Fencing up the Commons: Steel mesh fencing around Dato Keramat padang


This field was a legacy of nutmeg planter David Brown, business partner of James Scott, who in turn was a business crony of Francis Light. It was given to the Penang public as an urban green space. In the past, Penangites would play football, fly kites, jog around this space.

But now, blog visitor tunglang reports:

David Brown ‘donated’ 12 acres of Padang for all to freely walk in and enjoy.

Now it is ‘cosmopolitan-ly’ upgraded and fenced up.

Padang Brown (Padang Dato Keramat) was once an open field with 360° access without any barrier fencing. As a popular venue for Third Division matches, it was a footballer’s dream field in its early days, notwithstanding the flooding after a downpour – which made bola sepak a macho and fun game of kicks, shin tackles and body slides on slippery grass and muddy water.

But today, you see no Third Division battles; neither do you spot any souls strolling around. No cheers of kaki bola-gila bola by the roadside of Jalan Dato Keramat in the late afternoon.

steel mesh fence around Dato Keramat padang

Instead, the field stands forlorn like a Guantanamo Bay detention camp with a perimeter steel fencing, three sliding gates and narrow slit entrances through which a Sumo wrestler can hardly squeeze.


Then there was the the much publicised upgrading work in 2013 which, it was claimed, would solve the flooding problem in the Padang.

But after a heavy downpour last Sunday morning, the field was waterlogged both inside & outside of the fencing.

Q: How come Padang Brown is still waterlogged (after a morning downpour) since it was upgraded with underground pipes (which it was claimed would prevent future flooding after a downpour) and returfed at a cost of RM1 million, putting it out of use for five month (October 2012 – February 2013)?

The Star had reported in January 2013:

The public field, located between Jalan Datuk Keramat and Jalan Anson, was dug up by the council in October to lay underground pipes.

Laying underground pipes in Dato Keramat padang - Photograph: The Star
Laying underground pipes in Dato Keramat padang – Photograph: The Star

The pipes, which cost almost RM1mil, are to prevent the field from being flooded. The move was initiated following complaints of the field being waterlogged after downpours which hampered sports activities.

And yet, this was the scene recently:

waterlogged Dato Keramat field


Q: For what earthly purpose do we have such ‘unfriendly’ fencing? Has Penang succumbed to fencing-mania?

Q: Is Padang Brown, a public playing field, the right place for hosting a weekly pasar malam of thousands of human footprints and stalled vehicle tyre tracks which are potentially damaging to both grass and top soil?

Padang Brown is better left alone in its original ‘playing field’ state envisioned by Brown than to make it ‘unwelcoming’ in the name of cosmopolitan upgrading and fencing.

“They claim this mother of ours, the Earth, for their own use, and fence their neighbors away from her, and deface her with their buildings and their refuse.” -Quote by Sitting Bull

My comments:

Rationale for project?

From what I hear from someone in MBPP, the council put up the fence because it apparently wants to encourage more people to play football at the Dato Keramat padang. (So that the ball won’t fly out?)

Another possible reason: The fence is to prevent vehicles from entering and spoiling the field.

But there are hardly any vehicles around. If they do enter, they can just be issued summonses, can’t they.

From what I hear, the decision to put up the fence was made by a department within MBPP and was not brought to the councillors’ attention.

How much is this fencing contract worth?

project notice board for Dato Keramat padang fencing

Is the MBPP trying to prove that it can go one up on the JKR, which has been putting up metal railings all over the place, including around little neighbourhood parks and greens?

Another dubious project under our contract-driven model of development with little public consultation and participatory decision-making…

Said one activist:

“Penang lacks public open spaces. The structure and local plans have identified the lack of public open spaces and recreational facilities, but there has been no serious attempt to identify the different kinds of parks such as neighbourhood parks, town parks, and urban parks.

“Penang has a serious shortfall even by the modest standards of the structure and local plans, which are much less than the recommendations of the Town and Country Planning Department. Proposals that 30 per cent of all reclamation land be public parks and recreational facilities are not considered seriously.

“The state through PDC is still trying to sell the Jelutong dump site as residential land.”

And the few open spaces we have… why, there are itchy fingers that want to pour concrete on them, put up useless structures or fence them up with railings, steel mesh or walls.

The Big Picture: The Fencing Up of the Commons

What is happening here is nothing less than the literal fencing up of the Commons – the appropriation of public spaces to serve whose interests? Where there is money $$$ to be made, the concept of public amenities and open green spaces is thrown out of the window.

Then there is the difficulty in securing public access to the entire beach front. Now that we have waterfront residential properties opening up into the sea, how is the public to have access to the waterfront? Are such waterfront properties even legal under the National Land Code?

Just look at this area in front of Dewan Sri Pinang, before they put up any metal fencing … lovely public space. In recent times, people even gathered here for various vigils such as the anti-ISA vigils a fews ago.


But we can’t have open spaces like that in Penang, can we? How can we pamper the public like that?

The Dewan Sri decided to fence up much of this area, which was once an open space. And now it is largely off-limits to the public.

