GEORGE TOWN: Penang chief minister Chow Kon Yeow has defended the sale of a parcel of state-owned land in Batu Kawan to a private company, which was later transferred to a developer.
The parcel of land in Byram was originally owned by the Penang Development Corporation (PDC) but was sold to UMECH Construction Sdn Bhd (UMECH).
In a statement, Chow said PDC initially wanted to enter into a joint venture to develop an industrial park but no company voiced interest in the project.
He said UMECH later expressed interest in developing the land when the idea was floated by a Penang delegation at the 2020 Dubai Expo.
Chow also said getting investors for the project was a challenge as the land was next to the Pulau Burung landfill.
“At Dubai, UMECH expressed their interest to invest and had held discussions with a funder. As a result of the discussions, the company managed to convince PDC that it would be financially supported by a funder from Dubai,” he said.
The land was subsequently sold to UMECH.
However, the Penang Chinese Chambers of Commerce has since alleged that a property developer has taken control of UMECH and is now offering to lease out parcels of the land at high rates.
Responding to the allegation, Chow said cash payments from UMECH to PDC were determined based on current land prices in the area, considering it was undeveloped. He said UMECH was expected to invest about RM500 million in major infrastructures.
According to him, payment schedules were established to ensure profit for PDC, and to monitor UMECH’s performance.
He added that direct negotiation land sales were common, citing Aspen Group’s acquisition of a 245-acre plot from the state, and Paramount Property Sdn Bhd’s purchase of land for the construction of a university.
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