Penang in a rut: Is the RM46bn ‘PTMP’ the answer?

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Here are two articles by Loh-Lim Lin Lee and Mike Tan, which provide a more realistic, alternative perspective of the unsustainable development model in Penang. These pieces are in response to an article “Penang’s curse” by a Nisha Sharma in Free Malaysia Today. Take the time to read and mull over the two responses below.

Dear Nisha

You may be forgiven for your lack of in-depth knowledge about Penang since you left a long time ago and only come back on holidays and are inconvenienced by traffic jams.

Civil society groups are totally supportive of public transport. In fact, we were the ones urging the setting up of the Penang Transport Council – as seen by the calling up of many members from civil society to sit in the council. It led to the Halcrow report, which was meant to be the basis for the future transport planning of Penang.

The current so-called “PTMP” is a total bastardisation of the Halcrow report. The “PTMP” is not based on Penang’s needs but on developers’ profits. It prioritises elevated highways, cutting through Penang’s hills and various highly overpriced systems that are not suitable for Penang.

The cloth should be cut to fit the wearer. We are an island of less than one million blessed with hills, rivers and trees. Give us a system that suits us. All civil society wants and what we fight for is an efficient at-grade (ie street-level) ART bus or tram – cheaper, faster low-hanging fruits. We want policies discouraging cars, visionary planning that is not linked to land reclamation and housing developers.

Construction costs are among the highest the country has seen. Does it not ring any bells for you? Why persist with an exorbitant tunnel we can’t afford; why tunnel through hills when we can’t manage an elevated highway without incurring deaths and disaster?

Penang is being sold to the highest bidder offering the most audacious unsuitable and most expensive schemes. Instead of the vibrant Penang that you think we will get with “PTMP”, you will see a state crushed by debt and suffering Penangites.

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Loh-Lim Lin Lee is a veteran Penang-based activist.

Penang’s curse is the government’s shame

by Mike Tan

I wish to address some points raised in a recent article by FMT reader Nisha Sharma entitled “Penang’s curse”.

Nisha writes: “First the critics were against the LRT, then the highways, and now, reclamation. The initial complaint was over the use of taxpayers’ money. The state then came up with a plan to build the LRT and highways through revenue earned from reclamation. That, too, is not acceptable.”

Nisha is wrong.

The truth is, the Penang government wants taxpayers – not only from Penang, but the entire country – to pay for the building of the first phase of the Pan Island Link (PIL1). The Penang government has requested a loan of RM1bn from the federal government to finance the “PTMP”, specifically the PIL1 project. Where does the federal government gets its funds? From taxpayers.

In addition, the PIL1 highway will be toll-free; yet its many tunnels and the road itself will require maintenance and incur operational costs. Who will bear those costs? The Penang government. And where does the Penang government get its funds from, ultimately? From taxpayers.

So the initial complaint still stands: taxpayers’ money will be used for the project, no matter what.

Secondly, Nisha writes: “Yes, we do need fish on our dining table but when the bigger players come to the fore with modern facilities to bring in 10 times more catch in half the time and cost, will the traditional fishermen be able to survive?”

Again, Nisha is wrong.

Improvements in technology do not equal positive benefits. You don’t need to be an expert to know this. Just watch “Wicked Tuna: North vs South”, which is being aired on the National Geographic channel, and you will learn that although fishermen have the latest in technology and gadgets, they can only land a single tuna fish per vessel per day.

READ MORE:  Why an independent review of the RM46bn SRS transport proposal is needed

Why? Because of the quota set by the Fisheries Department due to depleted fish stocks. And why are fish stocks depleted? Because of overfishing in previous decades due to improvements in technology! Hauling 10 times more catch will lead to unsustainable fishing and will cause our oceans to be depleted.

What will ensure there is fish in the seas are suitable breeding grounds for fish to spawn and grow till adulthood and management of fisheries that emphasises sustainability. That means the protection of mangrove areas as most fish species caught for our food breed and grow in mangrove areas before moving on to the sea in their adulthood.

