Political tone at Penang heritage do


Politics was the name of the game at George Town heritage event involving a wealthy Chinese community leader and the current and former Chief ministers of Penang.

IT is rare to see the current and former chief ministers of Penang together but there they were, sharing the same stage at a heritage event at one of the most historical sites in George Town.

But going by the expressions on their faces, they seemed less than thrilled unlike the host of the occasion, Zhang Wei Lu, who was seated between them.

Zhang, a wealthy and good-looking businessman and currently chairman of the Penang Chinese Clans Association, looked buoyant and confident even though he is embroiled in a brewing dispute with the state government. His composure was all the more remarkable given the news reports in the Chinese vernacular press about his personal life just days earlier.

At the heart of Zhang’s dispute with the state government is a heritage property in George Town known as “50, Love Lane” which is historically connected to the Ghee Hin secret society in the 1800s.

The trustees who oversaw the property have died, leaving behind a backlog of unpaid property charges that resulted in the property being forfeited by the state.

The association has been trying for years to redeem the property but things took on an accelerated tone after Zhang came into the picture and discussions with the state government became strained along the way. The ties were also marred by disputes over state allocations for the association’s cultural events.

Things came to a head last week at the association’s annual heritage festival.

The Chinese clans and guilds have long been a part of local politics in Penang and politicians tend to dance around them because of their perceived clout over the community.

Over the years, it has been the practice for the chief minister of the day to attend but relations with the state government had grown so awkward this year that Zhang’s invitations to the state exco drew a blank. Only one state exco said he would be there.

As a result, the association turned to former chief minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon to launch its event.

Dr Koh was said to be quite reluctant because he had made a clinical cut with all things political after retiring from politics. His status on Facebook is listed as “Writer” and he has been working on his memoirs.

It is understood that Dr Koh only agreed to attend after Zhang told him that Lim Guan Eng would not be able to make it. Dr Koh is not the confrontational type and he was not interested in getting into a conflict.

But according to Zhang, a day before the event, he was informed that Lim would be attending. It was too late to change the arrangements and that was how Zhang found himself sandwiched between the sitting and former chief ministers.

That was when things took a rather political turn. Zhang made what some thought was a rather political speech. He praised Dr Koh for his contributions to the state and thanked him and the former state government for laying the foundation for George Town’s Heritage City status.

There is a Chinese saying, jie dao sha ren (borrow a knife to slay someone), and those watching on could see that Zhang was using Dr Koh to hit out at the state government.

It was a significant moment because members of the former state government had been treated like the proverbial black sheep since 2008 and Dr Koh had been like some kind of invisible man in Penang where he lives.

“It was the first time a big Chinese association had openly acknow­ledged and thanked Dr Koh for his contributions,” said Gerakan politician Dr Thor Teong Ghee.

Zhang also used the occasion to hit out at politicians for their “dirty politics” and for attacking him on personal matters.

He was referring to Chinese press reports quoting some DAP politicians who had dug into Zhang’s academic background.

The Chinese media often refers to him as “Dr Zhang” but checks by the DAP side showed that he did not complete his medical studies in Taiwan and they also questioned reports that he had furthered his studies in the Philippines.

There was also an awkward protocol moment which some thought was disrespectful to the Chief Minister. Normally, the highest ranking guest speaks last but Dr Koh was the final speaker.

The former and current chief ministers are as different as night and day and it was reflected in their respective speeches.

Lim was his usual combative self. He elaborated on his achievements for Penang and at one point, he sort of challenged Dr Koh to contest the general election and let the people decide on who they wanted.

But he did indicate that the state government would abide by the law on the “50, Love Lane” issue and he urged the association to consult their lawyers to find a solution.

Dr Koh played the gentleman po­li­tician. He said Penang’s Heritage City status was a long and challenging effort that would not have been possible without the input of his state exco members and the backing of the federal authorities.

“It is also the success of the people, of the different races, so we have to preserve it for the future generations,” he said.

The issue of “50, Love Lane” has become more complicated now that it has strayed into political waters.

Jelutong MP Jeff Ooi, who has a weekly column in the Penang-based Kwong Wah Yit Poh newspaper, had written on the issue: “Politicians and office-bearers come and go but the assets of the community are forever. We have to think of the long-term interests of the community. We have our expiry date and his (Zhang) expiry date is May next year.”

