An analysis of Penang


Penang is geographically divided into two sections, Penang Island and Seberang Perai (SP). The two sections are then further subdivided into five districts. The North-East and South-West districts fall within the Penang Island, whereas SP consists of North, Central and South SP.

The mainland covers 71.68% of the state, with North SP as the largest district within the mainland as well as the state as a whole. The remaining two districts are South and Central SP, which take up 23.4% and 22.8% respectively.

The North-East (where state capital George Town is located) and South-West districts make up Penang Island, filling 11.5% and 16.8% of Penang respectively.

The population level is generally on an upward but sedate trend over the years, with the highest growth recorded in 2010 at 2.06%. However, there was a one per cent decrease in population in 2011.

Despite being the smallest, the North- East district has the highest population density as it includes George Town, and is the administrative, commercial and cultural centre of Penang. The population density in the North-East district constantly grew at an average rate of 1.4% over the years, even when most of the districts were experiencing downturn in 2011. This reflects not only the population growth but also the people’s more preferred area choice for residence.

The second densest district is Central SP, followed by the South-West district and North SP. South SP is the least dense district, although it registered high growth rates of 10.6%. There has also been an increase in new industrial setups and the inflow of investment into the mainland, especially South SP.

With the opening of the new Sultan Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah Bridge, SP, particularly Batu Kawan, is more accessible from Penang Island and is better linked.

It has been an upward trend for the number of international and local tourist arrivals over the years. In 2008, Penang hit 6.31 million tourists after George Town was officially recognised as a Unesco World Heritage Site that year. The boom subsequently slowed down but held steady at between 5.96 and 6.09 million tourists up till 2012.

There was a turning point in 2009, when the number of international tourists started exceeding local visitors. Since then, the percentage has remained constant, reaching an almost equal proportion between local and international tourists as shown by the close movement between the two lines on the graph in Figure 3.

Most prefer to own either motorcycles or cars, which make up 95.16% of various types of motor vehicles in 2012. There were 2.2 million registered private motor vehicles in 2012.

Up till 2012, air pollution was consistently the biggest form of reported pollution in Penang. Apart from the high number of factories in Penang, the air quality was probably affected by occasional incidents of haze stemming from domestic and neighbouring countries’ slash-and-burn clearance activities during the dry season. In 2012, domestic waste was reported to be the highest contributor to pollution.

Crime has generally decreased by approximately 14.2% in 2012, compared to 2011. Violent crimes have gone down by 10.5%, whereas property-related crimes have decreased by 14.8%. Murder, however, is seeing an upward trend, increasing by 28.3%, as are car thefts (4.7%), snatch thefts (39.8%) and van thefts (120%).

Gang robbery remains Penang’s biggest concern, making up the largest proportion of violent crimes in Penang, although it has gone down by 12.3% in 2012. Human slaughter, in second place, also saw a reduction of 6.8%. The rate of rape decreased in 2012, but we are still seeing at least one (reported) rape case every four days.

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