Someone from the Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce has said, “If you ask me or the young, they want Penang to be similar to Singapore and Hong Kong where there are plenty of economic prospects.”
Once again, we have a clash of competing visions for Penang. I asked half a dozen young private college students yesterday and none of them wanted Penang to emulate those two places. In fact, they looked a bit alarmed at the thought.
Another concerned Penangite, Lim Li Lian, who used to work in Hong Kong before returning to Penang, shares her opinion:
I think what we all want is:
- economic prosperity
- abundant nature
- uncongested roads
- vibrant life: arts, heritage, cuisine, sports, culture
Probably as a result of our education system people tend to only know how to copy others. We can have a Penang that is unique that we ourselves define.
We need to emphasise low density. This means the industries that we target in Penang should be the ones higher up the value chain.
So I think we can achieve those ideals above in a low population density environment, supported by a highly skilled labour force.
I also believe that a HUGE impediment to achieving those targets is the property market – how it has been turned into a pyramid scheme with developers and the super rich sitting at the top. Having such high prices I feel is choking economic activity.
Hong Kong, like Singapore, has very low taxes, 17% for personal and corporate. This is lauded as a huge reason for economic growth and prosperity. But what many don’t realise is that the rakyat are being taxed extremely heavily elsewhere through a different mechanism. It is like a consumption tax but it is on property.
This is because the Hong Kong government controls Hong Kong land supply. It earns revenue from land sales and also land reclamation to sell to developers (sound familiar?).
So although income taxes are low, the people are paying a huge amount of their incomes for rent or to buy property. Property prices keep moving up and up.
The Hong Kong government sits at the top and controls land prices. One tier below sit the developers who bid for the land at auctions.
The Hong Kong people have no choice but to work hard to afford housing. And I suspect Penang state is trying to raise revenue this way as well.
P.S. I used to work in Hong Kong. When I came back here and managed my local business ‘Hong Kong’ style, it definitely did not sit well with the local staff. Penang people definitely don’t want Hong Kong and all the sacrifices that come with it.
Lim Li Lian is a mother of two.
Penang at the crossroads of success: PCCC
Posted on 22 May 2018 – 01:56pm
Last updated on 22 May 2018 – 03:06pm
GEORGE TOWN: Penang needs to define what future path the state wants to take following the thumping victory earned by Pakatan Harapan in the 14th general election, said a corporate captain here.
The crossroads here is whether Penang wants to follow the course of Hong Kong and Singapore by becoming an island-centric metropolis or to be a heritage city in the mode of Vienna in Austria.
Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce vice – president Datuk Finn Choong said that this is a course which new Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow may need to underline as Malaysia moves ahead in the Pakatan – era of governance.
“If you ask me or the young, they want Penang to be similar to Singapore and Hong Kong where there are plenty of economic prospects. The young want to enjoy a good quality of life in Penang,” he said.
As such, he said Penang needs to define itself clearly now, so the business of growing the economy and in meeting the state’s potential as a global city can be achieved.
Speaking to theSun, Choong said that if Penang wants to be similar to Singapore or Hong Kong, the state needs to undertake the necessary infrastructure upgrade.
Choong, who is the eldest son of badminton great Datuk Eddy Choong, who had passed on in 2013, said that to be in the mould of Vienna, there is a need to place greater emphasis on conservation and preservation policies.
Ideally, a balance of both would be great, but the state needs to urgently undertake segments of the proposed Penang Transport Masterplan
“This is to ease the current suffocating rate of traffic congestion here,” he said.
In Penang, Choong believes that the young opted for a change because it wants the state to become a thriving city so they can stay and work here.
“Parents definitely want to be near their children; even more their grandchildren. But for this to be realized; there must be a push for higher economic growth.”
He added that the state should give priority to constructing the three paired highways linking Air Itam, Gurney Drive and Batu Ferringhi to the Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway soon.
Choong said other aspects of the RM27 billion masterplan can be done in stages – since Penang had announced that it was a 50-year-old plan to alleviate congestion.
Choong was referring to the immediate plans by the Chow – led state government, who wants to expedite discussions with the federal authorities to plough ahead with plans to conceive the projects listed under the transport masterplan.
Among which, is the reclamation of some 30,000 ha of land across the Penang International Airport in Bayan Lepas.
It was previously met with a sharp rebuke by the Penang Forum, a loosely based gathering of civil society activists and organisations.