It was a signal to Zhang that his term as association chairman will end in May and he should not delay the legal process if he wants to be part of the solution.

Is the “50, Love Lane” issue a sign of the shifting tides in Penang Chinese politics?

Source: The Star by Joceline Tan

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New Mayor for Penang Island City Council


 

GEORGE TOWN: The Penang government today decided to appoint Datuk Maimunah Mohd Sharif as the new Penang Island City Council Mayor.

The Seberang Perai Municipal Council (MPSP) president will replace outgoing Mayor Datuk Patahiyah Ismail whose contract ends on June 30 this year.

State Local Government, Traffic Management, and Flood Mitigation Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said the decision was made by the Exco today.

He thanked Patahiyah for her services to the state government in her various capacities over the years.

“The contract for Maimunah will be for two years beginning July 1 this year and will end on June 30, 2019,” he said in a press conference today.

Maimunah began her career as an officer in the Town Planning Department of the Council in 1995 and was promoted to the director of the same department in 2003.

In 2009 she was tapped to become the George Town World Heritage Inc (GTWHI) general manager before her appointment as Council president in 2011.

The Council presidency will be assumed by Rozali Mohamud who served as the secretary for the municipality.

He will be replaced by Rosnani Mahmod who served as the Urban Services director for the Council previously.

Rozali will be sworn in as the Council president next Monday (June 3) while Maimunah will assume the Mayorship the following day on June 4.

Aaron Ngui newsdesk@thesundaily.coms
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Councillors ready to serve Penangites to make a difference?

Councillors ready to serve Penangites to make a difference?


THE Penang Island City Council (MBPP) and the Seberang Prai Municipal Council (MPSP) see 10 new faces among the list of councillors who sworn in Jan 5 and 6 for the 2017 term.State Local Government Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said the lineup for the 24 MBPP and 23 MPSP councillors is effective Jan 1 till Dec 31.

The New faces appointed as councillors (from left) Tan, Shahrudin, Seow, Loh, Khoo Salma, Noor Syazwani, Shung and Woo at a press conference in Komtar.

He said three of the five new faces in MBPP are from non-governmental organisations (NGOs), namely writer Khoo Salma Nasution, 53, (Penang Forum), insurance and corporate risk consultant Shung Yin Ni, 31, (Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce) and marketing officer Noor Syazwani Md Amin, 30, (Persatuan Peniaga Melayu Pasar Malam Pulau Pinang).

The other two are senior marketing manager Tan Chiew Choon, 45, and businessman Shahrudin Mohamed Sahriff, 47, both from PKR.

Chiew Choon had served as a councillor before with the MBPP between 2013 and 2015. He was not retained the following term.

The five replace Eric Lim Seng Keat (NGO), Dr Lim Mah Hui (NGO), Mohamed Yusoff Mohamed Noor (NGO), Felix Ooi Keat Hin (PKR) and Shahul Hameed M. K. Mohamed Ishack (PKR).

The 19 councillors who were retained are Goh Choon Keong, Gooi Seong Kin, Grace Teoh Koon Gee, Harvindar Singh, Joseph Ng Soon Siang, D. R. Kala, Chris Lee Chun Kit, Ong Ah Teong, Syerleena Abdul Rashid, Wong Yuee Harng, J. Francis, Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik, Nur Zarina Zakaria, A. Kumaresan, Ahmad Razaaim Azimi, Ahmad Azrizal Tahir, Mhd Nasir Yahya, Saiful Azwan Abd Malik and Gan Ay Ling.

 

MPSP also has five new faces including lawyer Thomas Loh Wei Pheng, 33, (DAP), special officer Woo Sze Zeng, 34, (DAP), company director Dr Seow Kweng Tian, 37, (PKR), entrepreneur Fadzil Abdullah, 60, (Amanah) and clerk Hamizah Abdul Manab, 26, (NGO).

They replace Siti Nur Shazreen Mohd Jilani (DAP), Tan Chong Hee (DAP), Goh Choon Aik (PKR), Alias Wan Chek (PKR), Mohd Suzuki Ahmad (Amanah) and Ahmad Tarmizi Abdullah (NGO), whose terms were not extended.

Chow said one more vacancy in the lineup for MPSP will be decided in the next state exco meeting.