Dewan Sri
Up went the fences a few years ago – and more concrete

What next? Hmm, let’s see… the existing wall along the perimeter of the Esplanade, put up only a few years ago, does not look high enough. How about we call for a tender and award a juicy contract to put up tall steel mesh fencing or better still a Great Wall around the Esplanade. And while we are at it, why not we put barbed wire and electric fencing and cctv cameras on top of the wall …. you know, for public safety and to prevent motor vehicles from entering the field.



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Najib in his RMK11 to develop four major cities, namely KL, Johor Baharu, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu, as growth catalyst cities in order to maximise benefits for the residents and to stimulate national development.

Najib knew that the only way to regain Penang is to stop developing the island, hence exclude it?

Stephen Tan Ban Cheng

Atan, the choice of the four cities is very political – Kota Kinabalu in Sabah and Kuching in Sarawak, where the Barisan Nasional vote banks are, Kuala Lumpur, the Federal Territory belonging to the federal government itself and where it is in control, and Johore Baru, a hitherto Umno stronghold. Penang, poor Penang is given the Cinderella treatment. So where are we going to get our shoes? Wait for the fairy godmother?

gk ong

Geerakan Teng or MCA Chew must be reading this blog and have noted the unhappy voices of the likes of Yang, isupercally and tunglang that do not like development on Penang island, and provided the feedback to Jibby.

English Teacher

Hey, gk otak! People are not happy with unsustainable development, not all development.
Understand plain English???

Stephen Tan Ban Cheng

I suspect that perverse people are within our midst, English Teacher. Best to ignore these people. Yes, do feel sorry for them and their perversity.


When the brains are intoxicated with all manners of overt-worshipping of CAT Idol, any goes is acceptable beyond reasons & common sense. If Cement Associated Development (CAT) is so good, far-sighted, vision (or is it tunnel vision) led, people-first leadership, & truly environmental caring, why are we facing problems today? Why are residents angry & some frustrated at the kind of development taking place at our expense? If property / land development alone can create ‘real’ affordable home ownership, distribute wealth & generate happiness for the masses, we don’t need to eat cement & glass. But this is only the… Read more »


Ha Ha! One little poke from Ong can stir an hornet’s nest!

They should ask if Jibby is fair to Penang. Maybe Jibby is still upset over the ‘Do you want Psy’ incident ?

ajith v

Ah Jib Nor has screwed Penang big time.
He failed to get support from Penangites despite all the free makan and Psy antics.
Shame to those who still cannot wake up from this simple fact to continue to 1M4U to Ah Jib Kor.

So Ah Jib Kor now want to safeguard his fixed depositors in Sabah and Sarawak who can be easily deceived by BR1M.


Amid all the uncaring and hypocritical attitude of the CAT on destroying the environment with unwarranted fast track development and denying the people of open space of greenery, now we could see even more hypocrisy on the Heritage of Penang being slowly destroyed. Penang lukewarm about preserving heritage status Sadly, it looks as though all heritage buildings outside the main heritage zone in Penang is fair game for redevelopment. http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/highlight/2015/05/21/penang-lukewarm-about-preserving-heritage-status/ After a mere RM 6,000 fine was imposed on the developer Klassik Tropika for the demolition of the bungalow, the Penang Municipal Council (MPPP) took the unprecedented step of issuing… Read more »


This ‘legalised’ donation, Chinese typically call it “buah lau-ho chhui”. In this case, more precisely, “buah Niao Kong chhui”.
There may be more “buah Niao Kong chhui” in the coming months.

CEO Maestro

GOT $ just help the underprivileged ones so can zzz zzz no bad dream of NiauKong……


CEO Maestro. Talk is easy. You got money, do your part. While we hunt the Niao Kong! No letting up.


CEO Maestro. Comes year end (December), there may be another massive flooding in the East Coast states.
Will you be around to donate your surplus money that makes the world go round?
I will wait for you to appear with your $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ to fulfil your claim: $ MAKES THE WORLD GO ROUND AND ROUND

CEO Maestro

Donate from heart don’t need publicity. Good to know you follow my act.


When you see any CAT’s politician jumping like mad over demolition of heritage assets e.g. Prai market in Bagan Dalam,
look up the sky & you may see puppet strings choreographing the antics of such wayang politicians.

There will be more venues for such sandiwaras, such as the Hungry Ghost Month’s ko tai in inner city George Town.
Btw, pls brush up your Teochew if you want to sound convincing on stage even to the hungry ghosts of empty condos & apartments.
“Le thhhiahh guuaaaaa ehhh lek-suuuuuuuuuuuuuu. Le an-chuaaa poeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!
SFX: Cheng, cheng, cheng, cheng, cheng.

Tan Wee Theng

Hey, Tunglang, I take offence of your remarks. I think it is very unnecessary. 1. Have you seen children rushing onto busy roads to collect footballs? 2. Have you seen motorists trying to avoid running over footballs? 3. Normally, the open field is shared among many groups of youngsters. Each group will pick an small area, usually near the edge of the field to be the pitch. 4. A few nights ago, it was raining very heavily for many hours. Manholes along Macalister Road were flapping from beneath by gushing drain water. If your photos of flooded field were taken… Read more »

Penang Plumber

If underground pipes that promised to drain away rain water from field cannot work wonders, why wasted public money?


