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Impact Penang

Penang is synonymous with its food galore and sandy beaches. Located on the northwest coast of Peninsular Malaysia, it is the second-largest city in Malaysia by population (1.77 million in 2021). It stands as an economic powerhouse in Malaysia, teemed with many tourist attractions and dubbed the “Silicon Valley of The East.” Yet, some fall through the cracks in this fast-paced city. And to ensure the “Pearl Of The Orient” remain glistening, the plights of each and everyone should be heard.

Key Issues Impacting Penang Today

A closer look at critical issues that affect the pulse of Penang

Affordable Housing For...

As cities develop and job opportunities increase, more and more people are enticed to set up home in cities in hopes for a brighter future. The problem is that not many people can actually...

Caring For Penang Ageing's...

As of 2020, 7.1% (2.32 million) of Malaysia’s population are aged 65 and above1. The United Nations Population Project predicts that in less than twenty years (2045), Malaysia will be an...

Greater Inclusivity For the Migran...

Malaysia is the largest importer of labour in Asia1. Migrant workers (otherwise known as migrant or foreign workers) in Malaysia, implies a foreigner doing low-skilled work2.

Forging Towards An Inclusive Future

The issues raised are aligned with the Global Sustainable Development Goals in order to build a future that is inclusive and sustainable for generations to come.

Fast Facts On Critical Issues In Penang

Significant data points to clue you in on the current situation

  1. Malaysia is Asia’s top workforce importers (Andaraya (M) Sdn Bhd, n.d.).  In Q2 of 2021, there were 181,460 unsold residential properties units (Housing Watch, 2021) in Malaysia and as of now has 2.32 million population aged 65 and above (DoSM, 2020).
  2. Penang holds records for one of the highest migrant labour concentrations (World Bank, 2019), and 2nd in high ageing population concentration (D. Murad, 2020) in Malaysia.
  1. Malaysian doctors discovered migrant labourers living in cramped quarters with 20 individuals sharing a 1,000 sq. ft house to conserve money, however, causing more unnecessary issues (B. Mathiaparanam, 2020).
  2. Penang is currently building more dorms to overcome migrant-related issues and now has one of the country’s largest undertakings – providing 2,100 rooms with new dormitory plans of 35,000 beds (The Star, 2020).
  3. A study of migrant workers in Penang found that the most prevalent disease was cold (27.22%), followed by musculoskeletal pain (25.65%) and indigestion (18.32%)  (Htay et al, 2020).
  4. Nearly 15% of migrant respondents reported injuries, 77.8% from household but only half were sought with medical help (Htay et al, 2020).
  5. Additionally, employers may have to pay between RM12,000 and RM18,000 to recruitment agency to be able to secure a worker.  Undocumented migrant labourers may also be required to pay more or less than this sum – which many go into debt later (B. Mathiaparanam, 2020).
  6. Migrant workers were  reportedly forced to work for 16 hour days with no leave. They face non-payment, sexual assault, job injury, and even death (K.K. Soong, 2017).
  1. In 2019, Penang had 448,700 households (DoSM, 2020), however, low-to-middle-income residents confronts difficulty owning a home (Y. Haizzan et al., 2018).
  2. Residential properties in Penang have been rated unaffordable based on the median house price and maximum affordable home price (Housing Watch, 2020).
  3. Georgetown estimated median house price of RM600,000 is substantially more than the anticipated maximum price of an affordable property of RM294,000 based on its monthly median household income of RM5,477 (Housing Watch, 2020).
  4. Penang’s low-cost housing alternatives could only be resided if tenant earns no more than RM750 – RM1,500 (household) per month (KPKT, 2020).
  5. The Penang state government also organises cheap homes priced between RM42,000 (650sq feet) and RM300,000 (900sq feet) for households earning between RM2,500- RM10,000 per month (, 2021).
  6. However, Penang PPR applications might take 11 years – which shows difficulty for low-income families (P. Nambiar, 2019). But many remain hopeful due to the security of the development. 
  1. Penang would rank first among all Malaysian states in terms of population ageing by 2040 (D. Murad, 2020). The state government’s readiness to serve the senior population may range widely – but the challenges are equally numerous.
  2. University Malaysia identified that 9 out of 10 older adults would only receive an average RM150 monthly contribution from their children (MARS, 2021) and Penang Government is committed to assist the older adults with a contribution of less than RM400 a year – with or without support (Social Welfare Department Penang, n.d.).
  3. Penang’s strong youth exodus to Kuala Lumpur or overseas are leaving many elderlies alone or with their spouse.
  4. With Malaysia’s growing dependency ratio, it takes nearly ten workers to support one old person [Index Mundi, 2019] especially when one has health issues/disabilities.
  5. On average, a healthy older individual without loans or debts needs RM36,000 per year to live comfortably [SMDK, 2016], but the amount will increase over the life span. As the inflation rate increases, the amount might increase over time. 
  6. People who cannot afford private care must rely on charitable residential care facilities. However, tenants must complete a rigorous application process prior to admission [C. P, Yee, 2020].



Significant data points to clue you in on the

current situation

Caring For Penang Ageing's Population

Development Policies & Aid In Penang

State governments and local changemakers play a significant role in transforming the economic and social landscape of the place, especially for the marginalised and underprivileged communities.

Below is a list of some key Penang policies, plans and programmes that are currently in place:

Penang 2030

Penang 2030, launched in 2018 is an action plan that focuses on improving livability, economy, civil participation and balanced development to achieve a “family-focused, green and smart state”. This will be achieved through three different initiatives:

“Placemaking Initiatives” in the state are being identified as focal points for positive efforts to develop Penang as a family-focused clean and green home for its inhabitants.

“Community-building Initiatives” aimed at engaging and empowering the population as a whole are underway, bringing agencies and elected representatives together for broad and deep impact on society.

Finally, the “Industry Engagement Initiatives” signify a tripartite effort between government, civil society and the private sector to build on Penang’s manufacturing ecosystem, broaden investor base and prepare for the digital future.

Penang Transport Master Plan (2015-2065)

This masterplan is the key solution to meet the expected increase in residents travel demand over the next 50 years (2015-2065) as a result of higher employment and investments, population growth and the booming tourism industry. It hopes to

i) Reduce major traffic issues in Penang

ii) Lower travel expenses

iii) Reduce journey times

iv) Create job opportunities and

v) Provide various modes of transport.

Digital Transformation Masterplan (2021-2023)

Digital Penang is established to enable and orchestrate digital strategy to capture opportunities in the new economy and upgrade liveability.

To achieve these aspirations, the masterplan is aligned to Federal strategies as outlined in MyDigital, JENDELA and MDEC initiatives.

At the State level, this masterplan is will be aligned to all sub-plans such as Penang Connectivity Masterplan, SmartState Masterplan, Penang Green Agenda, Penang Tourism Masterplan. This is to ensure that the element of technology are congruent and consistent to deliver great experience and outcomes.

This plan only outlines the strategic initiatives for the first 3 years to set the foundation for transformation towards Penang 2030.

Happiness In Penang Index

The Happiness in Penang (HIP) Index measures the quality of life in the state.

Four domains with the acronym FEEL was measured:

Freedom and Governance (F),

Economic Wellbeing (E),

Environmental Sustainability (E) and

Liveability and Social Wellbeing (L).

In general, it was found that the respondents’ satisfaction was higher in the domain of liveability and social wellbeing, where most indicators achieved a strong level of satisfaction.

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