Monday, April 30, 2007

Local Phone Numbers

Telephone Directory - 103

Local Area Code: (04) / +60-4

Offices of Elected Officials:-
  • ADUN Bayan Lepas - 6493922
  • ADUN Pulau Betong - 8662202
  • ADUN Teluk Bahang - 8661760
  • AP Balik Pulau: 8662579
  • eKomuniti PERDA - Kongsi (IT Base) - 8668503 / 019-4755843 (Badrul)
  • eKomuniti PERDA - Simpang Empat (Aman Computer) - 8665466 / 012-4213936 (Saharah)
  • eKomuniti PERDA - Teluk Bahang (Aries Enigma) - 8851784 / 012-5357040 (Fahmy)
  • eKomuniti PERDA - Teluk Kumbar (Easy Try) - 6491779 / 012-4549092 (Jamiyah)
  • PBA Balik Pulau - 8665200
  • Pejabat Pos - 8668204
  • Pusat Internet Desa - 8662706
  • TNB Balik Pulau - 6440717 / 15454
Government Agencies

  • LKIM Pulau Pinang - 6265061
  • Agama Daerah - 8668525
  • Agensi Anti Dadah Kebangsaan Daerah - 8691805
  • Belia & Sukan - 8668244
  • Bomba & Penyelamat - 8669444
  • Hospital - 8669333 (ext 103 utk Kecemasan)
  • Hospital PP - 2293333
  • Jabatan Kutipan Hasil MPPP - 8668201
  • Jabatan Pengairan Dan Saliran (JPS) - 8666700
  • Jurutera Daerah - 8669040
  • Kebajikan Masyarakat DBD - 8668442
  • Kem Bina Negara - 8661496
  • Kem Sungai Ara - 6439611
  • KEMAS Daerah - 8664235
  • Kesihatan Daerah - 8665357
  • Mahkamah - 8668301
  • Mahkamah Syariah - 8662282
  • MARA Daerah - 8664969
  • MPPP - 2637637
  • PDC - 6340222
  • Pejabat Daerah - 8691104
  • Pelajaran Daerah - 8664500
  • Pemudahcara Masyarakat Edward Ah Chun 019-4704499
  • Pemudahcara Masyarakat Rohaizan Saad @ Jad 012-4143191/013-4531203
  • Pendaftaran (JPN) - 8668410
  • Penerangan - 8668209
  • Perkhidmatan Vaterinar Daerah - 8668231
  • Pertanian Daerah - 8668429
  • Polis (IPD) - 8662222
  • Polis/Ambulans/Bomba - 999
  • Rela Balik Pulau - 8668334
  • RELA Daerah - 8668334
  • Sinar (Tanjung 2/Balik Pulau) - 2278675 / 019-4747240
  • The Star Bayan Lepas - 6473388
  • Persatuan Pengguna (CAP) - 8299511
  • Pertubuhan Peladang Kawasan - 8668289

Monday, April 23, 2007

Reviving Penang’s batik industry

A TRADITIONAL kampung house in Sungai Burung will serve as a batik centre to revive the fading batik making industry in Penang.

Koperasi Pelancongan Pulau Pinang Bhd (Kopel) is setting up the centre to promote Penang batik for the tourism market.

Kopel executive advisor Muham-mad Farid Saad said the centre would also function as the Balik Pulau Tou-rism Information Centre to promote tourism attractions in the district.

“We will set up a batik gallery and sales booths,” he said, adding that Ko-pel would also provide trishaws and bicycles for rent.

“Penang batik differs from Kelan-tan, Terengganu and Java batik as the designs are more abstract,” he said.

Although batik is a saleable product in the tourist market, the state has only a few batik makers left.

“Kopel will play an active role to coordinate marketing and sales to promote Penang batik. We will set up an office at the Balai Beca (trishaw centre) in Kampung Kolam, George Town,” he said after presenting tokens and certificates to 105 UPSR high achievers from Balik Pulau on behalf of Balik Pu-lau MP Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya.

Muhammad Farid said the batik making industry took its root in the state in the 1980s.

“Penang created a niche in abstract designs.

“The industry, however, did not go far because of poor marketing strategies. That is why we are stepping in.”

