The Motley Fool

The Malaysia Dispatch: From One Island To Another

I have arrived in my hometown, Penang island. I can tell.

As I exit the plane, I can feel the gust of hot air on my face. Yes, I may have flown from one island to another, but the weather in my hometown feels a little warmer compared to Singapore.

The Penang airport is a lot smaller compared to Changi Airport, handling less than a tenth of what the Singapore airport does. But location matters more than size today.

And that’s because I have arrived home.


My Undivided Attention

I have spent half of my life in Penang and the other half in Singapore.

The first difference you’ll notice in Penang is the language. My hometown’s main dialect is a local variant of Hokkien which is different from Singapore’s own Hokkien. But you can quickly catch on to the local lingo. There are enough similar words between both Hokkien versions to understand the local Penangite chatter.

Likewise, the language of capital and business does not differ too much, whether we are in Malaysia or Singapore.

We Are All Connected

If Abraham Maslow were alive today, he may well have listed “internet connection” as a basic human need.

As such, it shouldn’t surprise you that my first order of business was to get a data plan for my phone. In Singapore, we would turn to Singtel (SGX: Z74), M1 (SGX: B2F) and StarHub (SGX: CC3) for our mobile data needs. Malaysia has its own dominant trio in Maxis Berhad (KLSE: 6012.KL), DiGi.Com Bhd (KLSE: 6947.KL) and Celcom by Axiata Group Bhd (KLSE: 6888.KL).

Telcos on both sides of the causeway operate under the same business considerations.

Network infrastructure does not come cheap, whether you are in Singapore or Malaysia. As such, I expect telcos to be holding debt. A quick check in the financials of the three Malaysian telcos confirms my suspicions.

In case you are curious, DiGi has the most subscribers among the Malaysian trio. But if you are going for coverage and faster download speeds, Maxis is the clear winner. 

But enough talk about telcos.

Like any other Penangite I know, I came back for the food.

I am not going for the usual tourist fare, of course.

Malaysia is a multi-cultural country and there are plenty of great choices whether it is a sit-down cafe or a street hawker by the side of the road.

The photo on the top right shows an Indian mamak store that was adorned by lanterns to celebrate Chinese New Year. As I said, Malaysia is home to multiple cultures and this picture captures that spirit. Singapore’s northern neighbour an interesting mix that is in some ways similar to the Lion City and in other ways, unique.

… check back tomorrow for my next Malaysia dispatch where I talk about the unique (yet familiar) stocks that you can find in the Bursa Malaysia.

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Motley Fool contributor Esjay contributed to this article. Esjay owns shares of Singtel.

The information provided is for general information purposes only and is not intended to be personalized investment or financial advice. The Motley Fool Singapore writer Chin Hui Leong does not own shares in the companies mentioned.