Penang shouldn’t follow Klang Valley road-building frenzy


A short comment piece by MBPP councillor Dr Lim Mah Hui:

I welcome Roger Teoh’s comments on my article “Road to folly: Will building more roads resolve traffic congestion” as a healthy debate over an issue of great importance.

His objections are as follows:

  • Road building is necessary because of obsolete roads left over from British days. New roads are needed to connect areas that are inaccessible and not connected.
  • Road building promotes economic growth and roads are used not only for personal travel but also by businesses.
  • After this round of road building, the state should not build any more roads, as should be the case in KL and Selangor.
  • Penang cannot be compared to Houston as Houston has low density and Penang high density; hence roads are needed to transport people

Let me reply to each of these main objections.

The British left Malaysia six decades ago and the “obsolete” roads they left are mainly in the city of George Town, not the suburbs. Yes, the roads in the city are narrow and not meant for high vehicular traffic and we have to learn to live with them, unless Teoh is advocating tearing down houses and uprooting trees in our heritage city.

These city roads cannot, and should not, be expanded to four or six-lane highways bringing more traffic into the city. In fact, all forward-looking cities in Europe are seeking ways to control and limit the entry of cars into cities in favour of public transport. I am surprised Teoh is arguing for the reverse.

As for needing new roads to link communities in Penang island, there is hardly any community outside of George Town that is not accessible or connected, be it on the north, south or western shores of the island. Penang has a good network of roads that connect all major communities. In fact, Penang state has more roads on a per capita population basis than Singapore. Penang has 2,200km of roads for a population of 1.6m versus Singapore with 3,500km for 5.5m people.

Yes, we do not have multiple main arterial roads going to Tanjung Bungah, Air Itam and Farlim. But as Teoh rightly pointed out, these areas are densely populated. And precisely because they are densely populated (4,449 persons per sq km in the northeast part of Penang Island), public transport is the logical solution.

One bus will take 30 to 40 cars off the roads; one tram with five carriages will take 200 cars off the roads. This is a no brainer. It is therefore illogical to advocate building more roads to cater to private cars as the solution.
Teoh then argues that roads are necessary for economic growth and business because they are used not only by private cars but also trucks and vans doing business. Halcrow’s traffic surveys show that only 20 per cent of road users are for business and 80 per cent are by personal travellers.

Even more revealing, an MBPP traffic survey showed that 70-80 per cent of private cars are single occupancy, not dissimilar to Houston’s 90 per cent. So building more roads caters mainly to single occupancy vehicles.
Teoh also says that roads are needed for buses to travel. I will fully support building segregated bus or tram lanes, not roads for more private cars.

Furthermore, the highways proposed such as the north coast paired road, the Gurney Wharf eight-lane highway, and the six-lane Pan Island Link etc. are not for connecting “inaccessible” communities; they are meant to encourage higher volume of vehicular traffic in densely populated areas.

Finally, he says and hopes that Penang state should stop building new roads once this round of road-building frenzy is over. This is akin to asking someone high on drugs to stop consuming more drugs. Klang Valley built so many highways over the past 30 years and traffic congestion only got worse; and they have not stopped building more highways.

Penang should not to go down the same treacherous path.

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Guide to buying Singapore property as a foreigner (If SingLand can do it to protect its interest, why can’t CAT do it? At least learn what is beneficial to Penang, even if it means Kia Su) A foreign person means any person who is not a: Singapore citizen Singapore company Singapore limited liability partnership Singapore society Singapore Permanent Residents (SPR) are also considered foreign persons. What can properties can foreigners buy? In general, foreigners can buy commercial and industrial properties, and residential properties except landed residences. A foreign person can purchase the following types of properties without special approval… Read more »

Johan Khun Pana

VVIPs contributed to traffic jams in the city and this is happening frequently.
I know nobody will read this (inclusive of Pootrajaya blogs monitoring goons)
Am sure many residents in the city & green NGOs would like to see VVIPs and their security escorts riding rickshaw & bicycles to rush to their destination.
*The wife of the current PM is entitled to use Air-Con luxury Platinum plated & Diamond studded trishaw
This might not reduce traffic congestion in KL or Penang but certainly make most of us happy.