Nisha’s article reflects the mentality of the general public quite accurately. Most Malaysians lack the time and inclination to do a bit more research to understand topics, especially relating to the environment. This results in knee-jerk responses that focus on simple arguments which do not stand up to scrutiny and common sense.

Many Malaysians want things and results fast, without considering any other factors. Perhaps we have become a consumer society where we always think that we – the customers – are right, and that everyone should pander to our wants first and foremost.

As a society, we should try our best to educate ourselves and each other. We should also spend time learning about various topics, not just stick to those that concern us or have a direct impact on us. Otherwise, we are likely to end up as a self-centred, egocentric and materialistic community.

A society is led by its leaders. In Malaysia, and Penang for that matter, leadership roles tend to be dominated by political figures. They lead, and most of the time, Malaysians follow. So if Penang is in a rut, then the Penang government – and the politicians in it – are to be blamed.

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The Penang government should provide firm leadership in areas that are important for the sustainability of the state and not champion mega projects that it deems important for its “legacy”.

Which is more important to Penangites: water supply or an LRT system? The Penang government has yet to ensure that water supply to the state is protected: the Ulu Muda catchment area has yet to be protected, and logging still happens there. Talk of a tri-state effort to protect the region has died down, largely due to the states’ demands that compensation be given by the federal government to Kedah.

What is funny is that the Penang government is also asking for RM1bn from the federal government for its highway project. If the state government is so concerned about securing the water supply from Ulu Muda, shouldn’t it use the RM1bn to compensate Kedah instead of earmarking it for a transport project?

I wholeheartedly agree with Nisha that Penang is in a rut, but I think that the government is the party responsible for putting the state there. After all, it was elected to administer the state.

Instead of concrete plans to boost the state in aspects such as the economy, tourism, industry, agriculture, fishery, social and cultural sectors, the Penang government has decided to pour RM46bn into a single sector: transport.

How much is spent to boost Penang’s economy? How much for tourism? How much for agriculture? What about fishery? Social and cultural programmes?

It seems that the transport sector is the most important sector to the Penang government, based on the amount of investment. If the Penang government can spend RM46 billion on the transport sector, common sense would insist that it is spending much more on more important sectors. But it is not.

So much money, so little imagination and creativity in planning and organising. What a shame. Does it make sense at all?

Penangites, I am sure that any of you can think of better ways to spend RM46bn to improve Penang. Currently, the Penang government’s best idea is to reclaim three islands, build an LRT system and a 20km road from north to south of the island. Can you seriously believe that these three projects can help improve your life as Penangites? Do share with all of us, especially your fellow Penangites.

Here’s a challenge for every Penangite: how would you spend RM46bn on Penang? I think it’s time for you to tell the state government how to spend your hard-earned money properly.

Mike Tan is a former associate editor of The Ant Daily.

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Song
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Song

The Singapore Government has accepted the recommendations of the 2040 Land Transport Master Plan advisory panel, which includes building three more MRT lines so that eight in 10 Singaporeans will be within a 10-minute walk of an MRT station by 2030.

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/new-mrt-lines-planned-to-put-more-singaporeans-within-10-minute-11322334

“a 10-minute walk of an MRT station” is a norm for Singaporeans. Car-pampered Penangites could be reluctant to walk even 5 mins to the proposed LRT station?

tunglang
Guest
tunglang

Malaysian town Taiping ranked #3 in world’s most sustainable cities at awards
https://malaysia.yahoo.com/news/malaysian-town-taiping-ranked-3-085952792.html

A gem of sustainable town with soul, nature & peaceful living (Taiping means peaceful).
For those who live shrieking their lives or scheming he-he-he, tis the place to change for the better. You know, each of us has only one life.
Even my Orang Bunian friends in Belum Rainforest envy this peaceful town.

