 2018]; it fails to classify about 15% of those monitored correctly [Guardian 2017], partly due to the racist nature of the underlying data. Moreover, there are simply too many cameras to monitor. Some are dummies. Anyway, what is the relevance to the… Read more »

Lim Goh Poh
Lim Goh Poh
19 Sep 2019 9.53am
Reply to  glissantia

China new global superpower could have monitored the world and Hong Kong demonstrators should realize USA and Britain are not able to defend them.
Just look at China technologies like their own Comac C919 commercial planes to replace Boeing and Airbus and Xiaopeng G3 could be ahead of Tesla for global electric cars markets. Want to go head on with China better think twice?

https://youtu.be/dnE-to1KCw0

glissantia
glissantia
19 Sep 2019 3.35pm
Reply to  Lim Goh Poh

It is not just consumer and glamour products such as cars and planes. China leads (does not just compete well) in a very long list of fields of science and tech. (I don’t have the link).

The response of the Great Shaitan is (a) propaganda, e.g. that China is copying and stealing (b) economic warfare (c) subversive warfare on at least 3 fronts.

For PRC/CCP, this is just a “trial spot” to demonstrate subverted “Western democracy” to its people.
http://www.unz.com/article/hong-kong-trial-spot/

Pipit
Pipit
27 Sep 2019 12.09pm
Reply to  glissantia

Alibaba unveiled its first chip to power artificial intelligence (AI) processes called the Hanguang 800. It can cut down computing tasks that would take an hour down to five minutes.

Huawei has also unveiled its own AI chips highlighting how China’s technology giants are pushing the country’s homegrown semiconductor industry.

https://www.cnbc.com/amp/2019/09/25/alibaba-unveils-its-first-ai-chip-called-the-hanguang-800.html

Beijing highlighted semiconductors as a key area of the “Made in China 2025” plan, a government initiative that aims to boost the production of higher-value products. China aims to produce 40% of the semiconductors it uses by 2020 and 70% by 2025.

Anfield
Anfield
19 Sep 2019 9.04pm
Reply to  Lim Goh Poh

The quantum revolution is coming, and Chinese scientists are at the forefront

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/08/18/quantum-revolution-is-coming-chinese-scientists-are-forefront/%3foutputType=amp

Read the article, you will realise why Trump is so afraid of China’s emerging technology, not just in Huawei.

Anfield
Anfield
19 Sep 2019 9.10pm
Reply to  Lim Goh Poh

How China became a subatomic superpower with quantum technology

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.gq-magazine.co.uk/article/quantum-technology-china%3famp

tunglang
tunglang
19 Sep 2019 11.12pm
Reply to  Lim Goh Poh

In awe with China’s hitech advancement & economic progress while blinding the self to her barbaric behaviour? Bru, this is not wholesome advancement but a growing monster. In awe with wide open mouth while flies fly inside unnoticed?

Shriek
20 Sep 2019 10.34pm
Reply to  tunglang

You can’t see the 4000km of walls to keep out the barbarians? Worst now you are twisting and spinningbthe facts. China is very very small. It becomes very very big due to barbarians like mongols, Manchurians who conquered China and regions like tibet and xinjiang. During munchus period, Tibet monks were serving the qing emerors

Anfield
Anfield
21 Sep 2019 10.57am
Reply to  tunglang

The Trauma of Trump’s Intentional Brutality at the Border
https://msmagazine.com/2019/07/11/the-trauma-of-trumps-intentional-brutality-at-the-border/

In awe with wide open mouth while human rights violations unnoticed?

US embraced Joshua Wong and Denise Ho all the way to congress, but subject migrants and asylum seekers to brutality at the border?

Don Anamalai
Don Anamalai
24 Sep 2019 1.05pm
Reply to  Anfield

Trump is making a fool of Modi of India.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=nTdRmJcCEKc

Modi has misplaced priorities for India, wasting money on rocket to the moon (that crashed!) when the money could be used to build thousands of toilets in India.

Pipit
Pipit
29 Sep 2019 11.05am
Reply to  tunglang

Will the house that Huawei built crumble without Google? Evidence says no

https://cnalifestyle.channelnewsasia.com/trending/huawei-google-china-11948286

Look to any number of Chinese Internet giants and you’ll see it doesn’t really have to export its products to be massively profitable. At the end of last year, China had over 700 million smartphone users, and that’s just over half of its 1.4 billion population.