And remember how the CAT people boast there will be no flood after they take over. Well after 6 years and spending more than 15 millions its still the same. And you know what, they blame it on the Federal govt. This is what the CAT is really good, blame blame blame or in chinese its what we call, Seh Luar eh


First photo taken: 11:35am
Last photo taken: 12:08pm
Btw, morning rain stopped at 9+am.
That’s about 2 hrs after the last drops of rain when I shot the Padang. At 12:08pm i.e. after 3 hrs the flood water didn’t seem to receded at all.
That makes no difference to what I experienced in the 60s Francis Light Primary School when its padang was flooded which took about 3-6 hrs to dry in the morning, and then it was no scorching sun like what we have today.

What magic pipes are these underground?

Sam yoong

When you put up fenced, the thrill is gone like what Blues great BBKing would sing.

Sam yoong

Penang past great footballers include N Baskaran who played better footballer on public fields not fenced up those days. Anil can one day pay tributes to those footballers who play their hearts out for the state blog for money.

Sam yoong

Tunglang probably prefers watching netball in his younger 70s data otherwise he can write dongeng tales of Penang city stadium marvelous heroes mentioned by Anil.


Too free, nothing better to comment? zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzsamboring.


Ivory properties csr sponsors RM3 million to develop Penang football academy. But where can youngsters play and develop the skills of there is no open green field? May be Penang like other states prefer to import foreign talent at the expense of local maestros?

By the way, may be I can pose this question to USM Prof Sivamurugan now I met him at Mamak Pelita shop at Sg2!

Don Anamalai

I think MBPP is trying to promote football in order for the Penang team to regain a spot in Liga Super.

A proper dressing room with toilet (Pandikar will agree) and shower facility should be built.


Penang state soccer team is not even in the top 3 of Malaysia League for many years since the retirement of Shukor Salleh. In the 70s & 80s, you could see Penang colors whenever there was a live telecast. Was it the time to blame the Padang for the past frequent flooding (so an excuse to upgrade with underground pipes) which led to the demise of Penang bola sepak? And the fencing to ‘cage in’ & discipline the players & ‘purify’ the Padang from nightly ‘sins’ of the city or more precisely Cosmopolitan? Ask any soccer player & he will… Read more »

gk ong

Should install floodlight for night football and to prevent any hanky panky maksiat activities in the dark. Penang used to have Isa and Ali Bakar (brothrrs) besides Shukor Salleh. There used to be a Chinese player but I could not recall his name. The present Brazilian coach can speak Malay, and could possibly unearth new talents in the Black Panthers? Look up for Singapore’s Fandi Ahmad’s son in the Singapore SEA games football squad. I think Malaysian football fans must have discipline and do not behave like Terengganu hooligans who could understand offside and have created havoc after losing to… Read more »

Stephen Tan Ban Cheng

Is this the same football coach who did not pay my taxi driver friend the fare due? Please check. He used to work in the Chinese Recreation Club, Penang.


Jacksen Tiago is the current Brazilian coach of Penang FA.

For more info on Penang FA and its history, check up:

Stephen Tan Ban Cheng

MIND THE “RAINWATER-RUNOFF” PRINCIPLE! What is happening to the non-elected but appointed municipal council of Penang and their employees, once the best paid employees in Penang enjoying the best terms of service including their very own provident fund and housing units in Green Lane before the Employees Provident Fund was started? Do they know what they are doing? A few years ago, I saw the work being done in Pagang Brown to prop up the level and then re-turf the ground. Whatever for? Spend money to create floods on the surrounding roads in the vicinity when the annual monsoon rains… Read more »

tan Wee Theng

Anil, obviously you are not a footballer nor a motorcyclist . You don’t realize the danger a flying football pose to passing cyclists. In addition, have you walked around the padang before posting this article. It is still very easy to walk onto the field, unless you are riding a motorcycle
You are also not a night owl, never witness couples on motorcycles entering the field to perform god know what. To me, fencing up the Padang is a jolly good idea. Next time, please walk around the area before posting, could you?.


Anil, the weekly pasar malam is no more at this Padang. At least the authorities know what is good field maintenance in this respect.

Stephen Tan Ban Cheng

Anil Netto, I am waiting for tan Wee Theng to comment on the levelling up of the padang and all its implications for floods and accidents during the next monsoon period. I hope I will be proved wrong.

gk ong

MBPP creates projek to sustain the bumi contractors?


Kindly open your eyes to see the 1st picture. There are two 20+ft tall green wire mesh ball barriers erected before this ‘Guantanamo Bay’ fencing came whistling along. One running parallel to Jalan Dato Keramat & another just behind the food court & polis station. These are sufficient ball barriers unless Penang footballers are soccer foot-loose. Obviously you seemed like a ‘night scoper’ who has never been to this Padang during broad daylight except at night to ‘scope’ on loving couples! How to see these 2 huge barriers at night? To get a ‘bigger picture’ of the state of Padang… Read more »