Wei
Guest
Wei

ya, half dead Taiping is most suitable for grumpy old man like you..please move there as soon as possible to show your love for that place…hehe

tunglang
Guest
tunglang

Either you have nothing good to share with us or you are just brain dead!
You should be moved to Purgatory where the he-he-he of demons ring 24/7/365!

Shriek
Guest

You only share with us kau beh kau bu

Wei
Guest
Wei

as good as Taiping is..i am afraid it is not suitable for your developer nephew….can’t make big bucks in sleepy Taiping to make his uncle proud…hehe

tunglang
Guest
tunglang

Still have nothing to contribute but spin to shiok sender.
Who cares to take in your rubbish comments???
Better spend your life sharing good things, constructive comments for the good instead of he-he-he-like demons.

Shriek
Guest

Yeah, whatever you contribute is only kau beh kau bu – complains only. What do you contribute about taiping? Everyone knows taiping means peace. You are just parroting.

Shriek
Guest

Why envy? Just migrate like migrate from heritage area to new condo.

tunglang
Guest
tunglang

Already you dare not meet the Orang Bunians, now talk so much!

Shriek
Guest

The orang bunians dare not to meet me

tunglang
Guest
tunglang

Are you sure???

Shriek
Guest

You are the one who talk much. Orang bunians dare not to meet me.

Black Mage
Guest
Black Mage

Penang hawker scene is heading for rut?

Penang food hawkers are an ageing population, and only 21% of those interviewed by Penang Institute have a definitive succession plan.

https://penanginstitute.org/publications/issues/making-food-hawking-in-penang-sustainable/

Wai Lao will take over?

Shriek
Guest

If tung land don’t save it, he will not have his one ton mee and lim kopi.

tunglang
Guest
tunglang

Penang situation about the same as SingLand BUT Pg hawkers are not given subsidised stall rents, stall equipment subsidy, hawker centres, etc. BUT still collect hawker licence fees regardless.
Pg state gomen wants to bask in the worldwide fame of street hawker cuisine (& food tourism) but care not to help local hawkers in terms of long term sustainability. B’cos hawkers cannot afford to donate an expensive DAP Rangoon Road HQ building…

Ah Nan
Guest
Ah Nan

In time to come hawkers in Penang can earn more money than an average graduate with a basic degree. People still need to eat even in recession, which is hitting us soon.

tunglang
Guest
tunglang

Provided stall space rentals don’t go up & food ingredients stay affordable. With weather freaking out (due to some shriekings?), prices of vegetables may go up.

Shriek
Guest

You only want chip chip like looking for chip one ton mee. In China and Vietnam where they grow and produce their food, the cook food is many times more expensive. The they shriek as they are willing to pay and eat outside. Not like tung land earns fat salary, can buy expansive shoe but want to eat chip one ton mee and cheap rental stall.

Song
Guest
Song

Singapore’s Michelin-star soy sauce chicken rice comes to Ipoh
https://www.malaymail.com/news/eat-drink/2019/03/15/singapores-michelin-star-soy-sauce-chicken-rice-comes-to-ipoh/1733004

The 53-year-old chef, Chan Hon Meng, who is from humble beginnings, said that he went to Singapore in 1988 to look for a job after the hawker stall in Ipoh where he was working closed. He worked in several hawker stalls and restaurants in Singapore, and learned to cook this dish from a Hong Kong chef at a restaurant. That is why the dish is called Hong Kong soy sauce chicken rice.

Shriek
Guest

Subsidies mentality? Want to be like Scandinavian countries?

tunglang
Guest
tunglang

Desperate SingLand did it, so what’s your problem? Jealous?

Wei
Guest
Wei

MaCAi party and Gelakan said good….

gk ong
Guest
gk ong

The children of Penang maestro/masterchef hawkers many migrate to ply their trade in Singapore. Sadly Wai Lao will take over as most hawker food will be halalised in Malaysia in the future.

tunglang
Guest
tunglang

gk ong, like your recall of ‘maestro’ (street food master chefs) since it has been a while street food passion has died down here.
This ‘maestro’ term came about when Pg street food was ‘hot’ in anilnetto.com in 2010 & I came out with this term to differentiate the original ones from the wannabes & HK, Japanese fusion food.

