RM5-8bn Penang tunnel: Another controversial swap deal


The Penang government plans to hand over more super-prime sea-front land to corporations as part of a swap deal to finance the controversial proposed RM5-8bn 6.5km tunnel from Gurney Drive to Bagan Ajam.

The state government has to clarify why it is going ahead with the tunnel project when the Penang Transport Masterplan is not yet ready. This is clearly at odds with the global trend towards public transport in the face of limited reserves of fossil fuels worldwide and global warming/climate change.

The Penang government must also clarify whether it will be in compliance with provisions in the National Land Code that state that foreshore land should be on a leasehold basis not exceeding 99 years.

And it must tell us exactly which land it plans to surrender to the tunnel builder, and if it is going to be reclaimed land, where that land will be located. How much land and where in Gurney Drive? And at what valuation – when that valuation could triple in a short space of time, as reported. Is the state/public interest going to end up the loser again by handing over more super-prime land to the big corporations?

It looks as if it is not only BN leaders who have a ‘mega-project’ mentality and who want to leave their legacy (of congestion) for future generations to ‘enjoy’.

The Star report:

KUALA LUMPUR: The Penang government has proposed the construction of a third link – a 6.5km underground tunnel from the mainland to Butterworth.

The tunnel is one of four projects announced by Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng here to resolve the island’s severe traffic problems.

“We estimate that the project will cost RM5bil to RM8bil depending on the bids from prospective contractors,” he told a press conference Monday.

Lim said the state government will pay the contractors via a land swap deal. The land is located in the Gurney Drive tourist belt.

“It will be a win-win situation. The government does not have to pay money and the contractor gets prime land that will triple in value,” he said.

The tender process is expected to start on Nov 15.

Lim explained that the project would undergo a lengthy feasibility study and expects construction to commence in 2015.

“We target the completion to be in 2020, although it can be completed earlier,” said the first term Chief Minister.

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Soon Penang will not be what it is the Pearl of the Orient.
It will become the next concrete island


Yang, then, what should we do? Which cities in the world are not congested?

If all these projects are undertaken by BN, huh, i tell you the BN politicians are building more palaces for themselves !!!

Some people said homosexual is getting rampant so as to stop the world population !!!

I think life goes on and the world goes round and round.

I would say a tunnel is a good choice !!!


Its not that I oppose the underground tunnel. I think we have one too many bridges for a small island of our with a population of less than a million on the island. We should use the money to provide a better infrastructure and road system. It seem that nowadays road, condo, apartment and infrastructure are being build haphazardly without any planning for the future unlike Singapore.


Yang, as you know many of the projects were approved during Gerakan time.


It IS a concrete island now!


Gerakan under Lim Ching Eu has been building DAP’s rocket at Komtar. Komtar multi million project was given to his relative in sinkapore. why Sinkapore base architect was chosen? ACA did nothing.

K S Ong

“The Star report:

KUALA LUMPUR: The Penang government has proposed the construction of a third link – a 6.5km underground tunnel from the mainland to Butterworth.”

Just a small note, the above ‘from the mainland to Butterworth’ does not make sense.


The federal government is very clever not to include certain allocations in the budget, so the way to finance a crony project would be to do a land-swap deal. In 2009, the Auditor General raised questions over the RM256 million Skudai 7th Brigade Army Camp project in Johor Bahru. This was awarded in 1997 but, after 15 years, is only 18.3 per cent complete. The … Corporation who was awarded this project had (allegedly) already collected the construction fee in full, and was (allegedly) given 153 hectares of land. Records reveal that a RM465 million bank loan was paid out… Read more »

Robert Tan

Gerakan government awarded the following: 1992, 980 acres of land to E&O in beach front Tanjong Tokong without building any highway. Thats why Sime Darby buying into E&O so that to have a cut in the development.
In 1997, IJM was awarded the privatized construction of the Jelutong Expressway by the Penang State Government. As part of the privatization agreement for the construction of the Jelutong Expressway, JDSB was granted the right to reclaim 325 acres of land for development.
So Anil, whats the fuss about this new tunnel now?