The other 18 MPSP councillors are P. David Marshel, Heng Yeh Shiuan, H’ng Mooi Lye, K. Kumar, Mohamad Shaipol Ismail, M. Satees, Tan Chee Teong, Tan Cheong Heng, Zulkifli Ibrahim, Mohd Sharmizan Mohamad Nor, Zaini Awang, Ong Jing Cheng, Anuar Yussoff, Dr Amar Pritpal Abdullah, Shuhada Abdul Rahim, Zulkiply Ishak, Dr Tiun Ling Ta and Wong Chee Keet.

Shung, who is from a corporate background, said she hoped to assist in providing a better environment for business undertakings in Penang.

Shahrudin said the appointment would encourage him to step up efforts to serve the people better.

The Jelutong PKR branch deputy chief said he hoped to take on his role as a councillor more efficiently through various state initiatives and policies.

Dr Seow hopes to resolve issues related to public transportation and community welfare.

He said that he hoped to resolve traffic congestion, plant more trees and maintain cleanliness.

“I hope to be able to introduce more community-based activities as a councillor,” said Dr Seow, who is a PhD holder.

Speaking at a press conference in Komtar yesterday, Chow said the allowances for the councillors would remain at RM2,500 each.

“They are also eligible for allowances for attending meetings up to RM1,200, which is about RM100 for every meeting they attend. There is also a RM300 mobile phone allowance,” he added.

Also present was Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.

By Chong Kah Yuan Intan Amalina The Star/ANN


Newly sworn-in MBPP councillors ready to make a difference

(From left) Tan, Noor Syazwani, Shung, Salma and Shahrudin posing for a photo after the swearing-in ceremony at the City Hall in George Town, Penang.

 

MARKETING officer Noor Syazwani Md Amin is eagerly waiting to serve the people as one of Penang Island City Council’s (MBPP) five new councillors.

The 30-year-old, who is with a non-governmental organisation (NGO) Penggerak Komuniti Muda Pulau Pinang (Peka), said one of the issues close to her heart is the flood woes in the state.

“I live in the flood-prone Jalan P. Ramlee, so I definitely hope it’s one of the issues that can be solved for the sake of the people.

“There will be the flood mitigation projects which are going to be carried out. So, hopefully I can make use of that for the community, especially those staying in Sungai Pinang, Jelutong and Jalan P. Ramlee,” she said when met after the MBPP councillors’ swearing-in ceremony for the 2017 term at the City Hall in George Town, Penang, yesterday.

Noor Syazwani said her priority is always about placing the people first.

“Helping people excites me.

“Hopefully, I can give my best because I’m still new,” she added.

She is among 24 MBPP councillors, who took their oath at the City Hall yesterday.

Three of the five new faces are from NGOs. They are writer Khoo Salma Nasution, 53, (Penang Forum), insurance and corporate risk consultant Shung Yin Ni, 31, (Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce) and Noor Syazwani.

The other two are senior marketing manager Tan Chiew Choon, 45, and businessman Shahrudin Mohamed Shariff, 47, both from PKR.

Meanwhile, Shung said she hoped to enhance conduciveness of Penang as an excellent business centre with her appointment in the MBPP.

“This is so that when the economy blooms, everyone gets to benefit from it.

“I would also like to emphasise on sustainable development, which does not only mean taking care of the environment but also the needs of the people. Therefore, I hope to find a balance,” she added.

The five replace Eric Lim Seng Keat (NGO), Dr Lim Mah Hui (NGO), Mohamed Yusoff Mohamed Noor (NGO), Felix Ooi Keat Hin (PKR) and Shahul Hameed M.K. Mohamed Ishack (PKR).

The 19 councillors retained are Goh Choon Keong, Gooi Seong Kin, Grace Teoh Koon Gee, Harvindar Singh, Joseph Ng Soon Siang, D.R. Kala, Chris Lee Chun Kit, Ong Ah Teong, Syerleena Abdul Rashid, Wong Yuee Harng, J. Francis, Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik, Nur Zarina Zakaria, A. Kumaresan, Ahmad Razaaim Azimi, Ahmad Azrizal Tahir, Mhd Nasir Yahya, Saiful Azwan Abd Malik and Gan Ay Ling.

The new MBPP lineup comprises 10 from DAP, eight from PKR, two from Amanah and four from NGOs.

The tenure for the councillors is from Jan 1 until Dec 31.

In her speech, MBPP mayor Datuk Patahiyah Ismail congratulated all the appointed councillors.

State Local Government Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said the role of a councillor is very extensive.

