Why I am against the Penang convention centre


The proposal for a Penang International Convention Centre is already moving, but I dare say a large majority of Penangites are unaware of it.

This artist impression of the convention centre doesn’t show how close it will be to the existing Penang International Sports Arena (Pisa).

In fact, the public have been given until 8 January 2010 to submit their opinions and views – and that’s it for the consultation.

The Bayan Baru Residents Association has already registered its objection in a letter to the press. You can submit your views to the Penang Municipal Council or you can email your views to [email protected] before the deadline expires.

Personally, I am against the project, which is expected to cost RM50 million (and that’s just an estimate). The money is expected to come out of the precious funds of the Council, which has budgeted a deficit of RM40 million in 2010 on the back of revenue of RM230 million (two thirds of which is raised from assessments/taxes). The Council has allocated RM30 million for the convention centre in 2010 and a further RM20 million is expected to be incurred in 2011.

Why Penang doesn’t need a convention centre like this built with public funds:

  • Has there been a traffic impact study for the project?
  • Parking could be nightmarish as there are inadequate parking lots. Just look what happens during the computer fair, when people park all over the place.
  • The new convention centre is to be built right smack in front of Pisa. During construction, Pisa’s operations will be affected. And after construction, Pisa’s own business and utilisation will probably take a hit.
  • The new convention centre is unlikely to be heavily utilised. What is the cost-benefit of the project? Where is the financial rationale?
  • Why not just upgrade Pisa and be done with it.

Spending RM50 million on a convention centre would be a terrible waste of the Council’s limited funds, contributed by rate-payers. All this while, the Council has been scrimping on other essential projects. The money saved on the convention centre project could be better used for the following:

  • Upgrading existing public markets and building new Council markets in places like Batu Maung and Teluk Kumbar.
  • Improving pavements and disabled access around Penang.
  • Upgrading and repairing old drains that are in poor condition.
  • Upgrading and installing modern public toilets on the island, especially in George Town. The state of a city’s public toilets tells you a lot about the place.
  • Beefing up Council enforcement units to improve cleanliness and reduce congestion. This heightened visibility would have the indirect spin-off of deterring street crime.
  • Upgrading the Council’s entire computer system, which I am told is “archaic”.
  • Initiating its own heritage conservation projects, now that the federal government has denied the Penang local government its rightful allocation of funds for heritage conservation (and instead channelled it via Khazanah Penang).

And that’s just a sample of things it could do with that kind of money. So apart from the actual money spent, we have to think of the above ‘opportunity costs’ – the things we could have done with the money if not for this project.

I will be e-mailing my views above to the Council (Update:Β  Done!). You might want to do likewise, whether you or not you are in favour of the project. (I don’t think the Council has received much feedback from the public so far.)

Meanwhile, blog reader S H Tan has come up with an online petition on the convention centre here.

Please help to support this blog if you can.

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i agrees that Penang is in need of a proper convention centre but i don’t believe this is the one Penang needed right now… We have that PESTA Pulau Pinang site at Sg Nibong but i think its a rather outdated, fix that first and we’ll start talking bout a PICC then… if we cant even handle to properly manage such small scale exposition site, don’t start on a big one… learn by crawling, not jumping, we’re not kangaroos… πŸ˜›


Saya memang setuju dengan bantahan terhadap projek ini. Mungkin ada yang berfikiran agar kami semua beri peluang kepada LGE untuk membuktikan yang beliau memang ada rancangan besar untuk PP ataupun beliau memang berkaliber untuk menjayakan PP he arah tahap baru dan lebih maju dari dulu. Tapi, pada pendapat saya PICC adalah satu projek yanag sememangnya TIDAK BOLEH dijadikan prioriti kerana alasan ia akan menarik pelabur dan pelawat ke PP adalah satu alasan yang tidak kuat sangat. Untuk menarik perhatian pelabur atau pelawat, apa yang dikehendaki adalah sebuah negeri yang stabil dari segi politik dan juga dari segi pembangunan. Membina sebuah… Read more »


Unlike Khalid Ibrahim, Lim Guan Eng has never thought of how he should serve the people. Unlike Khalid Ibrahim, Lim Guan Eng doesn’t have any managerial experience. Selangor prospers under Khalid Ibrahim while Penang turns from bad to worse. Selangor is a big state. Penang is much smaller than Selangor. Comparatively Penang is much easier to manage than Selangor but please tell me, what has Lim Guan Eng done for Penang, so far? We kicked out Koh Tsu Koon because we are tired of his uselessness and the (BN) corruption. …but this PICC, especially the way Lim Guan Eng fast-track… Read more »


