Perda sues former head and board members over 2 land deals

Perda chairman Haniff Khatri Abdulla says they are seeking possession of the land sold off or compensation for the losses incurred.

BUTTERWORTH: The Penang Regional Development Authority (Perda) has sued its former chairman, Shabudin Yahaya, former board members and those who purchased land in two cases where the properties were allegedly sold at a cheaper price.

Perda chairman Haniff Khatri Abdulla said the agency had filed two suits at the High Court in George Town seeking possession of the sold land or compensation for the losses incurred.

The two pieces of land in question were in Kg Tok Keramat, Nibong Tebal, covering 9.36 acres (3.8ha) worth RM17.7 million, and in Sungai Baong, Jawi, covering 5.8 acres worth RM1.9 million.

He said the two suits were filed on Feb 13 and Feb 14 through e-filing at the High Court through a private solicitor.

Haniff said the cases were filed for fraud, misuse of power and “excess negligence”.

Shabudin, who is also Tasek Gelugor MP, said the Kg Tok Keramat land was sold off at a cheaper price of RM1.2 million as it was close to a river and prone to soil erosion.

Haniff said besides the two cases, there were 11 other cases of mismanagement, mostly involving Perda Ventures Incorporated Sdn Bhd (PVI), the property management arm of Perda.

One of these cases involved PVI’s purchase of a 45.46-acre land at Simpang Tiga Tai Thong, Tasek Gelugor, Butterworth, on April 29, 2015, at the cost of RM36.7 million. Haniff claimed officials had not bothered to register the land in PVI’s name after buying it.

Another case involved the purchase of 30.3 acres of land at Pantai Teluk Bayu, Sungai Batu, Teluk Kumbar, on Penang Island. Haniff said PVI had entered into an agreement with a third party in 2007 and 2012 on the Teluk Kumbar land but no work was carried out.

Perda, taking these incidents as gross dereliction of duties and suspected mismanagement, has suspended PVI’s board of directors. Currently, an interim board headed by Haniff is overseeing the company’s operations.

He said PVI will continue to operate as usual and the suspension would only affect its top management.

All the authorisation letters given by the former Perda chairman to PVI will be revoked with immediate effect, especially for orders on undeveloped land.

If the said land is partially developed, then it would be allowed to continue. However, Perda will ensure it benefited in the long run.

Haniff said it would need more time to give the details about the other 11 cases as they date back more than five years.

He said his predecessors had turned Perda into a real estate-focused agency when its core role was to help develop Penang.