Monday, June 29, 2009

Rifle Range Flat, Air Itam

Rifle Range Flats(打槍埔組屋)

Rifle Range Flats or Pa Cheng Por ( 打槍埔) in Hockkien is the largest low cost housing scheme in Penang. I have asked a few locals, and many have not been there, because it is a low cost residential area. They said the place is crowdy, dirty,noisy, or for security reason....and all the negative perception. For those who know the place, it is part of living culture of Penang. The morning wet market , the events, the hawker foods, night street market, the place is an important base for any political party who want to rule Penang. The hawker foods is good and cheap, only those who know the place,and who dare to explore, will enjoy it.......

Rifle Range Flats are located in Air Itam, the road leading to it formed a loop with Jalan Air Itam. The loop start from Jalan Padang Tembak, and joining Jalan Sempadan at the center of Rifle Range Flats, and it continues to Jalan Air Itam/Jalan Kampong Melayu traffic light junction.

From Jalan Air Itam at Jalan York/Jalan Datuk Kramt junction(near Datuk Kramat Market, the road go to the traffic light junction of Green Lane/Jalan Scotland near the state mosque. The road continue until the Lorong Batu Lancang/Jalan Padang Tembak junction near the market,where the road become one way street. Do not turn left, go straight toward Chung Ling High School, but turn right back to Jalan Air Itam, and then turn left to Jalan Padang Tembak(P221) to Rifle Flat. The P221 will by pass PBA Plant on the right and turn left , which you will see a big car park, Sekolah Kebangsaan Padang Tembak. At the right of road , you will see rows of cars parking on the right ,just beside the United Hockkian Cemetery. Behind the school is the Block J of Rifle Range Flats, on the right side is Block F. Behind Block F, is Block G, and then behind it is Block H. There is no block I. Jalan Padang Tembak end at the Funeral parlour at the right of the end road, the road then turn left and continue to be know as Jalan Sempadan. Crossing the road from F,G,H block, there is bus terminal on the right, going inward is the Block A, B,(inside) and C,D and E outside with the side fronting Jalan Sempadan.

From the Rifle Range Flats, immediately on the left is FRU Police Camp. The road go straight to Jalan Air Itam/Kampong Melayu traffic light junction.

View Larger Map

Rifle Range Flats was Penang first low cost project, built in 1969. It was the first time, the precast concrete elements were used to construct mass houses. There are 9 blocks, from A to J(except I). Each flat is 17 to 18 storey(6 blocks of 17 storey and 3 block of 18 storey) , with 24 units at each level,consists of 4 units of 2 rooms units at the four corners, and the remaining 20 units of one room units. But in Block A,D, F, G ,H and J,the front units of the ground floor are shop units, only back units are residence units. There are total 3735 units of residential and shop units. There are two lifts servicing each block.

Reported there are 25,024 residents in Rifle Range Flats . It is with the highest population density per square feet. The area is also the largest concentration of low cost house units in Penang.

There are one wet market complex,which has a public library and a community hall. On the right of the wet market is the longest hawker complex in Penang,and Malaysia(still rank no 1?). Rifle Range foods in the hawker complex are good and cheap. It provide opportunity for residents to earn a living as a food hawker.

There are lack of basic amenities such as halls, playground, carparking etc for the community in Rifle Range Flats. Opposite the Rifle Range Flats is the United Hokkien Cemetery of Batu Gantong. This is the place the residents used to have morning exercise, the kids used to have badminton in the hall of cremation plant,jogging, learn is the place for recreation. Rifle Range was part of the cemetery and during WW2 it was reported to be the place Japanese armies killed their captives. Block F is facing the cemetery, the night view is special, as it consist the view of the living city and the view of dead cemetery. They must have many stories to tell....

There is one textile factory (龍鳳製衣廠), just beside the wet market, it provides work for the local residents. In the area there is an open air car park, used to be 101 units of low cost double storey terrace house(打枪埔豆干屋),but it was demolished for a multi-level car park under previous BN government. Later the project was also related to the development of Penang Global City Centre Project at Batu Gantong race course, which was faced with opposition from NGOs and Penang people. The issue was one of the factors that caused the downfall of the previous government.

There are no Chinese school in Rifle Range, despite the residents are with the high concentration of Chinese. There is one national school or Malay school,Sekolah Kebangsaan Padang Tembak. But most of the Chinese residents sent their children to Chinese schools in SJK(C)Shang Wu at Jalan Sekolah La Salle near state mosque or SJK(C) Kong Min Pusat at Jalan Air Itam, near Penang Hill.

The Rifle Range Flats may look worn down and dirty, but since 1969 there were children from the pioneer residents who have been successful in life, become doctors, engineers,lawyers,teachers, bankers...... Some families have improved in their income level after the industrialization of Penang under Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu. Many of them have moved elsewhere for better housing units after having better income level, some have migrated to oversea. The pioneer families left are normally old folks. Rifle Range Flats,even a low cost units, but had provided housing for many low income level people from the city, it is the place they call home....they provide them opportunity in life, for a hope to better future, and many of their children have fulfilled their dream.... they are no longer staying in Rifle Range Flats, but the place will be forever in their memory, it is their childhood, it is their home, it is their is part of their life.

The only failure in Rifle Range Flats is the politician, who were not able to improve the living conditions of the residents in Rifle Range Flats until now. The car parking problem may have been improved, but the rubbish disposal problem is still an eye sore. The management of low cost housing and high rise buildings is the challenge of each government. The Rifle Range Flats can be improved,if the state government learn a few tips from Singapore.

It is the house of hope for many poor, and it is still their hope......


  1. may i know what is the title of this song?

  2. I bet you will get a hundred hits this month. hahahaha