Ong Eu Soon

The Penang Transport council should be dissolved as it fail to advise the CM against the RM8billion infrastructure project. All we need is ITDP, a truly professionals with proven tracking record for sustainable transportation planning and implementation. I would like to call upon all Penangites to use my Penang Citizen’s Alternative Initiative as the kick start to invite ITDP to come on board and provide us the critical know how to improve our public transportation system. We are wasting RM3.2 million for integrated transport master plan with proven incompetent consultants like Halcrow, which has been given chances but fail to… Read more »

semuanya OK kot

This is a good example of the intrinsic problem of capitalism. It is inherently unustainable, and deifies greed and dissatisfaction. It is propped up by the pseudo-science of economics.


The problem is nobody in Rocket Chance is listening or getting to the streets to know, understand and at least empathize with the sentiments of average Penangites. What the whole lot of listening to is by way of getting to the deep pockets of developers, who only want themselves (and nobody else) to be listened to, to their sleepless fantasies of turning Penang into cosmopolitan city of global proportion and excesses. It looks like only if you have money for projects will Rocket Chance take the booster effort to listen every second to your golden proposals. But the heck of… Read more »

Gerakan K

Rocket Chance ??? Siapa tu ???


Rocket Chance ialah Satu Peluang Emas Untuk UBAH, peluang pertama ‘meletup’ Gelakan dari bumi yang disayangi, Pulau Pinang. Maklamat ini sudah dicapai dengan cukup memuaskan hati.
Sekarang UBAH yang masih dijalankan dan lebih penting ialah kehidupan Rakyat Pulau Pinang. Inilah yang bukan di main-main seperti Satu Lagi Projek Kos Sederhana? dari Feds. Kita bukan burung ostrich berotak kacang putih.

Pahamkah, Gerakan K?

Ong Eu Soon

Woh! Tunglang now we are in the same league of thinking. The DEVELOPMENT action party will go all out to build as like there is no tomorrow. The sheer incompetent of this party make it the most kai su party in Malaysia. The party want anything and everything that call DEVELOPMENT. No direction nor understand what the implication will be for the future.


Penang needs a good public transport system as much as every other city. Cities that possess such a system only achieved it when concerted efforts had being made to realise it and continue to do so. Thus, having poor public transport is no excuse for not improving it; rather, it is more of a reason to do more work on it! Building a new road will ease congestion but only in the short term. The phenomenon of induced traffic will dictate that a road will not stay free-flowing. No driver is going to say, “Look at how uncongested the road… Read more »


When it comes to prime land, none of us commoners will get an inch of it. Only those with money to burn will be able to buy prime land.
The CM also mentioned very clearly that it will be evaluated carefully .
There are rooms to voice out concerns unlike the bn styled projects which are normally in stealth mode.

Ong Eu Soon

My biased stand against LGe did not blind me from advocating sensible transit options for Penangites. The comments posted above shown majority of the Kai Su and Kai Sue sycophant supporters of LGe can’t make rational judgments when come to critical decision affecting their political idol. Now the state government has the opportunity to seek the help of ITPD if LGe is so (upset) with me. ITPD is better position than me to offer the assistance to make our BRT dream come true. My initiative should act as the kick start for ITDP to come in and help us make… Read more »

Ong Eu Soon

ITPD is behind the success of Jakarta BRT. We can easily ask for the help of ITPD which has staffs stationed in Jakarta. Even Jakarta has more forward minded politicians than our Bolehland. Deemed a breakthrough approach to public transportation in Jakarta, the Transjakarta Bus Rapid Transit system has changed Jakartans’ travel behavior in the city. The steady increase in passengers has come in line with the increasing number of corridors. This has significantly boosted revenue. Unfortunately, increased revenue has not been followed by improvements in service. In one day the new transportation system, popularly known as the busway, is… Read more »


The crux of the matter is that there has not been any comprehensive overall study of the implications. For something so massive and life-changing, there needs to be the appropriate, honest studies into the possible ramifications. Professional input is always crucial. Governments might have their own agenda and choose to ignore crucial advice to our detriment. Politicians are NOT planners, and must not be given the authority to make planning decisions without the required evaluations. The Japanese consultants under JICA had come to Penang on various occasions, and their traffic studies had always been saying the same things, that Komtar… Read more »

Ong Eu Soon

That make me remember after implementing the one way loop system, THN put the implementation in the Penang Island Structure Plan. Such a … politician can’t even differentiated between plan and implementation, what can you expect from him? … stupid!