On the event, he said it was the third year prizes were given to top UPSR scorers.

“This is to encourage the students to study hard. We want them to realise that education will help them secure a better future,” he said.

SOURCE: The Star (North)

Friday, April 13, 2007

Upgrade killer stretch


MOTORISTS in Penang who use Jalan Tun Sardon in Balik Pulau daily to get to work have appealed to the authorities to upgrade the road, especially at KM5.4 which has been dubbed a killer stretch.

At least five accidents have been reported along the stretch over the last two months, including a fatal case involving a motorcyclist last month.

“I feel like I am gambling with my life every time I navigate through the winding, inclined stretch. A wrong judgment or turn could have a drastic impact,” said Magnum Ooh, a 35-year-old insurance agent.

“Just a few weeks ago, a motorcycle collided with a car and both crashed into a guardrail before plunging into the ravine. It was reported that the motorcyclist was killed,” he added.

Thousands of motorists from Balik Pulau and Paya Terubong use the road daily to get to the Bayan Lepas Industrial Zone, Penang Bridge or town.

Balik Pulau resident, Tan Jit Keong, 41, urged the Penang Municipal Council to take measures to ensure the safety of road users.

“Those who are not familiar with the stretch may face some difficulty upon reaching the sharp bend. It will be even more dangerous if they speed,” he noted.

Batu Uban assemblyman Goh Kheng Sneah who inspected the site yesterday called on the Penang Municipal Council and Public Works Department (JKR) to give a special allocation of RM200,000 to upgrade the stretch.

“It is necessary to widen and straighten the stretch as it poses a danger to road users,” he said.

“Even Chief Minister Tan Sri Koh Tsu Koon has expressed concern.”

Councillor Dr Thor Teong Gee, who was also present, said the council had instructed its engineering department to conduct a study on how to improve road safety there.

“The council’s engineering department will conduct a comprehensive study with JKR on upgrading the stretch of road,” he said, adding that temporary measures to prevent accidents included installing extra guardrails and reflectors.

SOURCE: The Star Malaysia @

Thursday, April 12, 2007

No permit for show


PENANG, Thursday April 12, 2007: A Wayang Kadboard or cardboard shadow play to be held this weekend in George Town and Balik Pulau is not an endorsed event under Visit Malaysia 2007.

Penang Tourism Development Committee chairman Teng Chang Yeow said the show was not part of any VM2007 programme, adding that there was no request from the non-government organisations organising the show to use the logo.

Flyers advertising the show entitled Tragedi Kg Berembang have been distributed to the public over the past few days and they carry a VM2007 logo with a hibiscus motif.

Although the show has been described as a cultural event, police have warned those who attend the play that they would be participating in an illegal gathering.

George Town OCPD Asst Comm Azam Abd Hamid said the show organisers did not apply for a police permit to hold the shows at Weld Quay and the Balik Pulau public library.

“The organisers should cancel the show as they can be arrested under the Police Act for organising a gathering without a permit if the show goes ahead as planned.

“They should have submitted an application to the police. We always try to be fair when approving such permits,” he said yesterday.

ACP Azam warned that those who"

SOURCE: The Star Malaysia

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Silat gayong gaining popularity with teens


SILAT gayong (traditional martial arts) is gaining popularity among teena-gers in Balik Pulau, Penang, thanks to a training programme held at Balik Pulau Sports Com-plex.

About 100 youths throng the complex every Wednesday and Saturday to learn the skills from experts.

After mastering basic skills, they will proceed to the advanced stage.

Persatuan Seni Silat Pusaka Gayong Malaysia Sungai Ara branch chairman Rusli Hashim said the programme was gain-ing popularity among the younger generation because of ongoing promotional activi-ties.

“We are aggressively promo-ting this martial art among students. With the support from school authorities, many young talents have signed up for the programme in recent months,” he said.

No holds barred:Two female exponents using sticks to demonstrate attacking and defensive moves during the 'Buka Gelangang' ceremony at SM Teknik Balik Pulau.

Rusli said the response from the students, especially from secondary schools, had been very encouraging.

