PTMP funding model has failed: Time to scrap SRS proposal

The RM46bn SRS rojak

The chief minister’s recent statement that the massive reclamation off the southern coast of Penang Island may be modified, scaled down or even reviewed is a tacit admission that the funding model of the SRS proposal has failed.

I recall from a Penang Transport Council meeting that one of the primary justifications for selecting SRS Consortium as the project delivery partner was that its proposal would not involve public or government funds. Instead the funding for transport infrastructure in the state would be raised through selling reclaimed land.

And so the RM27bn transport infrastructure proposed under the original Halcrow masterplan (itself having to include state government’s controversial plan for the RM6bn tunnel and three highways) was bumped up to RM46bn under the SRS proposal. The infrastructure proposed was completely changed.

The original Halcrow transport masterplan

Compared to the Halcrow plan, which significantly included an institutional framework, the SRS proposal is more car-focused, especially the extravagant Pan Island Link. Instead of cheaper bus rapid transit and modern trams for the whole state under the Halcrow plan which would have come up to RM9bn, SRS proposed a rojak of expensive options – a RM9bn highway and an RM8bn light rail transit under the first phase, which was focused mainly on the island, totalling about RM17bn. Add to that another RM6bn for the tunnel (still missing in action) and three highways.

[Meanwhile, the untapped potential of the buses and ferries of Penang have not been fully realised as the public transport modal share remains below 5% compared to 67% in Singapore.]

The SRS proposal plan involved seeking a couple of billion of ringgit from bridging loans.

That was always going to be a problem, which was pointed out to the state government from the start. How do you finance RM17bn worth of infrastructure construction with just RM1-2bn of working capital? By relying on the sale of reclaimed land to developers of high-end housing? And who would the developers sell such expensive housing too?

In their hubris, they forgot to look deeply into several crucial factors.

  • The glut of high-end housing already in the market
  • The ongoing high-end housing and reclamation projects in the north-east and east coast of Penang Island – these first two points alone will affect the price of reclaimed land for sale
  • The currency restrictions by the government in China on its nationals trying to take money outside the country – so where are the 400,000 people on the three islands going to come from?
  • The timing differences – it will take several years to reclaim and sell the land; so how is the state going to find the money in the meantime to finance RM17bn worth of transport infrastructure with just a couple of billion ringgit of “bridging loans”

But they wouldn’t listen. They were adamant about this “PTMP” – which really is a developers’ real estate plan for the three islands in the south. Driven by greed and $$$ signs, they could not see the biting reality.

What happened to all those assurances that the project would not involve a single sen of public funds?

Remember, when the Council of Eminent Persons was reviewing all the mega projects, the chief minister argued that the PTMP was somehow different as the three-island PTMP project would not involve public funds.

“When Daim Zainuddin and the Council of Eminent Persons began reviewing mega infrastructure projects (eg the East Coast Rail Link and KL-Singapore High-Speed Rail) to determine their benefits to the rakyat, it was in the context of using large sums of public funds to finance such mega projects, and whether there would be a positive return to our nation and rakyat.”

This, he said, was different from the major components in Penang’s PTMP – the Bayan Lepas LRT and the PIL expressway – as both these projects would be fully funded by the revenue generated from the sale of land reclamation in the PSR project.

Now the tune has changed.

First, the state began hoping the federal government would give them RM1bn in a soft loan for this extravagant shortsighted plan. Mercifully, that doesn’t appear to be forthcoming as Putrajaya itself is strapped for funds. For the LRT, the project proponents came up with an inflated ridership figure of 42 million trips per year in an island with a population of just 700,000. Thank goodness the federal government could see through the bluster, with the transport minister himself wisely saying the LRT was not be the best option for Penang. But the Penang government remained adamant and flew in to Putrajaya to meet the minister.

Now the Penang government, having been hit by market realities – which people had been warning them about – is hoping the federal government will be able to spare RM1-2bn a year over a five-to-seven-year period to finance the construction of the RM8bn LRT. (Have they given up on the RM9bn Pan Island Link?)

Look, if the federal government has no money to spare for a RM1bn soft loan, how on earth will it be able to cough up enough money to finance the construction of the expensive LRT with inflated ridership projections?

To me, it is clear that the funding model for the PTMP under the SRS proposal has failed. This funding model, which supposedly would not involve public funds – even though it would gobble up the Commons (a recreational and important fisheries area) – was crucial in the selection of the SRS proposal. That is no longer the case.

In the meantime, there is a lot of uncertainty over the Penang airport – new airport plans are cropping up all over the place – while public disquiet against the massive land reclamation is swelling. If a major airport is built on the mainland either in Kulim or in mainland Penang, what will it do to the already inflated LRT ridership projections for the Komtar-Penang Airport LRT route?