That LGE is forging ahead without a care for the rakyat’s views is an indication that how far he and DAP have moved on since their pre-GE days. DAP used to be the party for the man-in-the-street with no taste for grandiosity or mega projects. Their opposition to mega projects such as PORR, PGCC and many others are the testament for their principled stance rooted on social democracy. However, putting them on power has unleashed their inner demons and turned them into a third-rate and low cost version of the tyrannical and paternistic PAP. LGE himself has been the grand… Read more »


To those who favor the building of that mini-convention center I will ask you this — How many of you have attended world class conventions in other countries, like Japan, China and America ? Please tell me how big the convention centers are. The land on the whole PISA compound isn’t big. If we take away the existing structures, the available land mass is even smaller. How to build a world class convention center with such a puny piece of land ? No, I am not saying that we should build the LARGEST convention center in the world, but if… Read more »

Rate Payer

Anil,since the MICE is a council project,the public must have a say and scrutinise on the feasibility first. Why LGE wants to rush it and complete by December 2010?This is against his own motto of CAT governance.SO far no public forum has been set up from MPPP or State Government to gahter public and expert views first and deadlines have been set.


Is there a comparison between PGCC and PICC being made ? For a start, the glaring difference is G=Global and I=International. The PGCC was very much opposed by the PR then and one of the reason is traffic congestion. How does the PICC overcome this and has there been a study conducted ? Did the very same reasons why the PR rejected the PGCC has not turn 180 degrees that the PICC is very much needed now ? Is there some “external pressure” that is mounting that requires the PICC to be built as immediate ? Remember, it takes Taiwan… Read more »

kc lim

the issue is not whether penang needs a convention centre. it is (1)whether PICC is the business of MPPP to build and maintain. Obviously MPPP had done a bad job for PISA and now it is being asked to shoulder another monument. (2)where is the feasibility study and why is MPPP being pressured to build it in a hurry-to be completed by 2010, tender to be called in january? (3)why no competition for design and why the reliance on the same architect who built PISA? (4)why the location? does everyone know that it will be located at the front entrance… Read more »


Guys guys guys … let look at it fairly. In KL there are the following places for conventions and concerts: PWTC – heavily booked KL Convention Centre – heavily booked Putra Stadium, Bk Jalil – heavily booked Sunway Convention Centre – average booking MINE Exhibition Centre – low booking So what is this? Well, it means KL is a massive place for exhibitions, conventions and concerts. Also, those who do well are in the right place and are very well managed. Now Penang needs to ask this: i. does it have the actual traffic for such events; ii. do they… Read more »


Let me share my thoughts. I don’t think anyone disputing the MICE industry is lucrative and profitable or the fact that Penang needs new avenues and attractions in order to diversify its flagging economy. The main issue is whether we need to shovel Rm50M down the drain to build a new convention center. I think a more sesnsible and responsible government would have done a cost-benefit analysis rather than try to lecture down to the rakyat. An accountable leader would have facts and data to support such plan instead of wishful thinking. Has LGE asked Penang EPU to carry out… Read more »


Penang needs the developments necessary to enhance its position as a leading trade centre, which it once enjoyed. With the lack of serious activity to promote trade in the past two decades, Penang had transformed from being a busy commercial centre to a sleepy hollow. I still remembered vividly how active Penang was previously, lots of tourists, a favourite spot for Thais, Indonesians, Burmese, Singaporeans and famed for its beautiful beaches that attracted many from near and far. Commercial activities were so rife and everyone was doing a roaring business, but today, after twenty years of mismanagement, what is left… Read more »


O I think you are trapped in nonstaglia and wishful thinking. There is just no comparison between KL, Singapore and Penang and there will never be. KL and Singapore are commercial and financial centers with vastly better infrastructure. Penang on the other hand is an industrial hub and values its heritage, culture and history. Penang could have been an entertaintment center decades ago but precisely because they lost this business and entertaintment sectors that the Penang leaders had decided to turn the state into an industrial hub of global proportion and world class standard. Penang needs to re-evaluate its economic… Read more »


I think you should stand against LGE in the next GE. You sounded so much a sour grape. And the fact is your chances of unseating LGE is slim and none. Which part of the body are you speaking from? Penang used to be “the place” in Malaysia, long before KL was developed at very frantic pace. From commercial to entertainment, we make our way to Penang. Sometimes, please for goodness sake, please comment with facts rather than to spin. Penang will never move anywhere with people like you. Whenever the PR Government wants to start anything, people from the… Read more »