Wei
Wei
19 Sep 2019 10.30pm
Reply to  Lim Goh Poh

don’t kpkb if you get robbed and there is no CCTV…hehe

will the woman brutally assaulted and robbed in the life in a MRT in Klang Valley get justice if not of the CCTV ??

Anfield
Anfield
18 Sep 2019 9.40am

In order to improve food production yield and encourage jobless youth into modern farming, Malaysia can certainly learn from China’s modern indoor vertical farming:

SpaceMarine
SpaceMarine
18 Sep 2019 10.55am
Reply to  Anfield

This is a good documentary to follow on this topic. Aired yesterday on CNA about how Cameron Highlands’s farmers are taking up initiatives (reduce pesticide usage, greenhouse protection, hydroponics and imported fertilizers) in order for their veges to bypass SG authorities strict standards.

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/video-on-demand/for-foods-sake/butter-kailan-11911454

Lim Goh Poh
Lim Goh Poh
19 Sep 2019 10.00am
Reply to  Anfield

Commercial AI 5G technology pig farming in China

https://youtu.be/JTY2V5cwVJU

Now shortage of pork but China can easily inxrease supply using technology. The pigs live in condo environment?

Anfield
Anfield
21 Sep 2019 11.06am
Reply to  Lim Goh Poh

Watch out for “Kun Peng” high performance chips for CPU and server, set to erode the dominance of Intel:

tunglang
tunglang
18 Sep 2019 9.48am

Niao Kong used to lament about state account deficit but later ‘proved’ state fund surplus!
Now, PgCAT wants to tax more from assessment rate (Ass Rate if you like to call it, Anil pls don’t censor).
Next lamenting will come from Chow Chow about deep-state deficit to justify the higher Ass Rate Tax. No need to prove otherwise until the completion of super-expensive PTMP.

Lim Goh Poh
Lim Goh Poh
18 Sep 2019 11.47am
Reply to  tunglang

PBA may raise water bill because treated water in Penang cheapest in Bolehland and many Penangites overuse without conservation in mind.
I think PBA can raise water price moderately BUT Indah Water has to lower the charges to balance out.

Anfield
Anfield
19 Sep 2019 4.09pm

Majlis Bandaraya tends to spend money on unnecessary stuff like so-called beautification projects, perhaps to provide lifeline to their contractors?

SpaceMarine
SpaceMarine
18 Sep 2019 9.33am

Japan will consider coordinated release of oil reserves and other measures if needed to ensure sufficient supplies after attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities.
Japan has oil reserves that are enough to cover more than 230 days of domestic consumption.

https://japantoday.com/category/business/japan-will-consider-release-of-oil-reserves-if-necessary-industry-min

Meanwhile Singapore also has oil reserves lying 150m deep underground of the Jurong rock caverns in addition to their oil refinering capacities.

Milk Tea
Milk Tea
18 Sep 2019 3.21pm
Reply to  SpaceMarine

A nation with hardly any natural resources and are able to achieve what it is today is truly aspiring.

Milk Tea
Milk Tea
18 Sep 2019 3.16pm

Socialist government means more taxes. All the benefits received will be funnelled to the monstrous PTMP project. Sometimes doing nothing is better than doing something damaging.

glissantia
glissantia
18 Sep 2019 7.33pm
Reply to  Milk Tea

In semi-socialist European countries, people are quite happy to pay around 50% of their income in taxes — because they are experiencing the benefit. Maybe this applies in Australia/NZ too.
PTMP is a typical capitalist super-scam that has nothing to do public benefit.

For the new “city”, some of the taxes will go towards buildings, renovation, furniture, luxury vehicles, ceremonies, con-sultants…

Lim Goh Poh
Lim Goh Poh
18 Sep 2019 11.51am

https://youtu.be/z86siDp3HeQ

Fish supply dwindling because of overfishing even before reclaimation takes shape.

Fish ball content may be filled with starch. There is minimal 40% real fish content per regulation in Spore, not sure Malaysia has such standard ?

Anfield
Anfield
19 Sep 2019 9.18am

Barang Naik.

