The Penang government has set up a high-powered committee to investigate the sale of 4,000 acres by the previous BN state government.
The state executive council decided in its last Friday’s meeting that the senior executive councillor in charge of local government and traffic management portfolios, Chow Kon Yeow, will head the committee.
All government departments, especially the Land Office, the two local municipalities – MPPP and MPSP, and Penang Development Corporation (PDC) – have been directed to give full co-operation to Chow.
Chow’s panel will probe some 4,000 acres of state land and identify even more land that were sold cheaply without open tenders and some that were even given for free by the previous BN government.
Among them were:
- In the Tanjung Tokong reclamation, under agreements dated 1990 snd 1999, the developer was given the right to reclaim and develop 980 acres of land off Tanjung Tokong at the price of RM1 per sq ft.
- Some 750 acres of land in Batu Kawan were sold in 2004 at between RM3.05 and RM4 per sq ft.
- For the Jelutong Expressway, under agreements dated 1997, 2002 and 2003, the developer was given the right to reclaim 325 acres of land in exchange for constructing the Jelutong Expressway at an estimated cost of RM300 million and cash payment of RM25.4 million. In other words, the total cost is RM325.4 million for 325 acres or the cost of reclaimed land at Jelutong Expressway is RM 1 million per acre or over RM 20 per sq ft. What’s more, the developer can pay RM25.4 million over 10 years from 2005 up to 2015.
- Some 80 acres of prime land in Pulau Jerejak were sold to Urban Development Authority (UDA) without open tender on Jan 15, 2001 for a leased period of 60 years at only RM3.72 per sq ft.
- A total of 1,600 acres of reclaimed land off Butterworth were given to Rayston for free. Rayston only had to pay RM50 million in reclamation cost and build a highway which it is paying through toll collections.
- Some 18.7 acres land in Midlands Court and over four acres in Prangin Mall were sold by tender but not to the highest bidder. Instead for both sites, the second highest bidder was selected.
- Some 500 acres of reclaimed land were awarded without open tender for the Penang Outer Ring Road (PORR) project.
In his blog posting, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the previous cheap land sales surfaced when now the state opposition BN highlighted the sales of a 1.1-acre plot of Taman Manggs land.
Lim, the DAP secretary general, claimed the land was sold for a private hospital project to promote medical tourism.
He said BN and Gerakan had lost all honour and credibility when BN state chairman and Gerakan secretary-general Teng Chang Yeow failed to prove his claims that Lim, four exco members, and Lim’s political secretary Ng Wei Aik had personal interest in the project.
“Why BN never announced until now that the 1.1 acre piece was reserved for public housing in 2003?
“Why the so-called public housing project was also not marked in the layout plans?” asked Lim, also the Air Putih assemblyman and Bagan MP.
He criticised BN of running out of political capital when it resorted to not only attacking his family members but also his landlady.
He said anyone can bid and be awarded Taman Manggis land by open tender if one can pay the highest price, including his landlady or BN cronies.
“Why drag my landlady in when she or her company did not even bid for the land?” asked Lim.
He chided former chief minister Koh Tsu Koon and Teng, a former exco in Koh’s government, of being dishonest to say that they don’t have government documents when BN can produce documents of Taman Manggis.
He asked why BN did not fulfil its promise to build two 17-storey blocks of low-cost flats on the present 1st Avenue and Traders Hotel sites if it was sincere on building low-cost housing.
“Selling state land cheaply caused financial losses to the people of Penang. This was among main reasons why Gerakan lost all its seats and BN was rejected in the 2008 general election,” said Lim.