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The Rape of Penang – Goodbye, Tanjung Tokong

Sat 2011-Apr-30 @ +08 05:58:52 am

This is what they have already done in the sea off Tanjong Tokong

Now they want to steal the sea off Bagan Jermal

On April 11, the Town Planning Department granted approval to E&O Group to begin land reclamation works in Bagan Jermal bay — an extension of the big Seri Tanjung Pinang reclamation that has filled up the sea at Pantai Molek, from Island Plaza to Tanjung Tokong.

Now they want more. By the time they’re done, anyone living between Bangan Jermal and Pantai Molek will only have a view of buildings, where they can now look out over the North Channel. Similarly so from Gurney Drive. The view to the cape is already that of houses and skyscrapers, where you now look out over the open sea.

And as for the sea, Gurney Drive now looks over a 400m wide mud flat at low tide, where herons have now found a home.

Soon, only the rich and the privileged who pay E&O’s fancy prices will get to view the sea.

This is the horrifying picture of what is coming next…


Penang people are being raped of their common heritage — the sea belongs to all — and both the old and new governments are helping the developers to rip off the community as a whole.

State govt gives away the sea off Bagan Jermal

Reported in The Edge, and followed by The Star, the plans call for reclamation of 740 acres and the creation of two artificial islands. The area involved is more than 1¼ square miles. It is three times the size of the first phase (top picture).

E&O executive director Eric Chan was quoted in the Star as saying that they would be building residential, commercial, recreational and leisure properties — houses, apartments, condominiums, shops, offices, and other stuff you must pay to enjoy, “leisure properties”.

The value of that square mile: RM12 billion, when developed.

This nightmare vision of filling in the sea began in 1992, when the project was approved by the previous state Umno-Gerakan government of Koh Tsu Koon. It has just received preliminary approval from the DAP-PKR consortium.

E&O’s share price went up by nearly 30 sen after the government approval

This is a truly pernicious development — although there will those who will be full of admiration for turning a portion of Penang into a mini-Singapore.

But Penang is not Singapore, as architect, historian and naturalist Lim Chong Keat remarked at a public forum last week, in the context of size of the island, the resources, and the history.

Singapore has ruthlessly made itself over, destroying almost everything of its past, with some quaint bits preserved like theme parks for foreigners and new-generation Singaporeans who don’t know any better.

Now Penang is about to suffer the same fate, where big money talks, and the shared heritage of an island lifestyle is about to be handed over to millionaires who want a copycat mini-development of Dubai. The E&O marketing brochures already talk of Tanjung Tokong as the new millionaire’s row.

Say goodbye to what’s left of charming Penang. Soon you have to be rich to like it.


© 2011 uppercaise. All rights reserved

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16 Comments
  1. nstman permalink
    Sat 2011-Apr-30 @ +08 11:11:36 am 11:11

    One day, Penangites will be confined to reservations, and only the well-heeled and the famous will have access to the best beaches in this beautiful island. So pse enjoy Penang while it lasts.

  2. Sat 2011-Apr-30 @ +08 12:57:48 pm 12:57

    “Say goodbye to what’s left of charming Penang. Soon you have to be rich to like it.”

    Even as it is now, you have to be rich to like it. After this, what’s there left to like? Moving around Penang is already so difficult, and although Penang is eminently walkable, space for pedestrians is shrinking all the time, as also tree-lined and canopy-shaded roads. Now they want to do this to the sea, plus have a tunnel to funnel even more traffic volume into the island? And another crossing? All for a development vision that’s long past is used-by date?

    Shame on the DAP-PKR government! I hope Penang CSO’s will be up in arms over this — this is UMNO-Gerakan redux, hardly what the people of Penang bargained for.

  3. dirt road rider permalink
    Sat 2011-Apr-30 @ +08 15:02:48 pm 15:02

    “Penang people are being raped of their common heritage — the sea belongs to all — and both the old and new governments are helping the developers to rip off the community as a whole.”

    This report is rather one-sided and laced with innuendos as if Penang is like Sarawak where those robber barons rape the timberland. It’s high time this Penang see some more development to turn the island into a top tourist spot.

    It’s not that the island lacks water – it’s surrounded by water and there are still plenty of natural heritage in some other parts of the island especially on the north-west, west and south-west of the island like Gertak Sanggol.