So the only thing to do is to scrap the SRS proposal and go back to the drawing board. It is time to come up with a better, cheaper, faster alternative that is less car-focused and genuinely promotes sustainable mobility.

We have wasted almost a decade on all this nonsense; so stop obsessing with pipe dreams, scrap the grandiose plans and get on with increasing the public transport modal share through a more sustainable mobility plan.

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Switch Machine

CM Chow if you read this pls no more state revenue from dubious land swap sales but develop local skills during your term 1 and 2 to handle IR4.0 so that many can earn decent salary to cope with rising cost and able to afford expensive condos on island


is IR4.0 some kind of food? no ,no, no IR4.0 for us , we love our fisherman, we support them we want them to catch more fish. what IR4.0 can do to increase fisherman income??


What to do? Less n less pg lang wants to stay in Wong fei hoong shophouse just like Tu Lang. Only poor, back packers and poor left in the heritage area. Even build trams, people staying far away again like Tu Lung oredi have cars


Don’t waste money.

LRT will fail in Penang. No last KM connectivity to their homes.

People still prefer to drive own cars.

Car is status symbol. Just ask the young people!


Singapore’s public transportation is successful because car ownership is expensive (high price in car, petrol, parking and maintenance).

But car ownership cost is low in Penang.
So unlikely to see existing drivers switch to LRT.
LRT will become an expensive white elephant.


No if lrt get you to airport and important places on time. You want to drive early or miss your flight or appointment being caught in jam or spend 1 month in a year waiting in the jam?

Teh Susu

SRS PTMP proposal not an ideal reality now that Chow cannot secure federal loan becoz Jibbie SRC oredi took away big chunk even KWSP may not get back the loan interest.
Risky to develop commercial fake islands when no willing buyers aftef USA China trade wars go nasty.

CM better google to seek Google FDI in Penang now that they are reportedly moving AI operation awsy from China to Taiwan and Msia. CM Chow PDC better compete with Cyberjaya for Google cakes and dont keep talking about PTMP oredi choking public patience.


PTMP I suspect is more than a solution to transport problems like traffic jams, long journey time from north to south of the island & for alternative short cut routes for traffic dispersal from main routes like GreenLane. The sea tunnel proposal was mooted during or after the Penang 2nd Bridge completion, a unilateral project by the Federal gomen. After 308, Penang CAT as an opposition state decided it’s high time for an alternative highway connectivity between the island & mainland that would benefit & convenient Penangites on both sides of the sea channel. It was also seen as a… Read more »

Teh Susu

advertising teaser now appearing on bunters along Penang Road about something to happen in 2020 by Penang Governement. Wonder if its your creative work? Anil any idea what its all about???


Is Anil thinking about strip-teaser to arouse curiosity? 🙂 🙂 🙂
Note: 🙂 🙂 🙂 is not he-he-he!
Here’s one TVC that literally teased the audience.
Remember the Eveready TVC in b&w in the 60s? Showing a cartoon strip-teaser feline teasing in a spotlight to slow erotic audio playing on the brand name ‘eveready’ (for whatever leaving to one’s erotic imagination). It literally teased (men of course) leaving a memorable desire in us to this day.

Gabby Benson

You may shriek hee hee hee recalling Rose Chan’s ever ready act at New World Park!

Wei may have to seek youtube to learn about infamous Rose Chan.


it is fun to watch knee jerker reacting to “teaser” like discovering cheap one ton mee……wait for official statement rather relying on fake news aka MaCA toilet paper hearsay from one ton mee stall……hehehe


For cheap (affordable) wantan mee, go to Tanjung Bungah:

For over 10 years, an octogenarian in Penang has managed to maintain the price of his wantan at 10 sen each.

Gan Seng Lean, 83, who has been selling wantan mee since 1949, said he was keen to maintain the price of his wantan at 10 sen each and his wantan noodles at RM3 a plate in Jalan Lembah Permai, Tanjung Bungah, Penang.

tunglang please give us your verdict on this maestro.


We are still waiting for Tu Lang on his food critics. Road jam to TB? Tell pg forum don’t oppose low way?


Need tunglang’s Bourdain-style food talk to rekindle Anil’s appetite for food, before Penang lose out to Singapore in hawker food recognition by Unesco.

Teh Susu

Taiwan Food Expo coming to Spice. Anil can try many food that serve as appetizer then you will appetite foe one tonne of mee noodles.

Pls promote Penang Food in Taiwan instead of them coming to conquer local beverages market share.

Wah Piow

Taiwan-style bubble tea is spoiling the market with its high price and could cause our local chendol sellers to increase their price. Do not be alarmed if a bowl of ice chendol could cost you RM10 in the very near future. Penang vendols should instead expand their chendol business to China, Hong Kong or Taiwan to rival bubble tea. They need viral marketing and branding with animal heads to mske headwsy.


