Monday, December 05, 2016

What’s to become of Penang’s Sore Thumb?

(A history and update of "Sore Thumb" of Tanjong Bungah)
Around 2005 - Some reclamation
A piece of prime seafront public land on the Tanjong Bungah coast has been progressively reclaimed since 2000.  In 2006 when the reclamation became monstrous, residents in Tanjong Bungah began describing this rocky promontory as the ‘Sore Thumb’ as it stood out like one, marring the coastline between The Cove and Penang Swimming Club. 
2006 January. Green roof is Tanjong Club.
Crane is The Cove. White roof is Penang Swimming Club.
The original plot of land measures 1.5 acres and is identified by its land title as Lot 4658.  In 1994 the state government granted a lease, over Lot 4658, of 60 years (1994 – 2055) to Purerich Realty Sdn BHd at a cost of RM1 million. This was in spite of the fact that the company did not own any adjoining land and thus did not have any legal right to apply for the lease.  
2006 January with activities
 While the State government at the time knew about the irregularity of the lease, and the subsequent land reclamation, nothing was done to rectify the lease or stop the extension of Lot 4658 by way of dumping rocks off the coast.
2006 January Close-up 1
Three commercial attempts have been made to transform the land to a marina with lay out plans increasing in grandiosity with each attempt.  Planning permission was in fact granted in 1996 to Purerich to construct a marina, but after six extensions the planning permission expired in 2007 without any engineered foundation being prepared for the reclaimed land (Sore Thumb). 
2006 January Close-up 2
The lease of the land was then transferred to Province Valley Sdn Bhd in 2009 and by the following year plans were prepared for a bigger marina with a 7.7 acre pontoon to berth 80 boats alongside a 5-story hotel and retail outlets, but again the proposal came to nothing.

2013 By Anil Netto (
  More 2013 images from Anil Netto at Flickr

2016 September. Sore Thumb and One Tanjong entrance
The third and most recent attempt was in April 2015 when the Penang Development Corporation (PDC) called for tenders for a massive marina that would berth 200 – 400 boats, including super yachts (24 m or longer). Total land reclamation would be allowed for a maximum of 20 acres and would be leased for 99 years. The entire “study area” would span from Tanjong Tokong to Batu Ferringhi and 5 km into the sea, possibly engulfing the iconic Pulau Tikus island; a minuscule island steeped in local legends.  Fortunately, by June this year, this massive marina plan was discontinued.  

2016 September. Sore Thumb, future Coastal Park entrance.
Nevertheless the ‘Sore Thumb’ remains.  This mound of raw earth and rocks has become overgrown with shrubs and grass.  The Tanjong Bunga Residents’ Association (TBRA) has repeatedly appealed to and requested the State authorities to give this public space to the people of Tanjong Bunga. 

2016 September. Future Tanjong Bunga Coastal Park entrance
Nine years ago in 2007, the TBRA collected 1500 signatures from residents to petition for the ‘Sore Thumb’ to be converted to a public coastal park.  In 2010 the proposal was formally submitted to the State authorities, detailing the creation of three levels of recreational space; sports fields as well as paths for joggers and walkers thus creating a natural environment devoid of permanent structures to keep costs down and avoid pollution.  

2016 September. Tanjong Bunga Coastal Park entrance
This piece of reclaimed land can easily be converted to a public coastal park for all to enjoy.  The local State assembly representative, YB Teh Yee Cheu in 2012 called for the Sore Thumb to be preserved as a green lung under the Local Agenda 21 and to be gazetted as the Tanjong Bunga Coastal Park. The last thing the public want to see happen here is an exclusive, sprawling marina, restricting public access to the beach.
Ruk Uman

For more info, search this blog for "sore thumb".
Or search Anil Netto's blog:

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