“Apart from representing the general public and local community, a member of the council is also an intermediate between the community and local authority,” he said in his speech.

Chow also congratulated the council on its success in getting various awards and victories at state, national and international levels.

The achievements include being the Earth City Hour Challenge 2016 finalist.

MBPP also received the Tourism Promotion Organisation for Asia Pacific (TPO) Tourism Industry Leader Award in Tourism Promotion for Asia Pacific Forum 2016.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, who was also present, said MBPP’s success not only depended solely on a credible and effective management, but also the support, commitment and team work from all councillors, officers and staff.

He said MBPP practised prudent spending and governance based on the principles of CAT (competency, accountability and transparency) that successfully recorded an excellent financial performance with budget surplus in the financial statements for three consecutive years, which is RM47.57mil for 2013, RM177.95mil for 2014 and RM146.04mil for 2015.

“The success of the council in maintaining good financial performance enables efforts to improve the provision of public facilities.

“MBPP will implement several development projects at a cost of RM5.2mil.

“Among the proposed projects to improve the comfort of the people, include the construction of a public market in Batu Ferringhi,” he added.

By Cavina Lim The Star/ANN

Outspoken author among five new faces at MBPP

New faces appointed as the councillor in Penang Island City Council (MBPP) for 2017. (oriental daily/04 Jan 2017)

 

GEORGE TOWN: An outspoken author of over a dozen history books is among five new faces appointed as Penang Island City (MBPP) councillors.

Khoo Salma Nasution represents Penang Forum and is taking over from her equally vocal counterpart Dr Lim Mah Hui, who opted out of being re-appointed this year after serving six terms.

Penang Forum is a loose coalition of non-political civil society groups, often critical of the state government’s plans and policies.

The city’s councillors are appointed yearly and comprise a small number of NGO representatives, including one from Penang Forum.

During his term, Dr Lim vocife­rously highlighted governance issues to the point of incurring the annoyance of the state administration.

Khoo planned to keep public pressure on MBPP and wished that more seats were allotted to NGOs.

She is eager to see what committees are in the council and hoped to play a role especially in fostering sustainable development, transport planning, environmental issues and heritage conservation.

“I feel there is not enough awareness on these. I want to see what I can do about making people more conscious of them, not just indivi­duals but at an institutional level,” she said.

The former journalist of The Star who did a 20-year research into Penang’s history and development to write her books, believes that the council needs environmental goals and key performance indicators to monitor Penang’s green progress.

“We need to collect more information about how Penang is doing to track our environmental and heritage conservation efforts,” she said.

Khoo was in Komtar yesterday when Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and state exco member Chow Kon Yeow announced the appointments of the new councillors.

Dr Lim said he was glad that the state government accepted Penang Forum’s nomination of Khoo.

“Her decades of study on Pe­­nang’s growth will help the council manage development while preserving our cultural and heritage values,” he said.

Dr Lim added that he declined his re-appointment because he felt “the change in Penang that we want doesn’t seem to be happening”.

Other new faces are Tan Chiew Choon (PKR), Shahrudin Mohamed Sahriff (PKR), Shung Yin Ni (NGO) and Noor Syazwani Mohd Amin (NGO).

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To elect or not elect mayors of City Councils of local government?


THERE are three levels of government in most countries – a federal government, state government and local authorities.

Although Malaysia is generally seen as a democratic country, only the federal government and the state governments are elected.

In other words, members of parliament are elected and they elect the prime minister. State assemblymen are also elected and they in turn elect the mentris besar or chief ministers.

However, the local authorities are not elected. The mayors or presidents and councillors are appointed by the state government.

It is time to bring back elected local governments.

There were elected local governments in the past. As early as 1951, when Malaya was a colony of England, elections were held to elect councillors in George Town.

For example, Goh Guan Hoe, more popularly known as G. H. Goh, a lawyer and an MCA leader, was chosen as the president of George Town in 1956. Although he was often addressed as “mayor”, technically, he was the president of the municipality.

George Town was declared a city by Queen Elizabeth II on Jan 1, 1957. By that time, the Labour Party was in control of the municipality and D. S. Ramanathan, a leader of the Labour Party, was elected as the first mayor of George Town.

Since then, local government in Penang Island has gone through considerable changes. Local government elections were suspended in the 1960s. The reason given by the federal government was Indonesia’s declaration of “Ganyang Malaysia”.