“Silat gayong also pro- motes self-discipline and mutual respect. Even parents support this programme because it keeps their children from being involved in undesirable activities.

“That is why we have extended the classes to many schools, especially those in Balik Pulau,” he said.

“Sungai Ara is the main location for silat gayong activities on Penang island,” he said.

He said the association had 200 members comprising school students and adults.

Rusli added that classes were also conducted in Batu Uban Sports Complex.

“A person can go far in life with discipline and sense of respect. The training sessions also provide an avenue for the participants to hone leadership skills. It also helps boost self confidence,” he said.

SOURCE: The Star Malaysia

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Here's a windshield view of car moving along the sloppy roads towards Balik Pulau amid the visible mudslides on the hillside posted by a YouTube user umcm -- this guy published a decent collection of windshield view of several road trips around Malaysia, nice!

Balik Pulau (aka "Balek Pulau", or fondly known as "BP", "bee-pee" or "lik lau" by the younger generations and the thousands of students studying or having studied at one or several of the few popular academic institutions there) ? And a blog dedicated for this Penang's (southwest) district of towns and villages?? Why Not?

Never heard of this place? I don't blame you. A search on Google for "balik pulau" as of today (7 APR 2007) would pull you a list of just slightly over 50,000 pages mentioning it -- Note the quotes, or you'd get a result six time bigger which include anything with "balik" and "pulau" on the same page as both of these words that make up the name phrase are common Malay words meaning "back" (or "going back/returning home") and "island" respectively. And 50,000 is in fact an approximate number of residents of the county that bears "11000" as its postcode (of about 300,000 residents in the southwest district of Pulau Pinang). [Yahoo however pulls three times larger result for "balik pulau" compared to Google] -- Comparatively, a search on "Penang" or "Kuala Lumpur" would pull a result of at least 20 times larger each (i.e. seven millions each), in terms of the number of pages mentioning them.

Adding to the plentiful of words that each of those web pages tells of Balik Pulau are the thousands more each of the 786 or so images (found through Google Image Search and literally equating each picture with a thousand words). But is it justified to have the millions of these words summarized into a single paragraph of four sentences into the world most relied (online and publicly maintained) encyclopedia as of 7apr07 - the Wikipedia at or its Malay language counterpart - How reliable !!

There are obviously more to talk about this favorite town of many, as sporadically mentioned in over a hundred usenet posts, dozens of email-based discussion groups (googlegroups, yahoogroups (re-branded from etc.) and perhaps the thousands more posts in various Internet blogs, forums and travel-related web pages. There are also 100s of individuals claiming Balik Pulau as their home per profiles in Friendster and MySpace. And this blog I thought would serve as a good base to start and continuously talk about this town that I started to call home again just recently -- after over sixteen years deserting it.

I never thought I'd be spending so much time in Balik Pulau again, the town I started to 'forcefully' and briefly made my home for three full years beginning exactly 20 years ago. But as they say it: Deja-Vu! I was entering my thirteen years of age in January 1987 and my all-aces school result for "Penilaian Darjah Lima" (Uniform Examination for Standard Five schoolers) over twelve months earlier rewarded me a full scholarship (with room and board paid as well as entitlement to the minimal RM25 monthly allowance -- a huge amount of money at the time for a small kid from a less able family background like me!) to start my first year of high school at a rather new prestigious science boarding school at Pondok Upeh Road as it was known as, ie. Maktab Rendah Sains MARA Balik Pulau (MRSM-BP) or literally translated to MARA Junior Science College (MJSC) which started its first intakes in just three years earlier in 1984. I'd say that moment was the first time I got myself acquainted with Balik Pulau as I can't recall earlier trips to this town although a number of my fellow older relatives were already residents of this town at the time -- I must be too young to remember anyway if I had indeed been here earlier.

So, what can I recall of (the old, pre-2000) Balik Pulau?