    For too long, the Gurney Drive stretch and Bagan Jermal bay are an eye-sore and also some parts of the northern coastline. Now plans to develop these parts should be looked at with a positive mindset.

    The present state government is doing its best to put this “island in the sun” on the world map and provide greater opportunities for the people.

    Yes, it’s high-time Penang steps up it push to develop the state. We are for retaining and maintaining some of the cultural and common heritage perculiar to this island. The island still has a lot to offer.

    If I were to look out from a tall apartment towards the sea, I can still see the sea and the new structure on the reclaimed parts of the sea. And it should look nice that Penang is coming along nicely. I don’t expect to see anything wrong there.

    • uppercaise permalink*
      Sat 2011-Apr-30 @ +08 17:48:30 pm 17:48

      that’s the singapore sling. keep a little disneyland and rip off the rest.

    • dirt road rider permalink
      Sun 2011-May-1 @ +08 23:47:27 pm 23:47

      This is not a Singapore sling. I beg to differ because Penang under LGE has to see progress for the island which have long suffered under the regime of Gerakan under Koh.

      Penangites cannot be held back by nostalgic constraints such as sitting on a bench and looking out at the sea and enjoying the breeze, or having a quiet stroll on the beach which is littered with rubbish along the north coastline.

      We can still have development and still reserve natural habitat/parks for people to enjoy their leisure time.

  4. Repablika permalink
    Sat 2011-Apr-30 @ +08 20:37:31 pm 20:37

    I have written wherever and whenever possible that the best example is Bagan in Butterworth, BN punished the people for supporting DAP for years, look at what Butterworth has become, CM LGE is Bagan, how long more must the people be deprived of leisure public facilities in Bagan ? Passenger, goods, oil & gas ports should be located away from commercial centres of Butterworth. Look how the town has been planned? There are so many ‘haunted government buildings’ in town that the whole of Bagan looks ‘haunted’ as well. Can we in Butterworth be given the Sentral and a world-class Esplanade close to the sea for leisure and public events?

    As for Tanjung Tokong, greed of property market has gone to hell supported by both old and new state-governments. The common joke that Penang Island is likely to sink may be true, having raped nature to the maximum. There is no excuse not to venture south, heading to Juru, Batu Kawan, Simpang Empat, Sungai Bakap, Nibong Tebal, Tanjung Berembang and Sungai Udang. Even public bus transport to these areas are limited or do not exist. What development of Penang is it? CM LGE please let us save Mainland Penang and the island too.

  5. vinnan permalink
    Sat 2011-Apr-30 @ +08 21:59:23 pm 21:59

    I live in Johor. How I wish the UMNO government in Johor has the audacity and sincerity of LGE to turn Johor into a first world tourist destination. Go to Johor Bahru and see for yourself the messy road system and decrepit ‘tourist’ facilities which are built by the the ‘Ketuanan’ UMNO contractors.

  6. True Penangite permalink
    Sun 2011-May-1 @ +08 00:12:54 am 00:12

    I see nothing wrong with the development as a Penangite. Being enlisted as a heritage site will not bring food on table. Penang is a city in decline and decayed under the Koh Tsu Koon years. You have to live in Penang to know what happened during those years (post 1997 financial crisis).

    Crime rate was high, lots of underworld/vice activities, tourists complaint of poorly maintained and dirty sightseeing sites. Most of my friends have left to work in KL and Singapore as Penang was only famed for those run-down, almost collapsed Georgetown old shop houses .

    Now at last we have some renaissance (revival), don’t kill our last hope, please!

    We need the millionaires to come in and oil the local economy. Our kopitiam needs customers, as well as the restaurants, shopping malls, car dealers, taxi drivers etc etc….

    The Straits Quay is my favourite place to go in weekends to enjoy see breeze. Even the car park is free. Who says this place is only reserved for the very rich?

  7. clear conscience permalink
    Sun 2011-May-1 @ +08 13:37:09 pm 13:37

    Do not fancy living with the seaview in your mind. We must not forget the tsunami of yesteryears

  8. Mon 2011-May-2 @ +08 10:46:59 am 10:46

    Nostalgia is one thing, progress is another… hopefully, we can balance the two.

