Zairil Khir Johari - Penang: Charting a sustainable future
An integrated and holistic plan to solve the main threats
to Penang’s sustainable growth.
Penang: Charting a
By Zairil Khir Johari
31 October 2019
• Leading secondary city in Malaysia.
• Highest GDP per capita after Kuala Lumpur.
• Historically a port economy, today:
• Manufacturing (45% of GDP)
• Assembly lines advanced manufacturing, R&D
• Services (49% of GDP)
• UNESCO World Heritage Site
o RM8.6 billion FDI (highest in Malaysia) (€1.9 billion)
o RM10.8 billion total investments (2nd in Malaysia) (€2.4 billion)
o Total trade RM430 billion (€95 billion)
o Total exports RM233 billion (€52 billion)
The State of Penang
o Narrow roads
o Sprawled city design
o Traffic congestion
o High motor vehicle use (3% public transport mode share)
o Underdeveloped transport infrastructure
o Land scarcity
The State of Penang
2009 2013 2015
Halcrow study was
adopted by Penang
SRS Consortium as
PTC members for
Request for Proposal
(RFP) by Penang State
TMP Strategy study
conducted by Halcrow.
Penang State Govt
adoption of PTMP.
Appointment of PTC
members for 2 years.
Penang Transport Master Plan
Feasibility studies with
engineering design to
Environmental and Social
(EIA & SIA)
A Transport Master Plan to
achieve 60% private & 40%
public transport mode share
Cost benefit studies to
viability of PTMP components.
(not onductedby Halcrow)
Funding model (PSR),
including the Economic and
Social Benefits Assessment
of Penang’s growth engines
1 2 3
• George Town-
• Line from Raja Uda to
BM / Alma
• BRT from Permatang
Tinggi to Batu Kawan
Highway & Road
• Pan-Island Link 1,
2 & 2A
• Persiaran Gurney-
• Ayer Itam-
• North Coastal
Highway & Road Network
• NSE Link Road
• BKE IC
• Juru IC
Missing Links (local
• Permatang Pasir –
• Bukit Minyak
Penang Island to Mainland
• George Town-Butterworth LRT
• Undersea Tunnel
• Bayan Lepas LRT
• Ayer Itam Line
• Tg Tokong Line
• Heritage Tram
1The BL LRT will link George Town to the Penang
International Airport, passing by a corridor with
the highest trip demands (Komtar, Macallum,
Jelutong, USM & Bayan Lepas Free Industrial
2This forms the main backbone for public transport.
3It also provides future connectivity of transport
network within the island, and to mainland.
Bayan Lepas LRT
Strategic location &
Strategic location of Penang
South coast Near to FIZ,
Penang International Airport.
Synergy with existing
Bayan Lepas LRT
To sustain Penang’s primary
growth engines E&E and Services
sector (Tourism, Business
Processes Outsourcing, etc).
Best suited for reclamation
Suitability of location for new land
Natural embayment and shallow
waters. LRT and PIL can be easily
extended without need for
PSR consists of 3 islands totaling 1,800 hectares.
PSR will provide sufficient contiguous land mass required
for long-term development (up to 50-year horizon),
thereby relieving the need for hillside development.
PSR will also moderate the escalation of land and
property prices in Penang Island with controlled supply of
new land and developments.
Mitigate haphazard developments on the hilly central region.
SIZE OF PENANG ISLAND 72,400 acres
Available Development Land 16,800 acres
Forest Reserve & Hills 35,200 acres
Roads & Open areas 10,500 acres
Public Amenities 5,300 acres
Residential, Commercial & Industrial Areas 4,600 acres
Penang Island is short on land for safe development
and new infrastructures, resulting in many risky
ad-hoc hill slope developments.
The George Town heritage zone is also under pressure,
threatening overall quality of life. Shortage of land for
affordable housing led to escalating property prices.
Sustainable growth of Penang’s economic engines
needed to attract and retain highly-skilled talents
and entrepreneurs for the next 40 years.
Tourism industry needs new attractions to move up
its value chain.
Catalyst for Penang’s Growth Engines
Main economic engines of Penang are E&E,
Tourism and other services.
Global E&E industry is projected to grow 30% per
annum. Penang needs to expand to meet next
generation E&E trades- Internet of Things,artificial
intelligence, 5G-enabled devices etc.