The problem with the traffic loops in Georgetown really needs re-evaluation from our traffic engineers. It is ridiculous, bird-brained. You want to go from A to B but you need to do A-C-D-E-B. Someone else needs to do B to A but has to do B-E-F-G-A. Then yet someone else has to go from H to I and has to enter the same morass of loops as well. So there’s a lot of unnecessary traffic shuffling around, congesting the inner roads. All because of traffic lights they want you to avoid, which in the end they had to re-introduce.

Ong Eu Soon

The Guangzhou’s BRT is only serving a 22.5-kilometer Bus Rapid Transit corridor while my initiative call for a 250km Bus Rapid Transit corridors ITDP provided key technical advice to Guangzhou on the design of the system and started collecting data before the project was built and continues to monitor the project’s impacts, working towards a comprehensive report that will be released in the months ahead. The findings regarding the system’s impacts on Guangzhou’s CO2 and other air pollution emissions are ready and ITDP has released an interim report with these results. Key findings include: * The system will reduce Guangzhou’s… Read more »

Ong Eu Soon

The undersea tunnel project is a massive overkill that provide very limited length of route to reduce traffic congestion. Worst it is directing traffic from the main land to make Gurney Drive unbearable. The saving from RM5 to 8 billion by implementing my Penang Citizen’s Alternative Transit Initiative, can be used to implement a lot of affordable housing, municipal compost facilities, flood mitigation with low impact development approach and etc. All those are other political rewards awaiting LGe for decades to come. Why want to implement a project that lead to political uproar when the next general election is predicted… Read more »

Ong Eu Soon

If LGe has the political wisdom to adopt my Penang Citizen’s Alternative Initiative, he will be seen as a visionary leader better than Dr M, otherwise he will be seen as Bo Hood 2.0. LGe’s narrow approach to luring new business with a risky drive for growth will lead to his defeat in the next general election. It is time for him to buck up and make better judgments for Penangites without owing any favors to special interests when come to development issues. LGe should lead by example by showing that he has a plain set of guiding principles, upon… Read more »

Ong Eu Soon

With the help of ITDP, the state government will not has the worry about the lack of expertise in helping implementing the BRT solution. The short planning and implementation time will allow LGe to reap the political rewards for implement a sensible public transportation solution before the next election. LGe penchant for the multi-billion tunnel project without a token tiny transit component will be met with political uproar and back fire from forward minded and non-partisan voters. With my initiative, LGe doesn’t has to rely on controversial land swap deal to finance it. The RM1 billion the state government make… Read more »


Just look at the ‘proposed’ or ‘in the pipeline’ splurge on ‘new’ developments for lifestyle rather than for socio-economic-environmental justifications in Penang. Do we actually need to be noticed like kaya-raya instead of being prudent and wise in resource management for the masses? Do we need to frog-leap when we can’t even completely crawl out of the cesspool of economic doldrums since the early 90’s? Where are the brains in LGE’s team to plan and implement what had been promised to Penangites to make our simple (not GaGas, blink-blink) dreams come true after so many donkey years under Boh Lan… Read more »

Ong Eu Soon

My Penang Citizen’s alternative Transit Initiative only call for the state government to provide the necessary BRT infrastructures to facilitate the bus operators to run the BRT services. Bus operators only need to invest on the buses and the payment system. It never ask the state government to run a bus service. By doing so, the state government is free to do what it want without the intervention of the federal. If the state government can invest on the FTZ infrastructures to help the rich MNCs, why can it invest on BRT infrastructures to help easing the burden of investment… Read more »

Ong Eu Soon

This is exactly why my Penang Citizen’s Alternative Transit Initiative should be seriously look into. The initiative called for a BRT that cover all the proposed routes of Penang Outer Ring Road with extra routes extended to Telok Pahang and cut across the inner parts of the island. It even able to provide the BRT services to the main land at total RM650million. Why should we spend RM5 to 8 billion for a less than 12km tunnel, when we can have a BRT services covering a total of 250km busway at only RM650million. The bus operators only need to invest… Read more »

Ong Eu Soon

If the state government has implemented the BRT infrastructure and if the federal refuse to allow Rapid Penang to provide the required BRT services. The resulting political uproar will cause sufficient stir to generate a political earthquake at Putrajaya. All the bo hood Bolehlanders will dare not come back to Penang politic.