    Personally, I faced problems in keeping our family house. My mother’s wish to keep it for Chinese festivals faced the problem of some having become Christians as well as some who would rather have their share of the sale proceeds. Later, even old pictures of weddings and other personal ones nearly went into the rubbish heap while in the process of handing over vacant possession of the premises. This is just to highlight the problems of keeping memories of old within a family. Only those within a family who cherish old stuff would keep them for the sake of nostalgia, otherwise we can see them in Sunday flea markets being sold to others who collect collectibles.

    In Penang, what should be basic progress to me are the clearing of unsightly stalls, tables and chairs which are taking the place of roads and pedestrian walkways. Of course, traditional hawkers would jump at such moves, despite their deliberate law-breaking practices. But do we need accidents of people who were killed by motor vehicles before we take any action? Besides, the old coffee shops are in poor state of repair and cannot pass any proper hygienic tests by today’s standards. Politicians need to be careful when dealing with the problems because the owners and operators are also voters and supporters. It might take a bit longer but action should be taken even if it is going to be unpopular. I am sure there are many more fair-minded supporters who would prefer the improvements in the surroundings which is one of the criteria of rating our standard of living.

  9. mcac permalink
    Mon 2011-May-2 @ +08 10:54:36 am 10:54

    I am a Penangite who has been living in Penang for the past 40+ years. I dont see development of Tanjung Tokong as a bad thing, the economy in Penang is getting vibrant under the PR rule. This report is somewhat onesided…come and see what the local goverment has done for the rivers and Gurney drive. Now you can see sea otters at Gurney Drive, a sight which I have not seen for many decades…and comparing Singapore wth Penang, for a layman like me, I would say that Singapore government has done a much better job in the development of the country and the betterment of the citizens as a whole..so I dont mind if Penang were to be developed in the same way as Singapore.

  10. Pei permalink
    Tue 2011-May-3 @ +08 13:58:13 pm 13:58

    That’s a very lop sided report indeed.
    That coastal stretch was more like forgotten, undeveloped, deserted sand banks by the sea where no one could go and walk.
    Now there is this 3 to 4 km of beautiful promenade where any one can walk there along the clean well built walkways and enjoy the beautiful views of the sea and in the future beautiful man made islands.
    Progress that is planned well and esthetically to compliment nature is what Penang needs.
    The coastal design and planning of Seri Tanjung Pinang and Straits Quay have given many a pleasant and safe place to visit, walk and enjoy the sea breeze.
    Penang needs more of such well thought out development which not only enhances the beauty of the island but creates employment for many.
    Well Done Pg Govt and E&O.

    • Wed 2011-May-11 @ +08 10:23:49 am 10:23

      I am in support of your views and comments.

  11. Rakyat permalink
    Tue 2011-May-3 @ +08 17:03:26 pm 17:03

    The point is, were the areas absolutely private, the State still has to provide services, unless absolutely everything has been privatised.

    It’s a nonsense to entertain the idea because you have money you can stop other people from seeing the sea. If there’s a a bad fire, an epidemic or a quarantince crisis, the State Services are still needed and public access is absolutely necessary. In the final analysis, it’s tantamount to creating a small state within a State when you deprive a national or State right to enjoy all its natural resources.

  12. lestrada permalink
    Thu 2011-May-5 @ +08 19:29:18 pm 19:29

    Those are pictures of progress and development. How horrific are they? It’s good to the state government moving in this direction. I’m sure there will be certain areas reserved for people to enjoy their leisure in some parks and other scenic locations. With this blog post, are you trying to imply something else?

  13. weehobbit permalink
    Sun 2011-May-8 @ +08 00:43:30 am 00:43

    I’m totally surprised that uppercaise would post this kind of post that blatantly accuse the present state government of jeopardising the ‘green’ environment of which, I assume, he holds dear to his heart.

    Could it be that uppercaise has jumped the gun instead of finding out in more details how this development could really deprive Penangites from enjoying their scenic surroundings.

    I’m a Penangite and I see nothing wrong in developing certain areas of Penang to make the place more attractive and conducive to people. In fact, it’s high time they start sprucing up the island after the long years of inertia and lack of will from the Gerakan government to do any thing worthy for Penangites except to suck up to the BN goons.

    We, who favour seeing Penang moving forward, are surprised that this blog’s views of social and political issues seem to have make a “180 degree” turn. I guess, you know what I mean without saying so in so many words.

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