Bayan Lepas

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Bayan Lepas
Other transcription(s)
 • Chinese峇六拜
Skyline of Bayan Lepas
Bayan Lepas is located in George Town, Penang
Bayan Lepas
Bayan Lepas
Location within    George Town in    Penang
Coordinates: 5°17′N 100°16′E / 5.283°N 100.267°E / 5.283; 100.267Coordinates: 5°17′N 100°16′E / 5.283°N 100.267°E / 5.283; 100.267
Country Malaysia
State Penang
DistrictSouthwest Penang Island
CitySeal of George Town.svg George Town
 • Local governmentPenang Island City Council
 • Mayor of Penang IslandYew Tung Seang
 • Bayan Lepas State AssemblymanAzrul Mahathir Aziz (Amanah)
 • Balik Pulau Member of ParliamentMuhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik (PKR)
 • Total151.7 km2 (58.59 sq mi)
4 m (13.1 ft)
 • Total122,654
Time zoneUTC+8 (MST)
 • Summer (DST)Not observed
Postal code
Area code(s)+6046

Bayan Lepas is a town within the city of George Town in the Malaysian state of Penang.[1] It is located within the Southwest Penang Island District, near the southeastern tip of Penang Island. Founded in the 19th century, Bayan Lepas is now home to the Penang International Airport and an eponymous Free Industrial Zone, dubbed the Silicon Valley of the East due to its size.[2][3] Various multinational electronic and engineering firms, including Bosch, Motorola, Dell, Intel and Hewlett-Packard, have set up factories and assembly plants within the town.

According to urban legend, Bayan Lepas was founded in the late 19th century by a family from Sumatra.[4] The Penang International Airport, the first civilian airport to be built in British Malaya, was opened in 1935. For much of the town's history, it was an agricultural area, with rice farming a major source of income.[5] In the 1970s, the Bayan Lepas Free Industrial Zone was created, ushering in the rapid development of the town.[4][5]

Bayan Lepas proper is surrounded by residential townships such as Bayan Baru and Sungai Ara to the north, and Batu Maung to the southeast.


The 'old town' of Bayan Lepas is situated at the southeastern tip of Penang Island.
Newer residential properties were built in Bayan Lepas following the opening of the Free Industrial Zone in the 1970s.

Bayan Lepas was believed to have been named after a wealthy Sumatran family who founded the town in the late 19th century.[4][5] Upon coming ashore, their pet parakeet escaped, hence the name Bayan Lepas, which meant 'escaped parakeet' in Malay.

The heart of Bayan Lepas, also known as the 'old town' by the locals, is located at the intersection of Jalan Bayan Lepas and Jalan Dato Ismail Hashim, to the west of the Penang International Airport.[6] As the town grew modestly in the early 20th century, amenities, such as a wet market and a police station, were built within the town centre by the British.

In 1935, the Bayan Lepas Airport was opened by the Straits Settlements authorities. It was the first civilian airport ever built within British Malaya. The airport was eventually expanded and upgraded into the Penang International Airport in 1979.[7]

The British also built a fortification at nearby Batu Maung to defend Penang Island and the RAF Butterworth Air Base on the mainland against amphibious invasion.[8] However, the fort was abandoned ahead of the advancing Imperial Japanese Army during World War II.

Up until the 1970s, Bayan Lepas was a relatively rural village, where rice farming was the main economic activity. As a result, the town was once known as the 'rice bowl' of Penang.[5]

In 1972, the then Chief Minister of Penang, Lim Chong Eu, opened the Bayan Lepas Free Industrial Zone to alleviate an economic crisis and rising unemployment that plagued Penang at the time.[4][5][9] Pioneer tax status was granted to multinational firms seeking to establish factories and assembly plants in Bayan Lepas. Complemented by low-cost labour, the creation of the Bayan Lepas Free Industrial Zone was successful in reversing Penang's economic slump, while the industrial zone itself grew to become the 'Silicon Valley of the East'.[2][3][10]

The industrialisation of Bayan Lepas in the 1970s also resulted in the rapid development of the town in the following decades, as residential townships like Bayan Baru were built and expanded around Bayan Lepas. This has led to the urbanisation of the entire eastern coast of Penang Island, as residential developments emanating north from Bayan Lepas merged with the suburbs of George Town, such as Gelugor. Further development was spurred on by the completion of the Penang Bridge and the Second Penang Bridge.