Just because we need to solve the worsening traffic problems we go the mass / volume dispersal of vehicles on the road type of solutions, instead of mass commuters transportation the cheaper, eco-friendly alternatives. Just because we ‘think’ private car ownership or driving habits will not abate in spite of increasing fuel prices, car prices and traffic congestions that roads, bridges and tunnels are the only ‘viable’ solutions or no solution. Just because we want development (any type of brick, mortar, steel, green glass) in the face of financial ‘choke’ by the Feds we look the other way of the… Read more »

Jonny T

LGE’s administration needs to consider a better implementation plan for public transport, instead of JUST focusing on road construction and widening. Imagine a state of 1.5 million people, with about 700,000 on the island itself, has no commuter rail and bus BRT system. The current rapid penang (yes, I know its privately owned by Scomi) has routes that zig zag across the island instead of the feeder+main route. The bus stops are always being replaced with nicer designs every year, but most stops have NO notice boards on which bus stops there, and a basic route map. So we have… Read more »

Ong Eu Soon

The problem is that the existing old railway stations have been dismantled. One wonder whether the federal government will rebuild the stations or not. So how are we going to get a rail service from Nibong Tebal to Butterworth without any railway station.

Ong Eu Soon

The other important thing that the Penang Transport Master Plan need to do is to specifically designate railway stations from Nibong Tebal all the way to Butterworth. This is the only way to exert political pressure to the federal government so that we the Penangites will benefit from the the double tracking and electrification project.


1. A systematic, integrated and user friendly public transport plan is a must Penang. Look at Singapore- developed tremendously over the decades and has a good and integrated public transport system (not perfect, but still much better than what we have here.) 2. Look at all the great cities in the world- they all have a public transport-centered system. 3. It does not mean that we should built MRTs or monorails, upgrading the bus system can be done to ease congestion, i.e, increase number of buses and frequency, and maintain punctuality. Look up Sao Paolo’s bus system- declared as one… Read more »


Only drunkards can’t see the bottle necks, but the bottom line of bottoms up to the last drop of insanity.


Anil What alternatives do we have. the Public transport has been given to the UMNO/Gerakan Federal Government. So what can the state government do to improve the traffic. How can one hold the state government accountable. Even if Rapid Buses were to add more buses, Umno/Gerakan Government is not going to spend money to improve the busway and hence the road gets choke. Even if Penang Government has a tender exercise, which Company is going to dump RM8 Billion for the tunnel and then a few billion to reclaim the sea and to develop the land. When will they make… Read more »


The writer is jumping the gun. Of course the questions raised are relevant. But there are hundreds more important issues that will be raised in the future. But now the project is not even out for tender yet only a PREQUALIFICATION exercise. In this process the Potential Tenderer only submits company details such as financing status,experience,manpower,equipment and maybe some preliminary proposal of the project to prove they are able to tender or carry out the project. Upon passing this process then only they will called to tender for project. This will take months for the pre qualification and tender process.… Read more »


As a development model, I think the Jelutong expressway deal was a legitimate one. Many governments around the world have got private companies to build infrastucture on similar basis. The quantum of the land price is questionable – the previous State government either got bad advice on the potential value of the surrounding land, or knowingly downjudged the transfer price, for its own reasons. The key requirement is “transparency” – the Terms and Conditions of the deal must be open to the public to see that proper process has been followed. The backroom OSA Secret contracts that UMNO/BN was and… Read more »


Lim Guan Eng seriously needs to rethink the car-highway-centric traffic plan. For a small island like Penang, its simply not the right direction to go. I’m well aware of the frustrations the Penang state government has dealing with public transport through the Federal Government, SPAD, and Rapid, that Unholy Trinity of UMNO-controlled organisations, who too often have “other interests” at heart, instead of the focusing on the transport users. Nevertheless, a traffic plan which emphasises private motorcars is just going to add to the unsustainable development of the island. One of Penang’s important attractions is that it is (comparatively) still… Read more »