O Why are you cannot take constructive criticisms and resort to personal and unjustified attacks on the critics of the Cheap Minister ? Is this the way of DAP ? Has DAP transformed into PAP ? It is obvious from you writing that you are a strong, ultra-DAP supporter. In fact your antogonistic language reminds me of a certain advisor to the Cheap Minister. Why are you talking about people of the previous regime when we are discussing PICC ? Why can’t you justify the project and rebut the points that I and other commentators raised ? Why can’t you… Read more »


BN – Bolts and Nuts, Screwing the Rakyat left right and centre!


K, I “am not cannot take constructive criticisms of critics of the Chief Minister”. If DAP has indeed transformed to the PAP, congratulations Malaysians. At least we can see the lights at the end of the tunnel, rather than groping in the dark for the past decades, not knowing when the end will be under Bolts and Nuts, being screwed, screwed and screwed. Your desire to use “big” words without checking the proper usage and right wordings,denotes that you are one of a kind who wants to show off that you are knowledgeable, fearing that people will not know you… Read more »


O…mind telling me what kind of “big words” that I used “without checking the proper usage and right wordings” ?


I wish to differ your opinion. KL and Penang is different places. If you have visit Penang, you will know how fast the state has progress.

MINE exhibition is way out of KL. It is very unlikely to be any organization preference.

However, organization can prefer KL to Penang. If you see Hard Rock Hotel in Penang, you know Penang is not small.

Hope you don’t get offended.


Lie you said, “I don’t think anyone disputing the MICE industry is lucrative and profitable or the fact that Penang needs new avenues and attractions in order to diversify its flagging economy “`. SO IT CANNOT BE MONEY THAT GO DOWN THE DRAIN



Your argument is just doesn’t make sense. Yes, MICE is a good revenue generator but that doesn’t mean Penang stands the chance to get a slice of this business. As I had said, please upgrade PISA first to attract the crowds and if that succeeds then we can discuss about another convention center.


K, You are contradicting yourself in every comment you make. To be exact, you had contradicted yourself 5 times in the last four comments. You mentioned, “MICE is a revenue generator but it does not mean Penang stands a chance to get a slice of this business”. Why not? Kindly qualify your statement, without just generalizing it without facts and statistics. Upgrading PISA and attracting crowds? In what way? Just by upgrading, it will attract crowds? Without proper management and events? I think it will do you a whole lot of good if you can please go and upgrade existing… Read more »


O I agree that none of the critics’ arguments will make sense or sound logical to hard core DAP supporters like yourself. So keep living in your dreamworld where your leaders can do no wrong and see no need to justify their actions or be accountable to the rakyat. It is scary that DAP supporters and leaders behave in such dictatorial manner after barely in power for less than 2 years. It is not me but the Cheap Minister who has to convince the people on the feasibility since he’s the bloke who wants to splash Rm50M on a new… Read more »

SH Tan

CAMPAIGN AGAINST PICC The State Govt has shown an apparent attempt to be seen as transparent and accountable by asking for public feedback. Let’s hope this is not a PR prank to whitewash and say there are only a few objections from the Rakyat. To date, there are only 9 formal feedbacks to MPPP. Let us continue to get our voices be heard and insist that all valid objections and questions be fully addressed before they approve this project. The RM50mil that MPPP is going to spend is OUR money. Let us have a say in how they are going… Read more »


I salute you more if you are also asking same accountability from BN. Did you do that?

A total of RM 30 billion snail train projects were awarded to cronies without open tender and public feedback. And still people forgive and keep quiet against BN for stealing our billions of money.


I think we should be more proactive rather than reactive to the above project. After all, it is only the cost of one missing jet engines! Less than one per cent of the stimulus packages announced by the Federal Government to spur the economy but how has it stimulated the economy? But, whatever, being a responsible citizen, which I am sure you are, and you are correct to voice your opposition and objections in the true meaning of democracy, objectivity in objecting has got also got to be put in place. A good example of bad objections is the one… Read more »

kita serumbun

Dear Anil, I am against the location. The PISA is too tight for a PICC (‘international’). I believe originally PISA was built for recreation and sport purpose, but now even with car accessories shop and furniture shops occupied car parks lock, car wash, catering outlets and others. It can be very ‘rojak’ eventually. The PISA is underutilised since it was completed. Penang Government (PG) should look further, there is no place for any extension even if this proposal were success… Professional Associations like PAM, IEM, REHDA and NGOs should submit their professional advices to PG/ MPPP. A public interest-related project… Read more »

