Guan Eng: Don’t buy Jerejak land unless to build ships

Lim-Guan-Eng,-Jerejak-Island,-land-saleGEORGE TOWN: Lim Guan Eng has poured cold water on a property agent’s attempts to sell private land on Jerejak Island to prospective buyers, saying that no other development other than shipbuilding can take place there.

The Penang chief minister was referring to an “expression of sale by interest” advertisement by the agent which appeared in Chinese daily, Kwong Wah Yit Poh, last Thursday. The ad asked for buyers to submit their bids on a 10.7 hectare land on the east-central coast of Jerejak.

The ad even states that the land can be used for “private, commercial and recreational development”.

“Commercial development? Don’t even dream. We will never approve anything on the land, unless you want to use it as a shipyard,” Lim told reporters in Komtar today.

“The land should remain purely for shipbuilding purposes only. There will be no change of use of land unless you change the government.

“No one has talked to us about this land. As for those who are planning to bid for the land, let me say that no one in the Penang government is aware of this land until the ad appeared.”

The advertisement, placed by WTW Real Estate Sdn Bhd, stated that the land for sale has been marked as “one of three remaining private lands” and the rest would be gazetted as a forest reserve.

The call for bids ends July 6 at 12pm.

Lim said the particular piece of land was held by a company under Boustead Holdings Berhad, which currently operated a shipyard there.

He said three plots of land was sold to them in 1973 and 1974 with a 99-year lease. The lots in question are expected to have their lease expired in 55 years.

“Malaysia has bought four warships from China, why don’t you build them at the shipyard, it would be beneficial for our local economy,” he said.

When asked if the Penang government could acquire the land, Lim said it was not possible as it would be too expensive to compensate the current landowners.

Lim also furnished documents given by the property agent, who was said to have tried to sell the particular plots of land to reporters, without revealing how he got his hands on it.

In the document, it was stated there was no zoning for the land but that it was designated for “industrial use” as per the land title.

Jerejak Island, on the east of Penang Island, and visible from the first bridge, is 359ha in size and sparsely populated.

It was used as a quarantine centre for all immigrants entering Malaya and was later used as a prison. The government shut down its use as a prison in the 1990s.

A resort was built on the west coast facing Penang Island in 2004. The resort closed down last May.

The shipyard on the east coast has been in existence from the 1970s until today.

Last year, Tropical Island Resort Sdn Bhd (TIR) announced that it had teamed up with a Penang-based property developer, Ideal Properties, to redevelop an existing resort and 32ha of land on the island.

The redevelopment plan comprises a bridge linking Jerejak to the main Penang island, 1,200 homes, a marina, hotels, a theme park, a 11.5km round-the-island cycling track and related infrastructure to promote tourism in the state.

TIR said the resort, which has been closed since May, had reportedly sustained “heavy losses” since it began operations in 2004.

The Penang government used to hold a 49% stake in TIR, via the Penang Development Corporation (PDC). The controlling stake is held by federal government agency, the Urban Development Authority.

PDC sold its shares to Q Islands Development Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of the Penang-based developer, Ideal Properties Group for RM156 million.