Traditional Indian barbers have warned that prices of haircuts may rise from RM10 to RM30 or more if the government prohibits them from hiring foreign workers.
https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2019/09/19/rm30-haircut-at-indian-barbershop#LCWYUfcX6zkjA3pP.99

Lim Goh Poh
Lim Goh Poh
19 Sep 2019 11.21am
Reply to  Anfield

Many foreign workers who surprisjngly able to stay on long in Bolehland now want to live like locals and game enough to squeeze as much from locals before they legally return home or deported for overstay (free flights provided by taxpayers).

Don Anamalai
Don Anamalai
19 Sep 2019 1.02pm
Reply to  Anfield

Look on the positive side, local B40 can become barber to earn better money, right?

Just like the Nanak restaurant chain, the barber boss has a chain of barber shops employing cheap foreign labour. Time for locals to set up own barber kiosk to be self employed. Perhaps TVET can teach hair dressing course too.

SpaceMarine
SpaceMarine
19 Sep 2019 3.58pm
Reply to  Don Anamalai

What’s worse is that diseases like TB who have long been deemed ‘extinct’ in Malaysia is now making a comeback. Too many illegal foreign workers brought in by towkays to save costs of hiring locals that did not bypass any state authorised health screenings. I rather spend an additional RM8 (Rm18) @ Quickcut (Inspired from Japan’s 1000 yen cut) to get a cleaner and perfect haircut using properly sanitized equipment. One does not necessary have to spend over Rm30 on hipster, modern age saloons like Hairstory etc.

tunglang
tunglang
18 Sep 2019 7.36pm

Next to raise will be Quit Rent in Penang. So far, no quit rent bills from Land Office or is it going to be another bill-lost-in-postal delivery just like the Assessment Rate Bills of 2017 & 2018 & MBPP charged house owners for late payments not of their fault.
So much for CAT efficiency boasting & thick faced charging of Penangites!

Lim Goh Poh
Lim Goh Poh
19 Sep 2019 9.16am
Reply to  tunglang

Not sure how they gonna collect quit rent this year. Those live in apartments used to pay yearly collectively by building mgmt but now reportedly have to pay by own selves. Any idea why the change ? To improve state revenues?

tunglang
tunglang
19 Sep 2019 8.01pm
Reply to  Lim Goh Poh

This is now a burden on those staying in apartments as they have to go to Komtar to pay quit rent besides incurring travel costs, parking & time. Also, this will definitely be a chance to raise quit rent rather than to save management fees as an excuse to bleed Penangites. With Assessment Rate + Quit Rent condemned & likely increased charges respectively, be prepared for higher costs of living in Cosmopolitan Penang Reserved for the Rich & Famous – genuine & opportunistic by Kopitiam Chinese hawkers, India’s Indian barbers, Mamak restaurants, Hokkien funeral parlours, Indian car washers, Malay traditional… Read more »

Lim Goh Poh
Lim Goh Poh
20 Sep 2019 4.50pm
Reply to  tunglang

A year before GE15 the authorities will be smart to raise this and that. Then within months before GE15 Penang Seniors over 60 may get increase in yearly allowance from present RM130 to may be RM150.
RM150 uncles and aunties happy happy continue to ride rocket to the sky.

Pipit
Pipit
27 Sep 2019 11.42am

GEORGE TOWN: Penang’s legacy as a food haven faces a new challenge: few are willing to continue its hallowed hawker tradition. The number of hawkers has gradually declined from 2014, according to the Penang Institute, a public policy think tank funded by the state government. In a research paper on “Making Food Hawking in Penang Sustainable”, it found that the number of licences issued to food hawkers by the Penang Island City Council had dropped from 3,410 in 2014 to 3,212 in 2018. Furthermore, in a poll conducted with 35 food hawkers, only 20% said they have a definite plan… Read more »

Lim Goh Poh
Lim Goh Poh
19 Sep 2019 2.55pm

Reclaimed island EIA report under mainstram spotlight now with Penang Forum taking on CM Chow and Project Delivery Partners ?

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2019/09/19/penang-group-says-cm-chows-claim-that-eia-took-2-years-misleading/

Wei
Wei
19 Sep 2019 10.35pm

hehe…fresh coat of paint is more important than personal safety in public places…? Green warrior thought B40 want bin chui as much as them…? no wonder the green warriors got their priority upside down and yet they have the cheeks to teach the government how to run the state ….LOL