The City Council of George Town was amalgamated with the rest of the island to form a municipality of Penang Island. The local authority of the island became a municipality.

Since then, the president and councillors have been appointed by the state government. It is fair to believe that the appointments were the prerogative of the chief minister of Penang.

There has been a tendency to appoint government officers as mayors or presidents of the local authorities. For example, the mayor and president of Penang Island and Seberang Perai were government officers.

There are good reasons for appointing senior government officers largely because they have the experience and expertise in the working of the local authorities.

On the other hand, this practice is not ideal. Senior government officers have been trained to abide by the General Orders and are expected to look to the chief minister or mentri besar as their superior.

Hence they tend to implement what their superior officers want. Since they have been appointed by the chief minister or mentri besar, it is difficult for them to ignore his preferences.

There were days when presidents of local councils were appointed from among the politicians of the ruling party. For example, the president of Penang Island Municipal Council, Tan Gim Hua, was a leader of Gerakan.

Unfortunately, there have been no books written about the days of Penang Island Municipal Council when Tan was the president of the Penang Island Municipality.

It is not necessary to appoint only government officers as mayors or presidents of the local authorities. Hopefully, in the near future, chief ministers or mentris besar will take the trouble to appoint other prominent personalities to be local council presidents or mayors.

Better still, the federal government should review the Local Government Act. It has been long overdue to bring back local government elections.

Meanwhile, it may be interesting if the Penang state government appoints non-government officers to be the heads of local councils.

For instance, Dr Lim Mah Hui is a good example. He has just announced that he would resign as a councillor of the Penang Island City Council. He is a suitable person to be appointed a mayor of Penang Island.

He is familiar with Penang Island as he was a lecturer in Universiti Sains Malaysia and was a local councillor in Penang Island for six years. He spent a considerable amount of time in the disbursement of funds at international level.

Although he is rich enough to buy an expensive car to go around Penang Island, he has made good use of a bicycle as a mode of transport.

Being vocal and full of ideas, it will be interesting and good for the residents of the city to appoint Dr Lim as the mayor of the island.

By Datuk Dr Goh Ban Lee who is interested in urban planning, housing and urban governance. He is also a friend of Dr Lim. Comments: letters@thesundaily.com

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Penang City Council barking up wrong tree ?


Save the trees: Mohamed Idris hugging a tree as other CAP members and protesters stage a peaceful demonstration in Jalan Masjid Negeri.

GEORGE TOWN: A Penang Island City councillor has joined hands with the Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) and other non-governmental organisations in protesting the council’s decision to transplant 18 trees for its road widening project along Jalan Masjid Negeri here.

Councillor Dr Lim Mah Hui said the island’s road widening projects to ease traffic jams were a futile effort as they were not for the long term.

“We have enough evidence to show that road widening is not a permanent solution for heavy traffic.

“Instead, it will only increase the number of vehicles on the road,” he said when met during a peaceful demonstration by CAP in Jalan Masjid Negeri yesterday.

Dr Mah said besides transplanting trees, the council and state government should think of other ways such as carpooling to ease traffic.

“The public has to deal with heavy traffic during peak hours and public holidays.”

Earlier, CAP members held a demonstration to show their objection to the 1.8km road widening project along Jalan Masjid Negeri.

Its president S.M. Mohamed Idris hugged a tree to show his disapproval.

“People and trees are being relocated and environment is being destroyed in the name of development.

“I am extremely upset that consideration is given to vehicles at the expense of trees,” he told the reporters.

Mohamed Idris said this was unacceptable and he described the decision as pure madness.

“The fast pace development in the state is destroying Penang’s natural charm.

“With the greenery being replaced by concrete, Penang will soon become an unliveable place,” he said.

He added that the people should come together to oppose this action as there was a dire need to preserve the island’s tree-lined roads.

It was reported on Feb 6 that 18 trees would be affected along the Jalan Scotland-bound stretch, starting from Lorong Batu Lanchang-Jalan Masjid Negeri junction to the Jalan Air Itam-Jalan Masjid Negeri junction in its 1.8km road widening project along Jalan Masjid Negeri.

There are 33 trees lining the left side of the road where the current two-lane roadway will be increased to three lanes to cope with the heavy traffic flow, but the council managed to reduce the amount of trees affected to 18.

The project is scheduled for completion in May next year.