The other Dire Frenzy of Cosmopolitan Penang is the Invasion of the SingLanders causing surreal hike in rentals & manipulated (speculative) property prices of heritage / prewar houses in George Town. This will have longer term financial effect on doing business in the heart of Heritage George Town & relocation or extinction of old trades. The CAT state gomen seems to be doing absolutely nothing at all. There are profitable quit rents to collect mah! Such is the mentality of CAT gomen caring for ‘its’ own $$$$$$coffer at the expense of others. Invasion of the SingLanders > Hike in Rentals… Read more »


The one end of Rope Walk nearer to Prangin site is now called Little Singapore.

One thing good is there we pedestrians can now walk comfortably with no obstruction along the “kaki lima”, at least one positive development learnt from singkarpoh!

Not sure where next of Singland invasion? Some say Penang Road? If so may be it can be renamed Big Singapore? Sad reality as chendol man there only care making money not helping out poorer neighbors there.


Be careful of that chendol taukeh in Penang Rd kopitiam.
Do not bring your chendol bought from roadside stall into his kopitiam to consume.
One customer has reported on FB that the kopitiam taukeh will chased you away.


Common sense. You don’t bring a hungry cow to a plant nursery, do you???


Trading no obstruction kaki lima for super-high rentals is not a good choice.
MBPP should have enforce no obstruction in the first place but they are not doing their job.
As a business, what’s there to earn more from no obstructions esp when one has to earn to just pay the rental?

Mohd Adrian Mohd Ras

Just announced that the state govt is going ahead to build the LRT and probably in 2017 !
Bulldozing ?


Anil, you got to work harder to stop this bulldozing, otherwise the CAT & minions are just taking you & NGOs for a cat-ride.
Such Political Traders with filthy salivas!

No LRT No Tram Just Buses will DO

For those who cannot access the link : The Economist explains Why trams are a waste of money Aug 5th 2014, 23:50 BY E.B. | WASHINGTON, DC STREETCARS—otherwise known as trolleys or trams—had their golden age around 100 years ago, carrying urban workers to nascent suburbs around Europe and America. But commuters had little love for these rickety, crowded electric trains, and by 1910 many were abandoning them for the convenience of cars or buses. Streetcars have been making a comeback, however, with new lines rumbling to life in at least 16 American cities, and dozens more in the works.… Read more »


Why the flip-flop answers on Penang tunnel project, Rahman asks Guan Eng administration PUTRAJAYA: Barisan Nasional Strategic Communications director Datuk Rahman Dahlan today called on the Penang government to stop ‘beating around the bush’ in its explanations about the proposed Penang undersea tunnel project. Rahman said the state government’s puzzling and conflicting answers to his questions would only force him to raise the matters repeatedly. “Beating around the bush is not the same as providing satisfactory answers to my questions,” he said in a statement today. He cited several specific instances from State Public Works Committee chairman Lim Hock… Read more »

Justin Huan

Lawsuit by Consortium Zenith-BUCG to protect its name


No need to be fancy.
Penang just need sheltered bus stops, covered walkways and bus mini with improved frequencies.
Do not waste money on infrastructure like tram, LRT or MRT.
Because it will take another generation of Penangites to get use to public transportation.


The problem is an entity’s been trying to play the state development game like a political game. The problem is getting not enough of worshipping frenzies to match ‘its’ ballooning CAT Ego. The problem is some are gau-gau to applause ‘its’ foolhardiness, backed up by twist+turns but it is all AOK)! We Penangites are expendable (whichever ways will go wrong with CAT’s political expediencies) as fool’s pawns. Many of us are not rich, cannot go anywhere but that entity can sell off its bungalow & migrate a millionaire back to Melaka. The problem is some of us love to be… Read more »

ST Lim

Prices of homes escalating, some very happy as they can sell off 70’s 80’s homes to afford their children education overseas and live modestly at cheaper homes.

However, some not happy as no old homes to trade and blame the government.

Should look forward, know our strong points and with the strenght granted by Almighthy GOD, we can learn to excel in difficult times.

