How RM46b can transform Penang into a Silk Road Gateway

Mah Kong Lip


LETTER | We should look for alternative financing for the Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) through the “One Belt, One Road” initiative with China. Isn’t it more workable and beneficial to both countries? With RM46 billion, our Penang port could have been upgraded into a Silk Road Gateway.

Bottom line is, the effects of the Penang South Reclamation (PSR) on Penang or Malaysia’s economy may not be as significant compared to the Silk Road gateway, as the Silk Road gateway may significantly boost the Bayan Lepas Free Trade Zone.

Are there any other better alternative financial options for the Penang state government instead of borrowing RM1 billion loan to kickstart PSR?

After PSR’s kickstart, developers still need to reclaim the new islands, then sell the products on top of the islands, to recover their reclamation and development costs, then continue to contribute from their development revenue to build a new transportation system such as the Light Rail Transit (LRT) for the people.

If the property market continues to soften and experience an oversupply for years, then what will the actual duration of the construction of the LRT be? Will the delivery date be postponed?

Are there any other better options for the LRT to be delivered to the people?

As the Penang government utilises huge financing for the PSR and PTMP project, appropriate risk assessments and risk management steps should be taken, as a precautionary measure to market economy conditions in coming years.

And on top of this, we should explore further to see if there any other better main economy-boosting factors and catalysts that can be the focus and implemented by the Penang government, that can give instant real benefits to the state’s present economy?

For example, Penang has always been well-known as a semiconductor hub and technology industrial hub in Malaysia and Southeast Asia.

Perhaps we could leverage on this branding and unique value that we already have? We could invest more money, time and resources to boost up and secure more foreign investment to our state and this will increase our state’s gross domestic product (GDP), and create more job opportunities here at the same time.

This will fundamentally attract and increase more competent and high-income level population to work and stay in Penang. When we see an actual increase of the income level of Penang residents, many will choose to stay back instead of moving away and this will in turn bring real economic effects to Penang.

I believe that if the Penang state government invests in forming a well-strategised “Securing Foreign Investments” team, and organise it in a manner that is driven by key performance indicators, this action and investment will bring a viable and incremental positive impact to Penang’s economy, within a feasible and shorter duration.

Infrastructure and real estate developments are always good for the state and country. However, we should also take more alternatives and considerations on the feasibility and risk management part of the development, in order to deliver securely what we have promised to the people in a better way.

MAH KONG LIP is communications director for Bukit Bendera PKR division.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.