–  Logeiswary Thevadassa and Reena Hod The Star/Asia News Network
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Youngest USM don: Prof Dr Michael Khoo Boon Chong has made Penang proud


Khoo Boon Chong

Expert views: Prof Khoo delivering his public lecture at USM’s Dewan Kuliah A.

GEORGE TOWN: Penang-born Prof Dr Michael Khoo Boon Chong has made the state proud as the youngest professor in Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM).

Prof Khoo, 39, who obtained his associate professor title in 2007, became a professor in the School of Mathematical Sciences four years ago when he was just 35.

He specialised in Statistical Quan­tity Control.

Prof Khoo, who hails from Bayan Lepas, said he chose to complete all his studies where he was born.

“I got my education, including my PhD in Penang. I went to La Salle School in Batu Lanchang (the school was closed down) from Year One to Year Three and then to St Xavier Primary School in Farquhar Street during Standard Four and continued my studies in St Xavier’s Insitution until I finished Form Six.

“I got my degree in Applied Sciences with first-class honours and my doctorate in Statistics from USM in 1999 and 2001 respectively.

“I joined USM School of Mathe­matical Sciences from 2001 as a lecturer,” he said after his inaugural public lecture after his appointment as a professor.

Citing the reasons for studying in Penang instead of overseas, he said as the only child, he wanted to be with his parents.

“I am not from a rich family. My 65-year-old father, Khoo Kah Peng, was a clerk with the city council and my mother Hoo Kim Bee, 67, is a housewife.

“My main priority during that time was that I wanted to stay close with my parents,” he said.

Prof Khoo said he followed his supervisor’s path to specialise in Statistical Quantity Control.

“I love to do research on Statistical Quantity Control, which is useful for industries to maximise profits and reduce costs,” he said.

He said he was thankful to USM as his hard work and research efforts were appreciated.

Prof Khoo is actively involved in publishing manuscripts and work papers.

He has published almost 100 manuscripts in international journals and presented more than 50 papers at national and international conferences.

BY Crystal Chiam Shiying The Star/Asia News Network

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Rosy outlook for Penang 2014: Strong growth, rise in FDI seen


A roundtable organised by KPMG Penang this week at KPMG new office, the Hunza Tower in Kelawei Road, George Town concludes that Penang will continue to enjoy high economic growth in 2014 and attract foreign direct investors.

Its tourism and property sectors will stay buoyant this year and the recovery in its electrical and electronic sector will continue into 2014.

Penang’s GDP growth in 2013 is estimated to be slightly less than 5%, according to official data.

“Penang remains a highly attractive location for local and foreign investors alike. It is also noteworthy that Penang ranks as one of the top emerging business processing locations worldwide.

“We certainly see healthy prospects for Penang across several industries,” said Johan Idris, managing partner of KPMG in Malaysia.

Penang’s property sector was also expected to maintain its 2013 growth momentum through 2014, he added in a KPMG statement this week.

“The uptrend in businesses and Penang as a desirable location has led to the consistently high demand for both residential and commercial properties on the island.

KPMG Penang, which highlighted tourism as a key sector for the state, expected tourism to remain a mainstay for the state in terms of revenue.

“As a designated UNESCO World Heritage site since 2008, tourist arrivals have steadily increased 14% as at October 2013 recording 4.4 million tourists.

“Penang’s hospitality industry is expected to chalk good returns, particularly as occupancy rates are slated for an upswing. Tourist arrivals are not limited to the ASEAN region but also from across the globe.”

KPMG Penang’s partner, Ooi Kok Seng, said: “The electrical and engineering sector, specifically solar energy equipment manufacturers, has seen a renewed demand.

“We believe that the positive turnaround will continue into 2014 due to the government’s allocation of additional land bank in Batu Kawan. Slated for development, Batu Kawan is an extension of the Bayan Lepas Free Trade Zone which is currently facing limited land space due to rapid expansion.”

KPMG Penang also said foreign direct investments (FDIs) were expected to escalate in 2014 as a result of the completion of major restructuring projects in Penang.

It foresaw additional advisory work in relation to mergers and acquisitions (M&A), transaction and restructuring projects. –The Edge

Rosy outlook for Penang

 

PENANG can expect strong economic growth this year following the upgrade in ranking by Moody’s Investor Service outlook in November.

KPMG Penang Partner-in-Charge Ooi Kok Sheng said the rating upgrade was an encouraging sign for the country.