Sang Song

Penang certainly deserves to have a conventional centre of decent magnitude to bring in the experts in all sectors of industry to provide the boost for the economic activity when such meetings, conferences and seminars takes place. Penang would not want to be in the backwaters of economic development, I am sure. The world is developing at a fast pace and if you are not prepared, you will be left behind. Every city state has their own convention centre. KL and Selangor indeed has much more. The KL Convention centre, the Putrajaya Convention Centre, Sime Darby convention centre, Shah Alam… Read more »


Council is under the directive of the state government. Decision is to be made by the government and Council to implement it through the decision of the state government whether its Council money or not.


Spot on SS!
Backseat drivers always have an opinion but never want to actually drive.


Anil, Ajax editor is very odd with texts lean to the right.


You may modify the code to make it lean to the left.


If 50 million peoject by PR government is called huge project, then how your call 20 billion snail-like speed railway project by BN government? Penang is lacking a proper convention center since 80s and urgently need a decent convention center to be a commercial center. Where you are going to organize any international-class MICE if this “tiny” project is scrapped? In the Padang or in the Anil’s backyard? Go see how big and advanced convention centers in Singapore or Hong Kong before you are barking a wrong tree. Many questions raised by Anil and other opponents should be answered by… Read more »


I agree local council election is a promise not fulfill by DAP and PR. They have better be prepared some voters will abandon them in the next GE. I’ll spoil my vote instead of giving PR another chance. (of course BN will never get my vote for sure.) No one dispute that all money used by BN or PR government are our money. I have never said the money is a subsidy. Building a convention center is much better than giving out free subsidy for water, etc. with the 50 million. I see so-called objection for PICC from certain quarters… Read more »

Gerakan K

You missed the point. Please calculate that RM50 millions is of how many percentage of the state total income before comparing 20 billions of Federal government total income.


Even the percentage is 50% does not matter as long as ROI study can convince the project is feasible.

Do you know how many years for BN snail-like electric train to breakeven? The answer is NEVER.


The fact is RM20 billion again gone down the drain, squandered and misappropriated along the way. Why invest in a rail system that can run safely at 80km/hr when the current system can do just as well, if not better? It is another classic example of bad governance by UMNO/MCA, MIC and Gerakan and co. With regards to the Federal income, well, it should be the Government’s lack of income, should I say? If infact there is real income and proper budgetting and proper accounting, something we should not expect from the UMNO led BN Government, known for their inability… Read more »

Anthony Tan

I was told that the previous government had extended the land area lease to the operator of Auto City in Juru to build a three or four star hotel including a large convention/exhibition centre. This is suppose to be a private initiative that was why the extra land extention was given by the state or PDC to Auto City. Can someone check on this? I also understand, Auto City gave a very convincing proposal or is it after getting the land they now have got others ideas. The are pros and cons about the the proposed convention centre but the… Read more »


Anthony just bring back a lot of nostalgia of our highly respected Tun Dr. Lim.
Things has not been quite right in Penang after Dr. Lim. But who is the culprit of bringing down Dr. Lim and left Penang in a mess???
Bingo, he is precisely the CM’s father…..


The precious RM50m can be better used!

If it is the state government’s money there are more pressing matters as raised by others.

If it is a private venture, the state must ensure if it is built on government land, a fair deal must be reached for the use/transfer of that land.

I am quite disappointed the development was not that well publicised to ensure better input from the people.


So, are you expecting LGE to give free handouts for baiting vote campaign?

This PICC was announced in the papers except it was not carried by RTM. Don’t blame LGE if you cannot watch his face in RTM or TV3.

What is your better inputs? I see none from you.

SH Tan

To all commenters here:

The MPPP has said that they have only received 5 formal feedback/objections up till last week. If all of you feel so strongly about this project, please write in to MPPP with your formal feedback and objections. Pls be constructive and not just mere bashing.


I support SH Tan, please address to MPPP as soon as possible. It is worthless to argue here. The author also suggest to oppose at your might.

Again, MPPP is so fair to let opposition from the public before implementation.


Has there…could be…most probably….
Come on, you can do better than just being a fear monger.

And great suggestions on the alternatives but missing the cost breakdowns to make them more convincing. Ideas should be backed by data in order to sell. Just my 2cents.

ps…..Happy new year.


