GEORGE TOWN: A Hong Kong real estate magnate, who bought a mall on Penang island, says Malaysia is a “blessed country” with peace-loving people.
“You have rice, oil and arable land. Malaysia is blessed with gifts. This is only a second home for us, but we see your country becoming the first home for our future generations, and we want to help you to become better,” he said.
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The tycoon, who wished to be known only as Law, granted an exclusive interview to The Star after it was learned that he had bought Island Plaza, a mall of about 500,000sq ft on the island, for an undisclosed amount.
It used to be Penang’s most glamorous shopping mall in the late 1990s.
“Your interest rates on investments are higher than in Hong Kong and your inflation is low compared with other South-East Asian nations.
“Malaysians are known worldwide as a peace-loving people. Elsewhere, people riot when they are unhappy. But Malaysians will always prefer peaceful solutions,” he added.
In Japan, Europe and the United States, Law said he could not stay there for more than a month because of the rigidity and intolerance.
“I am a world traveller, investing everywhere. And Penang is the best. I can stay for months here and be happy,” he said.
Law bought his first home in Penang six years ago – an 11,000sq ft super condo – and now owns over 10 properties here.
His latest purchase, Island Plaza, makes him a new entrant to Penang’s large-scale commercial property scene.
Although the Chinese community in Penang is mainly Hokkien, Law said he found that he could easily converse in Cantonese.
He expressed amazement that Penangites he spoke with told him that they learned the Cantonese dialect just by watching Hong Kong movies and television series.
“Penangites are a smart people, to learn Cantonese so easily,” he said.
He could see room for improvement in Penang.
He urged Penang and Melaka to continually preserve their Unesco World Heritage Site status.
“Everywhere else in the world, the old ways are destroyed but in Penang and Melaka, this is preserved and somehow merged with the new.
“It is not just the buildings. Old Chinese cultures, not even practised in China anymore, are still practised here and even the old colonial ways of the British are still here.
“We must preserve all this,” he said.
From his experience in Hong Kong and Singapore, Law said he expected Penang’s population to swell by 10 to 20 times in the years to come.
“The traffic infrastructure here must be enhanced. This is a big priority,” he said.
After borders were reopened, Law said he returned to Penang this year and saw the jams brought about by “revenge tourism”.
“I see society and the economy growing bigger, but not the roads. I have seen this in Hong Kong and Singapore, so I hope Penang acts fast before it gets worse,” he added.