“With active steps taken by the Government to implement fiscal reforms, Malaysia remains resilient amidst global economic uncertainty,” said Ooi.

He was speaking during KPMG Penang’s inaugural Economic Outlook Roundtable session at their new office at the Hunza Tower in Kelawei Road, George Town.

“Penang remains a highly attractive location for local and foreign investors alike.

“It is also noteworthy that Penang ranks as one of the top emering business processing locations worldwide.”

He said KPMG Penang saw tourism as a key sector for the state and expected it to remain as the mainstay for the state government in terms of revenue.

“Penang’s hospitality industry is expected to chalk good returns, particularly as occupancy rates are slated for an upswing.

“Tourist arrivals are not limited to the Asean region. The state has many visitors from all over the globe.”

Ooi also anticipated a sustained demand for audit, tax and advisory work in 2014.

“With Penang as a manufacturing and export hub for the northern region and dubbed the semiconductor Silicon Valley of Malaysia, many public-listed companies have based their operations in the state,” he said.

Malaysian Association Hotels (Penang Chapter) chairman Mary Ann Harris said prospects for the state’s tourism sector looked good in Visit Malaysia Year 2014.

“However, we are not without our problems as we are in urgent need of a viable public transportation system,” said Harris.

Penang Rehda chairman Datuk Jerry Chan said the state should benchmark according to international standards, rather than local.

“We have been noted as one of the best food destinations in the world and one of the most liveable cities in the world,” he said.

“It is time for us to set a global benchmark in other sectors.”

– The Star/Asia News Network

‘Penang set for healthy growth’

THE opening of the Second Penang Bridge, six new hotels and an influx of medical tourists into the state are expected to keep Penang’s economy healthy this year, say captains of various industries.

Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) Penang chapter chairman Dr Mary Ann Harris said the soon-to-be opened longest bridge in Southeast Asia is expected to be a tourism draw.

“There is definitely going to be more tourists drawn to the new bridge and we expect many of them to participate in the Penang Bridge International Marathon 2014, which is expected to be held at the second bridge,” she said.

The RM4.5 billion Second Penang Bridge, which connects Batu Maung on the island to Batu Kawan in the mainland, serves as a second land crossing after the first Penang Bridge was opened in 1985.

Harris was speaking after presenting Penang’s economic outlook for 2014 at a roundtable session hosted by audit, tax and advisory firm KPMG Penang here yesterday.

The roundtable, which was opened by state executive councillor Datuk Abdul Malik Abdul Kassim; also saw presentations from the Real Estate and Housing Developers Association (Rehda), Penang branch chairman, Datuk Jerry Chan; the Free Industrial Zone, Penang, Companies’ Association president Heng Huck Lee; investPenang general manager Loo Lee Lian; and Malaysian American Electronics Industry (MAEI) Association chairman Datuk Wong Siew Hai.

Also present were KPMG Malaysia managing partner Johan Idris and KPMG’s northern region partner-in-charge Ooi Kok Seng.

Harris said the state’s tourism sector is expected to see the entry of six new hotels of two- to five-star, and the availability of some 1,000 room keys.

MAH Penang’s membership is made up of 50 hotels with a total of 10,000 room keys.

Among the new properties expected to open their doors include the Royale Bintang and Rice Miller Hotel, which are both located at Weld Quay.

Other projects are said to include a hotel in Seberang Jaya and serviced apartments in Teluk Kumbar on the island.

Meanwhile, Penang Health Association chairman Datuk Dr Chan Kok Ewe told the roundtable session that seven private hospitals in Penang (with a total of over 1,000 beds), which are members of the association, had recorded RM370 million in revenue from medical tourists last year.

“Prospects for this sector are encouraging. There have also been suggestions to make Yangon in Myanmar a sister city of George Town in Penang, due to the shared heritage of the two cities.

“There is also anticipated demand from medical tourists in China but whether our hospitals, which have been making significant investments with expansion programmes to cater to medical tourists, can cope with the capacity is the question,” he added, saying that private hospitals in the state are also experiencing manpower shortage.

Meanwhile, Johan in his welcoming address, said KPMG Penang expects the state’s property sector to maintain its momentum throughout this year.

“The industry has certainly fared positively with healthy uptake in retail, residential and industrial lots and is indeed diverse, given the many types of businesses operating in there.”

– Business Times

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