Panoramic aerial view of Penang International Airport and the Second Penang Bridge


Ethnic composition of Bayan Lepas (2010)[11]
Ethnicities / Nationality Percentage
Other Bumiputeras

The mukim of Bayan Lepas includes not only the town of Bayan Lepas itself, it also encompasses the surrounding neighbourhoods such as Batu Maung, Bayan Baru and Sungai Ara. According to the 2010 National Census conducted by Malaysia's Department of Statistics, the mukim of Bayan Lepas had a population of 122,654.[12] Thus, Bayan Lepas is the largest town within the Southwest Penang Island District, containing the majority of the district's population.

Ethnic Malays formed over 47% of Bayan Lepas's population, followed by the Chinese at 37% and the Indians at nearly 8%. Notably, foreigners comprised almost 7% of the population.



The manufacturing sector, particularly in the electronics and engineering sectors, has been the mainstay of Bayan Lepas's economy. Since its inception in the 1970s, the Bayan Lepas Free Industrial Zone has grown to become the 'Silicon Valley of the East'.[2][3][10] Motorola became one of the first multinational firms to set up a factory within the zone, followed by several other firms, such as Intel, AMD, Osram, Hewlett Packard, Bosch, Hitachi, Dell, Intel and Clarion.[13][14]

Due to the presence of multinational firms in Bayan Lepas, the town has received enormous amounts of foreign direct investment (FDI). As of 2015, Penang attracted nearly RM4.5 billion worth of foreign direct investment (FDI), the largest amount in Malaysia, with significant investments going to the manufacturing sector.[15][16] In addition, the Free Industrial Zone has helped propel the manufacturing sector to become one of the major contributors to Penang's economy, generating as much as 44.6% of Penang's total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2016.[17]

Service outsourcing[edit]

In recent years, the Penang state government has allocated investments towards the development of the Bayan Baru township into a Business Processing Outsourcing (BPO) hub. These investments include the construction of Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC)-status infrastructure, such as SUNTECH Tower and One Precinct.[18] A number of multinational firms, including Celestica, Keyence and Zurich Insurance, have already set up business outsourcing centres within the area as well.[19][20][21]


The adjacent neighbourhood of Batu Maung is home to an active fisheries industry. It contains a deepwater fishing port, as well as the headquarters of WorldFish Center, an international, non-profit fisheries research organisation, and the Fisheries Research Institute of Malaysia's Fisheries Development Authority.[22][23]



The Penang International Airport is one of the busiest airports in Malaysia, with frequent connections to major Asian cities.

The Penang International Airport in Bayan Lepas is one of the busiest airports in Malaysia and serves as the major airport within the northern region of Peninsular Malaysia. Completed in 1935 when Penang was part of the British crown colony of the Straits Settlements, it is also the oldest civilian airport in the nation.

The airport's proximity to the Bayan Lepas Free Industrial Zone allows for the easy transportation of goods to and from the factories in Bayan Lepas. Furthermore, it connects Penang and the surrounding region with several major regional cities, including Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Bangkok, Jakarta, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Taipei, Ho Chi Minh City and Doha.


The Second Penang Bridge, opened in 2014, is the longest bridge in Southeast Asia.

Bayan Lepas is conveniently connected to the Malay Peninsula via the Second Penang Bridge, which links Batu Maung on Penang Island with Batu Kawan in Seberang Perai. In addition, Bayan Lepas is connected to Penang's capital city, George Town, to the north via the Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway, and to Balik Pulau via Federal Route 6. Jalan Bayan Lepas, the main thoroughfare within the town, also forms part of the latter road.[5]