Mah HS
Guest
Mah HS

tunglang can rekindle street food talk, and help to publicize deserving hawkers to encourage local succession.

Wei
Guest
Wei

ok…blah blah blah…..when do you and your family want to give up your cars….??

Mah HS
Guest
Mah HS
Henry Yap
Guest
Henry Yap

More cars => roads, highways, PTMP!
Simple logic!

Black Mage
Guest
Black Mage
gk ong
Guest
gk ong

Don’t waste your money on car.
Buy a house instead!

tunglang
Guest
tunglang

More cars => roads, highways, PTMP
More state debts,
more state taxes (increase in assessment rates, etc),
more sea reclamations excused by lack of land for cars, car parks, highways – just to fund more roads, highways & PTMP v2.0,
more road rages, more shriekings on the roads, more violence,
more Fast + Furious driving on both 2 Pg Bridges causing more cars flipping into the sea,
more roads per state population: No. of roads per Penangite.

Shriek
Guest

More cars peng land lang has more cars means more money. It is You ditch your bicycle and no longer support boon siew kapcai. Instead you buy car and even a 4wd. You can afford to buy condo and support developer. Don’t be selling fish. You can buy 4wd and condo. Others also want developer to build condo to buy and roads for 4wd to ride.

Mah HS
Guest
Mah HS

China’s southern Hainan island will end sales of fossil fuel-only cars in 2030, officials said, becoming the first province to announce a target end date for a transition away from gas guzzlers.

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/business/china-s-hainan-province-to-end-fossil-fuel-car-sales-in-2030-11317044

Penang can learn from Hainan to get out of rut.

Wei
Guest
Wei

why no getting rid of cars altogether ?so cars still needed, road and highways still needed ?! Penang forum and horde of other green warriors must be damn disappointed…hehe

Penang1
Guest
Penang1

You sound like a broken record.

Wei
Guest
Wei

hehe, I have been urging the holier than thou NGOs to lead by example rather than talk cock only for so long that it start to sound like broken record now..

tunglang
Guest
tunglang

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Shriek
Guest

Grumpy old man

Shriek
Guest

Now who use record? Only apply to tung land. His time, elvis King.

tunglang
Guest
tunglang

Spin again! I don’t even have one record, so eat your idiot words now!

Shriek
Guest

Tung land, can you show me I said you have records? But you break record for greatest spinner. Now a days who uses record except you break the records. You are greatest spinner because to listen to elvis King, and one has to spin the record in your pelvis days.

gk ong
Guest
gk ong

After reading the article by Jocelyn Tan on Sunday Star today (https://www.thestar.com.my/opinion/columnists/analysis/2019/03/10/new-malay-axis-rattles-pakatan-almost-every-state-in-the-peninsula-with-the-exception-of-penang-will/), I believe Penang will not be in the rut especially after GE15 since it should be save from Umno-PAS domination.

Ma jiji
Guest
Ma jiji

The uncontrollable Airbnb in Penang’s high-rise condo is worrying. Many of them are now even turning into a mess !

Mah HS
Guest
Mah HS

GEORGE TOWN, March 6 — A group of tenants who were evicted from the Taman Manggis people’s housing project (PPR) held a peaceful protest in front of the project before marching to Komtar in anger after their units were sealed today.
https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/03/06/evicted-taman-manggis-tenants-march-to-komtar-in-protest/1729656

Ma jiji
Guest
Ma jiji

Ah ! Penang govt can accommodate them in the white elephant – Komtar ?! Since there’s so much and almost “Empty Space” everywhere !