Singapore food & restaurant is making inroad to Thailand’s market:

Penang food should expand overseas too.


Why Tu Lang no kbkb over Taiwan Hokkien Food Expo? Pg Hokkien no ho jiak? Tu Lang too much kbkb that did not realised other nations are developing faster. Teng suah has started 5Gs. In 1970s and 80s Teng Suah still bamboo curtain, peng land no 2 electronic factories in world .


tunglang also no appetite to respond?
I thought he supports Penang old maestro hawkers?
Anil lose appetite and lose weight as well?


Lost appetite n save a lot of money eating less? Very good treatment for obesse people. Lucky for Tu lang’s relative. Many jobs


Tu Lang, now you support developer by working for them. Now everyone’s pipe dream, yours, developer and buyer? But anil and pg forum sewer pipe’s dream.


Anil, what’s happened to your Quietly, quietly Article???
Your Mighty River of Justice got blocked???

Teh Susu

EPY 2020 banners by roadside is Experience Penang Year 2020 to tell the tourist how terrible the traffic jams to call for PTMP to go ahead?

There is a fun run organised by state government in July at Bayan Baru eith lucky draws to entice public to support PTMP.

Anil can register to run or to counter ????


How much is Tolak Tambak t-shirt and where to get it?

Penangites snapped up all Uniqlo KAWS t-shirts online and at the stores recently, though not cheap at RM59.90 a piece. Now they are gearing for the new Unqlo UT Grand Prix 2019 Pokemon series out this week.


hoho….so expensive, my t -shirt usually only cost me 10 ringgit…those tolak tambak fellow must be very loaded…

V Ramesh

Tourism should be a focus now to attract tourist dollars. More creative marketing is needed. Forget about Middle East tourists who are not coming. Target China and India tourists with direct flights to Penang.


Why mid east not coming? Or divert slightly and stop further south to LOS? Thai LOS better? Can do more and say less? Why tidak PASs not promoting?


Middle east tourists likely on holiday in non-Islamic country, to enjoy vacation with less religious restriction, thus bypassing Malaysia?

Teh Susu

EPY 2020 can attract Hong Kongers to flee Mainland treaties and settle down in many still unsold condos on Penang Island.


Ifyou have RM20K, you can follow AEC’s Siow Hui Mei’s Golden Destination to Alaska:

Boba Tiger

Star today front page headline the disappearance of Convent School in Penang.

What happened? Separation of church from school?


Will the school be relocated and retain its Convent brand name?

Aloe Setar Convent school lost its name to a Malay name after it was relocated decades ago.


‘Penang should invoke Land Acquisition Act to preserve convent schools’ – Ramkarpal Singh

The oldest girl’s school in Southeast Asia, CLS is certainly the pride of Penang and is fittingly located in its heritage zone as well. CPT, too, is historically significant, having opened its doors way back in 1929 as an education provider and is a household name in Penang.

Switch Machine

Convent Light Street land is of MayFair or Park Lane property value if you play western version of Monopoly Board game. Some developers may test the resolve of Convent Board of Directors to accept lump sum and convert the area into commercial cum residential high end site? Convent alumni ought to take pictures there to preserve memories of the past before future development erase whatsoever they try to recall???

Teh Susu

The developers will probably save the facade of a selected vintage structure for millenials to take selfie shots like what they did at Gurney Paragon.

Don Anamalai

Malaysia – Sumatra bridge?

To facilitate incoming Indonesia workers?

Or perhaps the Orang Utans can migrate to Malaysia to escape deforestation in Sumatra?

V Ramesh

No value in attracting the Indons.

Money should be spent wisely, not wasted like such project.

Harapan do not seem to know how to create new value!


Very good news for tu lang. Star paper reported very old couple sells very cheap one ton at 10 Sen and one ton mee at 3 rm in TG bungah. Now who yapees will take over. No more one ton but million tons. Too bad traffic jam to TB. Tu lang very happy new low road to TB build by PHgomen


how dare tu lang has the cheek to curse the people who build road for him so he can indulge in his favorite cheapo one ton mee….


Anyone going to Gurney Plaza to look see MAPEX 2019 today till Sunday? Let me know any bargain property offering.

Don Anamalai

Should explore SP – either seberang prai or sungai petani.

Penang island houses too expensive for common people like me.


state government very dumb,should hire international banker, renowned book publisher and ang moh transport student as consultant for the master plan, they are able to find cheap cheap solution just like finding cheap cheap one ton mee…..

Z. Aziz

Excellent commentary foc for the state govt. Hopefully state leadership will be humble enough to admit that SRSPTMP is seriously flawed and needs to be reviewed incorporating feedback from civil society as well.