It was a very remote place for my family and I -- far from our homes in (the not so far actually) Padang Tembak (in Ayer Itam town or the larger GEORGETOWN township of the slightly more populous northeast district of Penang -- None of which are surprisingly of "city status" as of this time) and Bukit Gedung (in the Bayan Baru new township of greater BAYAN LEPAS -- another big metro-like town that's still not officially a "city" as amicably accepted/desired by the Penang state government under Tan Sri Dr Koh as its Chief Minister since 1990). I had to go through an adventurous roads back-riding my dad's Vespa scooter passing the durian road nets (above the roads) of Paya Terubong Road towards the steep Tun Sardon Road or the snaky and long Teluk Kumbar Road. The old roads were so dangerous that my dad were forced to employ his scooter's gear to stop once when its brake cable broke loose following an almost collision with another lorry (truck with wooded cargo bucket on its back -- normally green-colored) that were making a pass of another vehicle. I must say that was the nearest to being fall of the cliff for me (another while skiing in Michigan, USA many years later -- right after my friend and I relieved ourselves of the cable car at the top of a hill). I'm not kidding when telling you that I've seen many vehicles stranded down the hills of these roads toward Balik Pulau -- how unfortunate for them to have slided and flown down!

The whole township was very much undisturbed unlike several other Penang townships on the east side of the island, namely Paya Terubong, Gelugor and Bayan Baru that were going rapid urban development. It still is today despite the many recent urbanization activities. I've read postings by several fans of this town praising its serenity as one of its best features. And I'm here to attest to that based on my own experience: the whole town started to be rather quite as early as 10pm (past night market hours), with very few vehicles passing through its main road. In a residential area like mine, opening a gate or grilled door would easily alarm several doors of neighbors at this early evening hours. Nobody plays loud music or turn on their TVs too loud. The only sounds that could be heard on most evenings are the sounds of children in their tuition classes, studying or making school assignments, or the voices of their tutors. And no sounds of loud motorcycles' engines or loud chatters of the typical "Mat Rempits" who lurk in many Malaysian cities.

Balik Pulau especially the areas near Pondok Upeh (heck, even the name of this road reminds you of how underdeveloped the area is -- "pondok" means "hut", mainly a poorly built structure resembling a home, with just an attap and a few poles to hold it!) was still very much a collection of small villages centered around a small town of Kongsi -- the only urban like area with a tiny roundabout at its three-road junction and a tiny bus depot just next to the roundabout that can fit no more than eight buses at night time if I recall correctly - the only major public transportation considering that the town lacks taxis, trishaws or its own local airport (up to this day!).

Much of my time during the years of 1987-1990 were spent inside a well-gated mosquito-infested (typical for less developed areas in Malaysian hot and wet weather; I had to setup "kelambu" nets at bedtime during my first year there) school campus but I managed to peek the surrounding at times especially during weekends when I excused myself to out of the campus and returned only a day later (illegally, because MRSM students were only permitted to go out to town no more than several hours on Saturday, but I had legit excuses like spending a night at my own house and returning with a parent). Other outings simply include just about any afternoon (illegally as usual), the chauffeured trips to town hospital (more frequent than actually required) or during recreational outings on Saturday mornings with uniformed club groups or my virtual family group ("homeroom" as it was fondly called). The most popular trailing route has got to be the one going up north from Kongsi, which I just recently found out first-hand by motobike-riding, that it leads to many nice peaks of the many Penang hills and biking terrains reaching as far as to the scenic Air Itam Dam.

However, post-merdeka Balik Pulau never lacked public amenities desired for a self-sufficient township. It has one of the earliest established police station, fire station, a judiciary court, a full hospital (not just small clinics), a post office (now with public internet access @ Pusat Internet Desa), a bus station (as the final destination in Penang from ferry jetty in Georgetown), a number of public and private schools, a sizable wet market, places of worships (mosques, churches etc.), banks and shops. Food eateries were aplenty in the forms of hawker stops and restaurants.

So, what has changed?

Today, Balik Pulau welcome numerous development activities and increasing population while maintaining its serene environment. The old buildings and shophouses of Kongsi and Simpang Empat towns still maintain their traditional look and the tiny roundabout seems unchanged. However, the old police station next to the roundabout is now a centre for drug enforcement and rehabilitation centre as a new police headquarters for southwest district is now fully operational. Next to the new police headquarters are a rather huge and beautiful mosque and a brand new public library.