Elvin Ang
Guest
Elvin Ang

Jagdeep previously said the evictions were enforced on those found ineligible for the PPR units meant for the hardcore poor earning less than RM1,500 per household per month.

Those found to own properties, have foreign spouses and owed large sums of rental arrears without taking steps to pay are also disqualified.

Mah HS
Guest
Mah HS

The People’s Housing Project (PPR) saga has taken an interesting twist after a woman, who is part of the group protesting eviction from her flat, was identified as a MAS business class traveller.

https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2019/03/08/you-flew-business-class-woman-in-lowcost-ppr-flat-courts-controversy/#Bf9USFmLQtgXasTK.99

Xi Qiong
Guest
Xi Qiong

Got see FB or not? That lady fly on MAS Biz class but still need PPR?

Shriek
Guest

Komtar build by chong EU. Why the bldg was designed by his singland relative?

Henry Yap
Guest
Henry Yap

Entitlement mentality.

Shriek
Guest

Everything chip chip and free free like one ton mee.

Elvin Ang
Guest
Elvin Ang

Penang is a rut to them.
They should migrate to Kelantan.

Shriek
Guest

Susu teh aka milk teh said he will go to ke lan tan

Wei
Guest
Wei

you are tenants.. meaning you need to pay..so if you don’t pay up you move out..nobody owe you a living…simple as that…so..why the hoo ha ??

Shriek
Guest

Chip or free like tung land looking for one ton mee

Wei
Guest
Wei

hehe…Taman Manggis “B40” resident flew business class….yeah right more affordable housing for these people please..and RM1800 min wages for them..Anil, good?

Selvi
Guest
Selvi

Should give priority to B10. Many B40 are bogus.

Shriek
Guest

Peng land must have a lot of tourists. Peng lang is harvesting the $£€¥. Food on table no worries now. Very free and can goyangtogive comments.

Mah HS
Guest
Mah HS

Penang in a rut? How about migrating to nearby Taiping? Same Hokkien society with lower cost of living.

Now Taiping has been recognised as among the top three sustainable cities in the world.

The recognition was given during the 2019 Sustainable Top 100 Destination Awards at the International Tourismus-Börse (ITB) travel trade show in Berlin, Germany on Wednesday (Mar 6).

https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2019/03/07/taiping-is-no-3-most-sustainable-city-in-the-world/#4omo3Y5ovhvI4KdS.99

tunglang
Guest
tunglang

I just hope Taiping will not be polluted by stress-shriekings & he-he-he drunkards after many will migrate there just like George Town after UNESCO recognition!

Shriek
Guest

Same with kau beh kau bu people who drinks too much vodka

Wei
Guest
Wei

hehe…i have no major dissatisfaction with the way penang is run, why should i move?..on the other hand I wonder why the one kau beh kau boh all day and all night didnt move … to his dreamland…how come ar??

tunglang
Guest
tunglang

So you spin again useless comparison! Everyone has a choice but no to spoil a good place like Taiping with the shriekings & he-he-he noise pollution. Now, do you still understand what I said? Or are you guilty?

Shriek
Guest

Tung land old man not willing to accept other’s opinion and right to say. Himself wants to spin like Crawley spider only.

Shriek
Guest

Show many tourists coming. Peng land lang busy collecting $£€¥¢

Song
Guest
Song

MAS is in the rut.

Shutting down troubled Malaysia Airlines (MAS) is an option the government should consider in light of its repetitive legacy issues, said former Khazanah MD Tan Sri Mohd Sheriff Mohd Kassim.

https://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2019/03/12/mahathir-weighing-shutdown-or-sale

Can sell MAS to PRC to enable turnaround like Proton, since 2 angmoh CEOs have failed so far.