There are so many mobile trucks selling food (cake time) or coffee, and the entrepreneurs are young folks in 30s. They learn to adapt so that they work to afford new homes.


You know how many % of newly built homes (affordable included) purchased are for speculation? And why that factor alone have caused run-away inflation in properties? And do you know property prices are not market dd + ss determined but by developers at their fancies? (this fact alone was shared by a bona fide Penang property agent who knows the market). And how many owned properties to sell in secondary market? Pls look at the wider macro-socio-economics instead of burrowing in the exhilarating CAT tunnel vision! We all know many are holding more than one jobs & it doesn’t need… Read more »

David Loman

Learn from the Canadian councillor and mayor. The City of Vancouver has revealed it’s mulling a tax on vacant homes that it hopes could discourage owners from leaving investment properties empty. Coun. Raymond Louie said details of the tax are still being worked out, but the intention would be to pressure speculators to open up their homes to renters. Vancouver’s mayor is considering a tax on empty homes to help boost supply and damp prices in North America’s hottest residential market. Owners need to be prodded to live in the properties they buy or rent them out as the… Read more »


Tax on vacant homes. Will Cosmopolitan Penang proponents @ Komtar do it?


Public Transport we can learn from China and forget about LRT :

james k

That is still in conceptual stages and might take decades to see fruition. There is still no such system that exists yet. All that can be shown are the miniature models.
We need something concrete, efficient, cheap, sustainable and can be easily implemented.


The whole thing better be built like a tank in case drivers bump into the base.

johan Khun Pana

Somehow this construction of new roads can’t be avoided. But add in a clause stating 1/3* of it is solely for Mass Transport. (*1/3 is just example) We can agree to having new roads for connectivity. No such thing as ancient colonial roads. Roads from that era are to be maintain. Suggest to turn such narrow roads into pedestrian & non motorized usage only. No more widening of existing roads just to cater irresponsible motorist. Having multi level parking facilities should be considered. Discourage big cars and encourage small/mini or micro vehicles. This won’t reduce congestion but it helps. Heard… Read more »


In response to complaints by residents and motorists at Jalan Klang Lama about the continual congestion, the KL Mayor was quoted today as follows: “The city needs developments to spur the economy and we cannot turn down a landowner’s right to develop…”

Long live “cepat kaya”.


That is the problem of BN – to much development in KL and not in other towns in Malaysia.
Many people have to go to KL to work contributing to the traffic jam.
BN should have brought development to other parts of Malaysia since everyone, not KL folks alone, pay taxes!


It was proven “mathematically” around late 1980s that more roads = more junctions = more jam. So there is no need to rediscover this. If there is no secrecy, anyone can measure the efficiency from these: (a) comparative time to travel/km (b) any delay in construction (c) total, direct, private cost (d) indirect, private cost, e.g. limited opportunity, medical, shorter working life (e) total public cost/km/year, regardless of whether “privately” operated, incl. loss of environmental services, additional hospital beds used, greenhouse gases, etc. We have just passed 1 degree C over the pre-industrial global average tmperature. We seem to be… Read more »


Allow me to modi-quote:
“Only when the last Penang tree has been cut down, the last Penang river poisoned and the last Penang fish caught will you realise that you cannot eat Cosmopolitan Penang money.” – tunglang of Belum Rainforest


What are you trying to say?


If you don’t understand simple English, don’t burp like a fool!!!


Who is advocating building the mess like Klang Valley? It does not help critics they make up things that are not true.. The legacy that is left in Penang is not only the British, Gerakan/BN had a long history of them..Remember the Koh Tsu Koon “highway”? So do not underestimate the problem.. No one dispute there is a need to move to public transport mostly but current critics are asking for chaos to do it. Are they going to be responsible for the chaos on the way to doing it? LGE and team would gladly hand that over to them..… Read more »


Well said BigJoe.

BN has caused poor piblic transportation in the cities.
All started because to keep Proton alive.
Unlikely to have bteakthrough in public transportation if people keep buying cars while the public transportation is still controlled by BN cronies.


