Penang Forum applauds city council’s attempt to clear George Town’s five-foot ways

An obstructed pedestrian walkway in George Town - Photograph:

Penang Forum released this statement  yesterday, 6 October 2016 – but I didn’t notice any coverage of this in the media.

Syabas! Penang Forum would like to record our support for and the appreciation of the Penang Island City Council’s attempt to make Penang safer for pedestrians and more liveable for all users. 

Pedestrian walkways or ‘five-foot-ways’ have always upheld the public’s right of way, and it was only neglect and political reluctance that allowed the present situation to develop. The law should be enforced strictly, particularly in the George Town world heritage site.

Besides protecting pedestrians from rain and sun, shop fronts will become more accessible and attractive to potential customers. A linkage and sense of community develops along an unobstructed connection, and the covered walkway provides safety from snatch thieves on motorbikes.

Some things cannot be done overnight, and it may not be possible to change practices which have been allowed to develop over the years.

Penang Forum would like to suggest the following strategy:

Implementation by area

To start with streets without new pedestrian walkways and most heavily used by pedestrians i.e. Chulia Street, Little India, Campbell Street and Kimberley Street

Education and information

  • Most traders have used the five-foot-way for trading purposes for a long time; they may not understand that the five-foot-way is for public use.
  • Simple pamphlets explaining the long term advantages of having clear five-foot-ways should be drawn up and distributed to all.
  • The legal status of the five-foot-way should be explained.
  • The advantages of the public being able to access shop fronts should be explained: it would be more appealing and pleasant for shoppers, which would translate to better business.
  • A warning that enforcement will follow should be given

Phased enforcement

Solid walls and fences

  • Warning letters should be issued to those who have erected solid walls or fences with a time-frame for removal stipulated (as has been done in Chulia Street).
  • Fines for non-removal should be imposed.
  • Physical demolition and removal of walls should be carried out by enforcement officers.

Obstruction of walkways with goods and furniture

  • Educational pamphlets should be distributed requesting shop-owners to keep clear a narrow path, sufficient for the public to walk, in front of their shops. This is a compromise situation where business practices continue but the public has access.
  • A time frame for this partial clearing should be made known.
  • Warning letters should be issued.
  • Fines should be imposed for not clearing obstructed walkways and physical removal should be carried out by enforcement officers

Continued enforcement

  • Monthly enforcement should be conducted to ensure that the walkways are kept clear.
  • The imposition of fines and removals should become standard procedure.

Motorcycles on walkways

This has become a common practice due to :

  • lack of enforcement, and
  • insufficient motorbike parks.

Given the increase in motorcycles, the city council should review the number of motorcycle parks in George Town and position them at close and regular intervals. Enforcement should be conducted regularly and without fear or favour.

Penang Forum assures the city council of its support in this endeavour and in any other matter that will make the George Town world heritage site a better, safer and more liveable city.


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Frankie Cheah

5 Foot Way or 五脚基 is well explained (it’s origin, and its current situation in Singapore) in this Singapore MediaCorp report:
《创造新视线》五脚基 新商机


where does the 5 FOOT way comes about? just pluck out for easy during british time. 5 foot way meant for 2 persons passage and people now do not think is enough. So is 250ft height restructed zone. where does 250ft comes from? just like 5kaki. pg lang please do not call beh cheah lor or horse carriage road as when pg has. horses.


It would have been designed as 6 foot way if potted plant is allowed there.


My gosh! 5-foot way to 6-foot way!
Even the British are so used to 5-foot way, not 6-foot way.
What good reason for a 6-foot way when we Asians are no bigger than the Brits!
Go visit some of the 5-foot way with potted plants placed at the frontage.
Unless one is so fat & needs to tango just to walk a 6-foot way!!!

Mannan Thalapathi

Kaki Lima is common public area. The owner of the shoplots should not create barriers like parking motorbikes, business carts, etc.

Need BIG political will to create open space kaki 5 ! If not, the road already jammed with motor vehicles and where can old folks like me to walk safely when kaki 5 is not meant for free flow pedestrian paths!