tunglang
Guest
tunglang

ACTUALLY, WHO IS IN A RUT? Developers caught in rut as demand for affordable housing higher than supply, with expensive homes unsold https://malaysia.yahoo.com/news/developers-caught-rut-demand-affordable-010622239.html KUALA LUMPUR, March 9 — Malaysian property developers face the conundrum of more expensive houses remaining unsold even as demand exceeds the supply of affordable housing. The Straits Times reported that only a quarter of homes launched nationwide between 2016 to March 2018 cost under RM250,000, and for the first time in a decade the overall House Price Index fell on a quarterly basis last year. Home prices on average have hit RM773,000 in KL and RM497,000… Read more »

YB Loh Penang Swimming Club Chairman
Guest
YB Loh Penang Swimming Club Chairman

Huge transportation projects is similar to huge building construction projects where the money involved is large and good for all and sundry…Komtar, KLCC, KLIA, etc. 10% for such projects runs into hundreds of millions. As comparison, Tourism projects are small varied projects and involves many parties with Low value. 10% from these project is small.

Shriek
Guest

You expect pg gomen to build lorong and belakang mati? Building roads requires land or eat into exiting and and teh susu will be very happy?

Shriek
Guest

How can huge building similar to road projects? Building is within your property but highway affects the whole stretch of road. Property can be exclusive and only residents can enter but who wants an exclusive road with limited public usage. Road is to hasten the journey and improve the efficiency.

Shriek
Guest

Pengland forum only good in blaming. Water is used by rakyat. Pg forum should advise rakyat to conserve water. To bring down the consumption. Reduce consumption through recycle, and reduce rain harvesting, and water detention. Instead short sighting on catchment only

Roland
Guest
Roland

MCA MIC Gerakan no more in BN framework. Are they seeking new alliance with social critics to win over Penang from condominium crazed alledgely developer associated party?

Shriek
Guest

Ask why only 2k household in heritage zone instead of 17k in the past? More people stay, but more cheaper is the rent? But why pg forum don’t analyse the decline of household in heritage zone?

Milk Tea
Guest
Milk Tea

Best solution: leave BN and contest on majority non-Malay seats, start with a brand new image.

Mah HS
Guest
Mah HS

Do you think Wee KS of MCA dare to ask Umno to leave BN, or does he possess the courage to take MCA out of BN this Friday at BN Supreme Council meeting?

https://m.malaysiakini.com/news/466785

Elvin Ang
Guest
Elvin Ang

MCA will still stick to Umno since they got nowhere to go.

Willy
Guest
Willy

MCA has no dignity.

BP Ranger
Guest
BP Ranger

The cooperation between Umno and PAS will only hasten MCA’s death in Barisan Nasional, said former MCA president Dr Chua Soi Lek.

Dr Chua said PAS leaders only knew how to issue statements that could hurt other races, for example, by saying that it is better to have a corrupt Muslim run the country than to have a non-Muslim doing so.

Selvi
Guest
Selvi

MIC also betrays Indians.
Maybe their leaders algo got … dedak…?

Xi Qiong
Guest
Xi Qiong

MCA back to the embrace of Umno. No spine indeed. At least Gerakan has more guts.

Wei
Guest
Wei

hehe..change image, wear new mask to fool the people again?

Shriek
Guest

Peng land kias should chase away investors crazy. They should chase away Intel, Motorola. Should vote pas who discourage both property and manufacturing investors.

Black Mage
Guest
Black Mage

MCA & MIC to remain in BN after the BN Supreme Council meeting today:
1. They have no where to go. They will be lost in the Malaysian wilderness if they left BN.
2. They have no experience being an independent party. They wont be able to survive out there.
3. Literally No … to go against Umno!!

Willy
Guest
Willy

Fully agreed.

gk ong
Guest
gk ong

First MCA and MIC said want to form new alliance. But later MIC backtrack/u-turn to join force with Umno to veto MCA’s plan to dissolve BN. But MCA under Wee still dare not walk out from BN. Today MCA has ‘lots of thunder, but no rain drop’.

Perhaps MCA want to have symbiotic relationship with Umno – to get Malays votes while allowing Umno to claim multiracial spirit of BN?