Penang on ‘jumbo land sale’ spree for past 9 years, says BN

Penang BN chairman Teng Chang Yeow (third from left) holds up a chart that shows land sold by the Penang government in the last 9 years.

GEORGE TOWN: The argument over which Penang government sold more land and who did it for more money continued today with a former exco claiming the current government had been on a land sale spree.

Former exco and Penang Barisan Nasional chairman Teng Chang Yeow said new research showed the present Pakatan-led government had sold 5,446.8 acres (2,204ha) of state land over the past nine years.

He said comparatively speaking, in BN’s 40 years in power, the state government only sold 2,685 acres (1,086ha) of land.

“This comes to an average of 51 acres sold a month or an average of 1.7 acres sold per day.

“With 1.7 acres of land, you can build 204 units of low-medium-cost homes (based on current density of 120 units per acre) costing RM72,500 each.

“We are producing figures gathered from media reports and official records.

“Mark Twain said figures don’t lie but liars figure. Looking at the figures, it has been a jumbo land sale for the past nine years,” Teng told reporters here today.

The current Penang government had claimed it had sold 106.1 acres of state land, worth RM1.11 billion, since taking power in 2008.

It said the numbers were small compared with 3,661 acres of land sold from the “early 1990s to 2008”, worth RM1.05 billion.

Teng said the “cheap land sale” label by the current government on the previous BN administration was “grossly misleading” as the economic and land price situations were different.

He said figures for BN’s era in the 1990s must take into account the then land price, cost of living and general prices of items back then.

“A cup of kopi O in 1990 cost 60 sen but today it is priced at RM1.20. One can’t argue that the coffee shop owner should have charged RM1.20 per cup in the 1990s to maximise profits.

“But the true fact of life is that the price of 60 sen at that time reflected the price of materials and goods at that period. Had the coffee shop owner charged RM1.20 per cup then, his business would have long collapsed.”

The mudslinging between the previous and current governments is nothing new, with the current government saying the state’s had made more money from land sales, while the previous government said it could have saved more state land for housing projects.