In Spore Boon Lay industrial area, they park buses on the roof top.


no logic. dr lim says northern region like tg bungah, black water and farlim are densely populated. why federal gomen rapid is not rapid? add more rapid buses. so simple as dr lim says. 1 bus can taken away many cars from the road. but what can state gomen do when buses belongs to federal? why gelakan did not oppose but allow federal to take over? now pg lang has to clear the [mess].

antony j nelson

We cannot just stop at what should not be done.We hope that the PTC can come out with solutions.

ah pek

Anthony, do join councillor Anil to realize justice on the road not just flowing river, be active participant with action


Action party? Or Gelakan- move people like transport.


Aiyah, Gilakan only try to add in all sorts of political spice only – apeing Rahman Dahlan ?


Cars, congestion and related “development” are an important part of Kapitalism. In 2008, “free-market” USA rescued General Motors and Crysler. Yet, they have no money for road repairs, bridges and trains because it is far more profitable to engage in “defence” all over the world. Since we are not in that business (except to buy armaments), we like to focus on creating congestion, gutting bus services, etc. and then providing “solutions.” E.g. interchanges costing hundreds of millions of RM and homes forced to buy multiple cars. GDP requires more expenditure which requires more loans, debt, insurance, tolls, accidents, air pollution… Read more »

ah pek

Have you gone to communist beijing or shanghai that practice kapitalisma, my dear glissantia?


Ah pek, no money to buy car but sup sup Shui ticket and hotels in Northern city and up sea?

Mikail Johns

So you support to build more roads or less?

William Leong

More roads mean more vehicles on the road. We need an efficient and effective transport system.

David Loman

Strangely no effort so far to curb the increasing car ownership.
Less car will mean less need for new roads or road widening, right?

The Penang government should look into more free bus service to ply around the inner city of heritage George Town, like what MBJB has done in Johore Bahru with Bas Muafakat:


Why throw money around by pg Gomen in inner city? Can take trishaw Daisy Daisy bicycle built for two. Dr lim says jams to fatlim, the bungah, and black water. need gee there. Oredi free bus around inner city.

ah pek

Zoro with a missing r,
I live at bukit gambier penang, very few buses long waiting time. I have no money to buy a car. Can you carpool me to komtar if you happen to passby?


Ah pek why in the hurry? No money for car then buy kapcai. No enough then buy Bicycle. Still not enough try rapid pg. It must be really rapid. Don’t worry. Dr lim said instead of single occupancy car, fill the car. Raja and Calvin can also do their part. Pg Gomen not only listen but follow the advice. Pg lang must follow advice to car pool. Put your thumb horizontal. Ah pek no hitch hike when young.? Btw bkt gambler high class place. Better than black water and Far LIm.

ah pek

Petronas Station at Bukit Gambier, we seniors live at apartment nearby, wish to carpool if any of you interested to send us to komtar 9am every Wednesday.
Thank you.


ah pek. pity you. no offers? i cant help u . tanglung knows who are not pg kias.
too bad. i fear ptc has a rough start.


ah pek, why waste time with a donkey-lover?
Learn to fight off this type of minion:
Don’t share too much of personal things which can be twisted & used by these insidious trollers as ‘weapons’ against you.
Don’t get ‘too close’ & trusting unless you are willing to be ‘slaughtered’ in this blog.
And throw more chilis at these trollers of monkey business.
Learn from Ching Ning Chu’s “Thick Face, Black Heart”


It would be mad to build another km of road on Penang Island. LGE should be bold enough to come up with a plan for public transport which caters for the future well being of the island, That said I think underground MRT should be undertaken despite its expensive option but through private initiatives, forget seeking federal assistance.

gk ong

Many readers have previously pointed out that Malaysians prefer to drive own cars to take public bus. If such mentality is not changed, public transportation will never be successful. So please look into this root cause of traffic congestion – high car ownership!

ah pek

Penang ngo like the forumers can set good example taking public buses or cycling. Through education the young ones can learn to care for the environment. Penang government so far do not dare to get the locals to drive less. I think Gerakan can score points if they can change the mentality of car crazy.


That is why they call democratic action. Can discourage. People action can curb because democratic is missing.


