Penang Forum calls for stop to land swap deals

GEORGE TOWN (April 13): A civil society coalition wants the next government in Penang to stop the practice of approving land reclamation deals in exchange for infrastructure projects.

“The government should stop [these] kinds of practices and ensure that reclaimed lands are leasehold,” said Penang Forum, which comprises several local non-governmental organisations.

The state government has proposed two large integrated infrastructure projects — including an undersea tunnel, light rail transits and highways — at a total cost of RM33.6 billion under the Penang transport masterplan, where reclaimed land would be given in lieu of payment for the projects.

The coalition’s spokesman, Datuk Anwar Fazal, said the call to cease such land swap deals is among 40 recommendations and 20 reports that Penang Forum has put together for the 14th general election.

Titled Agenda 2018, it is centred on three pillars — good governance and strong public institutions, equitable sharing of resources and social inclusion, and sustainable development.

“In the last 10 years, the state has made progress on some fronts but has also seen major challenges arising from overdependence on growth driven by the property sector and tourism,” said Anwar.

“Car-centred urban sprawl and overdevelopment are destructively encroaching upon our hills, rivers, and seas. We believe that our present trajectory of development is unsustainable,” he said.

“A far-sighted vision for Penang requires a paradigm shift to new urbanism, sustainable transport and environmental resilience. The agenda supports the call for a new urbanism — transit-oriented development, walkable downtowns, mixed-income housing, plenty of public green open spaces and social inclusion,” said Anwar.

For instance, he said, there should be an immediate moratorium on hill developments and planning approvals, and densities should be based on the carrying capacity of the area.

The state should prioritise accessible and integrated public transport over highway building, and implement bus lanes and bus rapid transits, he added.

“The ferry service should be improved and a cross-channel rail link should be introduced instead of building a tunnel. There should also be a stop to the creation of artificial islands through reclamation,” said Anwar.

He said the state should also adopt a comprehensive approach to housing policy by prioritising social housing for the B40 group, and provide affordable housing that is no more than three times the annual income for M40.

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on April 13, 2018.

For more stories, download pullout here for free.

Like our content? Check out Narratives – where we curate stories based on topics to keep you well and broadly informed about Malaysian real estate.

Looking for property? Check out Location Scan, where we summarize all available options and facts you need in a few clicks. We have updated the tool to include MRT3 stations too.

Curious how much you can borrow? Use LoanCheck to get your maximum loan eligibility from various banks, or LoanReport to get a FREE CTOS/CCRIS credit report.
  1. Sunway Malls to place emphasis on northern region
  2. CapitaLand buys industrial properties from Dynaciate for RM80m
  3. Ideal Property Group's Queens Waterfront Phase 2 completed ahead of schedule