Ask MBPP or Penang Forum send people go and clean the kaki-lima every morning as well, if that is a public use area, public use area will caused 100 times dirty than private area, don’t be empty talks and suggest, you need to contribute your part also. Talks is cheap.


A democratic, uncorrupted municipality should detailed bylaws for public infrastructure important to pedestrians, e.g. corridors (5-foot-ways), sidewalks, road crossings (including the timing of traffic lights, instead of useless overhead bridges), road dividers, bus stops, toilets. Where private propertry is involved as in the case of corridors, the state gomen should change the laws and add the condition into the property title. 60 years after independence, we have enforcement authorities deflecting the scandals they cannot suppress by making vague threats, calling for complaints, setting up dysfunctional hotlines, paying for lucrative PR campaigns, etc. Not even the cutting of grass or cleaning… Read more »

wang lei

Sad to say pedestrians are not respected by motorists who seem to think that they have the right of way, more so with a bigger vehicle.


4wd even bigger ego and bully


Machete-wielding robber chops teen’s hand off, steals ring Anil, sorry for the intrusion. With regards to crimes (now quite rampant & bloody), these can also happen along the goh kaki, even if it’s ‘off-road’. And not so noticeable esp. at night if one walks & gets mugged along the goh kaki of Campbell Street as an example. These ‘kap chai’ robbers can easily dismount from their bikes to launch an attack. Night time is not a safe walking along goh kaki esp. the ones not lit. Suggestion: more CCTVs along the roads with goh kaki for 24hr monitoring more… Read more »


you can write to ask for rela since you support the ban of pg purple shirts. write to putrajaya to resurrect rt. they are zombie now. you pay taxes. to putrajaya for safeguard.


No need RT, just bring back PPS.


To protect your Niao Kong???


One fact of some 5-foot ways (goh kaki) is the potting of plants.
Are these pots to go?
Pls allow these to remain as long as they don’t obstruct the pathways.
Adding greens is not only refreshing, these outdoor plants help to ‘cleanse’ the air of negative ions.
Have you not heard of urban forest?

Kabali Tanjung Bagan

I support urban green but if the pots of plants are not well taken care of they are ugly sights that invite negative vibes, also cats and dogs like to dispose stuff over there to create foul smell.

Why not hang the plants at safety height not obstructing pedestrians?


Go visit some of the goh kaki (7 Streets, heritage sites, Madras Lane, etc) to ‘learn’ how they do it for decades even before Merdeka.
Hanging pots is very impractical! And dangerous if & when one of them decides to ‘bungee jump’.
One place to enjoy goh kaki pots of plants is Bangkok Lane, a place of Secret Gardens.

Satu Hati Multiple Lobangs

Goh kaki are meant for pedestrians.

Want to enjoy plants go to Botanical Gardens, Spice Garden or even better Entopia.


You never seem to experience living in George Town with greeneries.
All you want is cement!!!
Go get a Life!


why not build tree top houses and stay up there?


Very difficult to draw the line when you start making exceptions.


Agree with Saljeet. Exactly why the country is in the toilet.


You have nothing constructive for this topic except to spin.
What a pity!


Also agree with Baljit that we need to spice up the island not with cats but with sexy stuffs!


Have you visit some of the goh kaki with plants in George Town?
Or you prefer nothing but cement that dries your soul!
Go take a walk in George Town where greeneries along goh kaki don’t necessarily obstruct path ways but give an air of freshness to an otherwise dry environment, more so in a Cosmopolitan Pretension.


fully support you. people in public housing start to paint different external colours. what happen if owners do not take care of plants. sandy soil spill on the passage way and ah pek fell. same with watering and water on floor.


Also very, very difficult to draw a line when someone (idolised) bought a bungalow at cheapo price?


Keep Penang Clean from greedy traders!

Kabali Tanjung Bagan

Chulia Street kaki 5 is the worst, too many obstruction as mentioned, to the extent that pedestrians at times hVe to walk with caution on the road beware of bring knocked down by Rapid bus!

My support to clear up the path along the pavements meant for pedestrians.

Thumbs up for CATS!