I cant do it myself as the exercise on cost and benefit studies required great expertise. I hope some one could ask MPPP to come out with cost and benefit studies to ensure the project the feasible to carry out in the near future.

In a development for public amenities, usually there is a cost and benefit studies to ensure the project is viable. The report is usually open to public for viewing.

Thanks Sunny.


I was referring to Anil’s article πŸ™‚


When come to objecting such a proposal, people tend to weight along their own interests. In another words, if the convention centre do not benefit me, just oppose, if the convention benefit me, just support. Penang has no land for agriculture, it is mainly tourist attraction and relying on business and trading. In my opinion, if the convention is meant to boost such area, we should not against it. This convention can be used to hold huge crowds for major conventions and not a hotel facilities. It is world class standard. I do not see it creates rivalry to hotel… Read more »

Dalbinder Singh Gill

Agree, upgrading existing convention facilities like in Pesta would cost less, after all, Pesta is under utilised from January to October. The economy is bad, is this where all the money the state government said it saved from reducing administration expenditure going to?

Ong eu Soon

LGE is desperate to show off. He think he can. The truth is he know nothing. He claimed that he save money for Penang but want to waste our money on a project that he himself is convinced will not bring financial return to the state government. There are better convention centers else where what make LGE think that with this new convention center more exhibition will be held in Penang? Dubai has the best but on the edge of bankruptcy. The world is still holding its breath in anticipation of the upcoming financial crisis in the backdrop of Dubai… Read more »


Your comment is more personal than factual. Whatever LGE has done or going to do, he will take the peoples views and deliberate on the matter. No need to claim that he is a show off or otherwise. Penang certainly can afford this project of 50million. It is just the cost of one missing jet engines! The gist of the article is whether it is justifiable to have another convention centre so close to Pisa and whether upgrading Pisa is a better alternative. Dubai, will never go bankrupt! Check your comments! The greatest fear of all Malaysians, is the welcoming… Read more »

Ong eu Soon

You want a factual one, you got it. This is what you ask for.
PICC: Monument of Lim Guan Eng β€” Ong Eu Soon

Happy reading!
You can fight me point by point in the Malaysia insider arena.

PR Man

I will not fight you la bro, we are ka kee lang la, both from Ko Ean la, Let us enjoy our crabs porridge at Chang Kee or Khee Xiang ok?

Just concentrate on your engineering job bro, it needs better attention. All the best to you. Sad to see so many negative comments for your article la, bro. Did you write that article, Ah Soon?


Eu Soon, you see, so many people condemning your English in Malaysian Insider. Should have got it edited before posting the article. Not nice la as we are English educated during those days. Malu a bit la for our alma mater.

Ong eu Soon

Sorry! I am mandarin educated. I will not feel sorry for my broken english the way you feel sorry for LGE.


I think LGE is not elected by few guys. So, give him a free hand please. Like the author said, submit your letter of opposing.

LGE is well respected all over Malaysia. If you can run down a leader for the sack of just a proposal (not yet a mistake). I think you can offer yourself to stand in to fight head to head with LGE in the next GE.


You can have very decent conferences in hotels. Exhibitions are another matter altogether. You will require specialized facilities. The question the Penang govt must ask is who do they intend to attract? Which industry? Are these events sustainable, repeatable? Do we have sufficient infrastructure to support large events? Does the government have a marketing program lined up to fill the halls? This is not the era where ‘they will come if you build it’, and answer a whole lot of other very expensive if-you-get-it-wrong questions and when that happens we will have to figure out what to do with another… Read more »

Chin T L

I’m a Penangnite and I support this move. Penang needs all this infrastructure to boost its economic activities. The economic impact of building toilets and other amenities are not sufficent to boost the Penang economy. The economic impact of building the convention center will boost the tourism and hotel industry.It will create more jobs. It will also allows the international businessmen to visit Penang. This will facilitate further FDI into Penang. The ROI for 50 million investment is definitely worth it. I’m not saying Penang state should forgo the the suggestions you have made. It is their responsibility to ensure… Read more »


Dear SH Tan.

Can you please name the person?

Frankly, I wish they would use the money to repair council roads and public amenities. I don’t blame the local government for the bad condition of the coastal road which is under federal jurisdiction. However, the state must pay attention to municipal roads and drains in housing estates, many of which have gradually deteriorated since the PR government took power.

I don’t want money for maintenance being used to spend on some grandiose project.