Ong got it right!


penang has more roads than singland because we have many tamans and lorongs. lets put our cars there! singland has one road but many footpaths to pubkic housing. more foot paths than pg. more public buses? how can state provide when federal gomen is control. our bus system is like laos and cambodia third class and the roads it travel? single occupancy. pg can donate to advertise in tv3 and rtm for car pools? again what is spad and rtd been doing. federal collect taxes and gst and anyone no object mppp foot the bill? too much federal and central… Read more »

ah pek

Lorongs are for young kids to learn how to cycle, so bar car parking that deprive precious space for kids.

Too many cars parking simply park along every possible side lanes. Ugly sight that turn off visitors.


Ah pek, lorong is a public road where one drive a car or SUV or kapcai or bicycle to access into one’s house in taman. One has to park his car inside his property.. but dr lim says pg has more roads than singland, in theory, there is no jam if even ly distributed. But jam because one loves to stay in certain area where there is more cars than length of road. Try to live in wild wild East. Maybe like kiwis. More sheep’s than people.


PCM’s Huan: Penang government overpaid for feasibility study on road, tunnel projects PETALING JAYA: The Penang government may have paid up to five times more than the gazetted scale of fees over the feasibility study for the undersea tunnel project and the three paired roads on the island, said Parti Cinta Malaysia (PCM) vice-president Datuk Huan Cheng Guan (pix). Huan’s was referring to Penang Works Committee chairman Lim Hock Seng’s statement on Wednesday confirming that the total cost of the feasibility and detailed design reports for the proposed undersea tunnel project and the three associated roads to be RM305mil.… Read more »

ah pek

Nowadays the star readership dwindling thanks to cut n paste info like above. Wong chun wai may be jobless and to become a blogger seeking donation one day hahaha


cut & paste ~ repeat = parrot.


PCM is as hopeless as Gerakan.
DAP may not be perfect, but it is far superior compared to any BN component parties or PCM.


A young lady from China approached LGE on Wednesday at Gurney movie festival, asking him not to emulate Singapore high rise buildings. She would have more ? for LGE when Penang cannot implement car control policies of Singapore to eventually make Penang worst being a concrete jungle polluted with motorised vehicles jamming the streets!

ah pek

Locals are too obedient. Time to speak out otherwise the island too vongested with concrete feel. Old man like me hard to breathe


Ah pek, we have auntie bersih. Can you become ah pek bersih?


Ah Pek u like old days Penang like Anil or present one?
Some say Ah pek is related to t-lang!


Nyiamak! Don’t simply talk to create enmity.
Nothing better to do ah???

CharlesLouis, A.

All German city centres are pedestrian zones where bycycles and motorised vehicles are allowed to travel @ no more than 8km an hour. Parking is provided on the rands .The fees go down as one goes further awy from the town centres. Public transport is also easily available.Planning is everything. In a nearby town there was so much debatte about a new town hall because of excess to the public without cars and also parking problems in that town. In the end the council bought/exchanced land from a private person . It sold parts of the land to supermarkets, hardwareshops… Read more »

ah pek

Thunderstorm havoc in kl yesterday. Ice balls from the sky can become extra cool ingredient for Penang chendol


Ah pek. Lucky those in KL having hail stones. Why pg don’t have because pg did not have more highways?? Is that the reason ah pek?

gk ong

Could there be thunderstorms in the coming 2 by-elections? Tun M is supporting Amanah, a prelude to the next GE? Hopefully Anil can have commentary on local politics despite being burdened with local transportation issues.

David Loman

The outcome of the 2 by-elections will help clarify the muddied current situation in the following ways: a) With Umno and PAS now effectively in a de facto coalition, will they both gain votes or cannibalise into each other’s base? If the voters abandon PAS, will the outcome hasten the second split of PAS? b) How strong is Amanah and Pakatan Harapan in the eyes of the voters? c) How much influence Umno Team B, in particular Tun Mahathir, wield? Can they deliver disgruntled Umno votes to the Amanah candidates? d) If the result clearly show that Amanah is ahead… Read more »

Monique OY

Totally agree.

ah pek

Agree with more or less cars on roads?