The roads are constantly being renovated, although still maintain its wide -- the most recent improvement being a bridge connecting Kongsi to Simpang Empat (4-road junction connecting Pondok Upeh, Kampung Paya, Sungai Burong and Genting). There is even an elevated highway being rapidly constructed along the hillsides of the Genting Plains from Genting to Gertak Sanggol/Teluk Kumbar poised to cut travel time from Bayan Lepas International Airport to the heart of Balik Pulau from about half a hour down to perhaps as little as fiveteen minutes. More brick-built shops, landed houses and flats/apartments surfaced along the major Balik Pulau Road, notably one in Taman Sri Indah (near a new TM telco exchange, and across the street from police HQ), and another in Simpang Empat-Genting. The major banks in Balik Pulau number to four in total, namely Bank Simpanan Nasional, Maybank, CIMB (formerly the acquired Southern Bank) and Ambank - enough to enable healthy commerce in addition to the broadband connectivity provided by TM.

Village houses and sizable paddy fields (the only such fields remaining in the Penang island, and definitely are much smaller compared to the ones in Seberang Prai or throughout the neighboring state of Kedah) still form the unique sceneries along the roadsides of Balik Pulau especially the ones from Permatang in the north, passing Bagan Air Hitam and Sungai Burong and leading to Kampung Perlis and Pulau Betong at the southwest tip of Penang island (a small town in Balik Pulau vicinity situated next to the actual small islands called Pulau Betong). A popular eatery serving Laksa Janggus (next to a "janggus" tree) is located on the road from Balik Pulau town towards Pulau Betong, next to these village wooden houses. This very road which later turn into a small lane ends at a rather nice and virtually undisturbed beach known to very few locals and participants of a government-owned nation-building (training) camp that's located next to the beach. (PSST: The Star used to feature an article about Pantai Acheh beach, but I suppose they mistook it with this very Pulau Betong beach which are two different beaches separated by a distance of about 10 kilometres!).

There are more academic instutitions today including the notably the newer Kolej Kemahiran Tinggi MARA (KKTM - "MARA High Skills College"), Island College of Technology (ICT), a technical high school which also houses a branch of a community college (Kolej Komuniti Bayan Baru). Simpang Empat-Genting also welcome sports a new sports & recreational complex where many public events are held at, and a new college is being built next to it. Most recent news reported a plan to build a RM10-million National Service Training Camp in Bukit Kecil, Balik Pulau. (The Star, 2 APR 2007).

Obviously Balik Pulau is no Kepala Batas in Seberang Perai Utara provice of Penang, the latter being the home of Dato Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, present Prime Minister of Malaysia which had undergone even more rapid transformation for the past five years from a small farmer's village into a potential base for state central administration and commerce hub rivaling Georgetown or Bayan Lepas in the near future, but a local can obviously notice how Balik Pulau is definitely being transformed into an able city as the administrative centre of southwest district of Penang which would include Bayan Lepas (one of the very fast growing industrial MSC-status cybercities) -- one of the only two districts of the Penang island, another being the northeast district covering Georgetown, Jelutong and Paya Terubong. Credits for developments in Balik Pulau could as well go to its own representative, a long-time respected politician, Datuk Dr Hilmi Haji Yahya, formerly Penang Deputy Chief Minister of Penang, who now serves as the Parliamentary Secretary of the Finance Ministry.

All good, huh?

Not really... Besides the landslide problem as mentioned in above news article and to the dismay of many, Balik Pulau was not excluded from an ugly effect of nation urbanization. Recent shocking news show an aerial view of a tortured terrain, where "almost half a hill in Kampung Sungai Pinang, Balik Pulau, has been illegally cleared, leaving an ugly, bald patch and boulders hanging precariously over some edges. " (The Star, 29 MAR 2007).

For more monitorings of Penang, see

That's all for today folks! (Took me more than four hours for research and writing this thorough first post). I'll return with more photos once I got my Nokia 6630 phone repaired for snapping some scenes and Balik Pulau entities -- For now, check out linked sites for original photos and maps. If you have anything to add, don't hesitate to add your comments, and request that I add anything in particular. Thanks in advance!

Other resources:-

Current Weather

BeePee in Videos


@BalikPulau in Tweetland

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