Penang is not Singapore. The limitation of land size of the Penang Island is true, but that is a weak argument. The main factor for the land reclamation on the part of the contentious area on the Island is driven by greed of the housing developers.Penang Island does have more land on the other side of the island (Balik Pulau) but the development in that area in recent years cannot pick up because of weak demand. So, naturally developers do not consider investing in that part of land.
However, The North-East coast Islander centric view of what should constitute as a proud Penangite does more harm than good, fuel the demand for housing units in this already densed and congested area.
It is not the issue that the mainland Seberang Perai does not have land for development, why Penangites should allow the controversial land reclaimation projects to go on and alter the environment and the biodiversity altogether? If you said the government should think about the long term benefits, sure the government must also think about the long term cost.
Singapore did it out of their necessity, so the question is, does Penang really come to that point already while Penang still has the Mainland Seberang Perai and west coast in the island? Why so proud about the Singapore model, while Penang still has something that Singapore has long lost: the biodiversity and the prestine nature in the hills and seas (despite declining rapidly these days because of so-called 'development')? Singapore is willing to compromise their heritage buildings for development, does Penang willing to do so on George Town too?
Some Penangites tend to forget to treasure what they already possess. It is not that I do not want Development, but the development must be balanced and sustainable. That is why the state government's role is crucial in the urban planning. Do you see people protesting too much over the development in Batu Kawan? No, I think that is a good move for the state government to shift the focus on the mainland and create more job opportunities. What some Penangites need to do is, to change the 'North-east coast Islander superiority' complex.