Rapid Penang bus routes 302, 308, 401 and 401E include stops within Bayan Lepas proper, while the Penang International Airport is served by routes 102, 306, 401, 401E and AT.[24][25][26][27][28][29][30] These routes link Bayan Lepas to various destinations on Penang Island, including George Town and its suburbs, as well as Balik Pulau and Teluk Kumbar. Aside from these routes, Rapid Penang operates an additional three cross-strait shuttle bus routes - BEST A, BEST B and BEST C - between the Bayan Lepas Free Industrial Zone and Seberang Perai on the mainland; the three routes mainly cater to industrial workers who reside on the mainland.[31][32][33][34]

In 2017, LinkBike, a public bicycle sharing service based in George Town, launched its southernmost station at Queensbay Mall. This, along with the Summerton station nearby, provides bikers with an alternative mode of transportation between Bayan Lepas and the capital city.[35][36]


There are 12 primary schools, five high schools and an international school within Bayan Lepas.

Primary schools

  • SRK Batu Maung[37]
  • SRK Bayan Baru[38]
  • SRK Bayan Lepas[39]
  • SRK Bayan Lepas 2[40]
  • SRK Mutiara Perdana[41]
  • SRK Permatang Damar Laut[42]
  • SRK Sungai Ara[43]
  • SRJK (C) Chong Cheng[44]
  • SRJK (C) Chung Shan[45]
  • SRJK (C) Wen Khai[46]
  • SRJK (T) Bayan Lepas[47]
  • SRJK (T) Sungai Ara[48]

High schools

International school

  • Straits International School[54]

In addition, the Penang Skills Development Centre (PSDC), an institute established by the Penang state government for tertiary-level industrial skills courses, is situated within the Bayan Lepas Free Industrial Zone.[55]

Health care[edit]

The 190-bed Pantai Hospital at Bayan Baru is the sole hospital within the vicinity of Bayan Lepas.[56] The private hospital, opened in 1997, is now managed under Parkway Pantai's group of hospitals and offers specialist treatments for a variety of medical conditions.[56][57]


SPICE Aquatic Centre

Completed in 2000, the SPICE Arena at Bayan Baru is one of the major sports venues in Penang, capable of hosting various indoor sports events such as squash, badminton and martial arts. It has also emerged as the preferred venue for meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) within the state. The SPICE Arena is also complemented in its role as a MICE venue by the GBI-certified SPICE Convention & Exhibition Centre, the world's first hybrid solar-powered convention centre.[58][59][60]

Adjacent to the SPICE Arena, the SPICE Aquatics Centre not only serves as a venue for national and international aquatic sports events, it also serves as a community swimming facility when not in use for tournaments.


Queensbay Mall, the largest shopping mall in Penang, is located close to Bayan Baru.

Queensbay Mall, the largest shopping mall by area in Penang, is located near Bayan Baru. With a gross built-up area of 2,500,000 sq ft (230,000 m2), the mall contains more than 400 shops, including international brands such as Borders, Gap and Harvey Norman, as well as a cinema and various other entertainment options.

Sunshine Square, with SPICE Arena visible in the background.

Smaller shopping centres and hypermarkets have also been built within Bayan Baru to cater for a relatively sizeable catchment area.

Tourist attractions[edit]

The Snake Temple in Bayan Lepas

The Snake Temple is said to be the only Chinese temple in the world to be inhabited by snakes. Built in the 1850s, it has attracted species of pit vipers, which are believed to be rendered harmless by the incense. The temple is also a focal point of the annual Chinese New Year celebrations, during which a flame-watching ceremony is held to predict the fortunes of the following 12 months.[65][66]

The Penang War Museum is located at Batu Maung near the southeastern tip of Penang Island. This former fort was converted into a museum in 2002 and features military installations, such as bunkers, tunnels and machine-gun emplacements, as built by the British Army in the 1930s.[8]


Residential neighbourhoods like Bayan Baru, pictured here, were built after the creation of the Free Industrial Zone.[67]

Within the vicinity of Bayan Lepas are the following residential townships and villages.

See also[edit]


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  4. ^ a b c d "From padi fields to industrial zone - Community | The Star Online". Retrieved 2018-02-04.
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  10. ^ a b "History of Industrial Development Strategies in Penang since Independence: A Study of the SMEs". Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.
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External links[edit]