George Town, 28 June 2021
In a statement released by Penang Gerakan Chairman Oh Tong Keong, he claims that I had stated during my recent interview on an Astro Awani talkshow that there was only 10 acres of land left in Batu Kawan left for industrial development.
If Oh had watched the interview himself, then perhaps he needs subtitles because clearly that was not what I said. In explaining why Penang urgently needs new land for industrial expansion, I said that Batu Kawan Industrial Park (BKIP) no longer had any more available industrial plots of land that are more than 10 acres in size.
In actual fact, we only have less than 80 hectares of industrial land left in BKIP, but they are all in small plots of less than 10 acres each. Major corporations who are looking to invest billions of ringgit usually require plots of 20 to 30 acres if not up to 50 acres for their plants. For this reason we have been forced to turn down some investment opportunities.
While there is currently a shortage of industrial land, the Penang State Government is working hard on short, medium and long-term plans to fulfil the demand of the industrial sector. This includes acquiring more land in Seberang Perai so that we can expand our industrial sector and provide more employment for the people of Penang.
However, even attempts to acquire more land would sometimes get stuck in legal challenges like what happened earlier this month when the High Court granted leave to a private landowner to challenge the acquisition of 380 acres of land in Byram Estate, Seberang Perai Selatan by the Penang State Government via state-owned Penang Development Corporation (PDC).
Contrary to claims that the Penang State Government only concentrates development on the island, the fact is that there are 10 industrial parks in Penang and nine out of the 10 are located in Seberang Perai. Maybe Oh himself should visit Seberang Perai more often so he can see for himself the many industrial parks that we have in all three districts from north to south.
The Penang South Islands project is part of our long-term strategy to ensure we will be able to offer a world-class ESG-compliant (environmental, social, governance) smart industrial park in Penang that will be able to attract the biggest names in industry. By doing so, we will be able to secure the future economic security of all Penangites.
Zairil Khir Johari
Penang State EXCO for Infrastructure and Transport