|Athi Veeranggan | May 12, 08 12:38pm
|The controversial mega Penang Global City Centre project saga continues with the present Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng requesting his predecessor Koh Tsu Koon to guide him “on how to re-zone the project site to its original zoning”.
“After all, he was the one who had reclassified the site zone previously.
“Therefore he should guide us and explain explicitly on how to reclassify it again,” said Lim, when officiating Bukit Bendera MP Liew Chin Tong’s service centre in Pulau Tikus yesterday.
Originally earmarked as a recreational and open space zone, the Penang Turf Club (PTC) site in Jalan Batu Gantong, George Town was re-gazetted under the Penang Structural Plan 2020 on June 28, 2007 as a new township zone for mixed commercial development for the PGCC project. The turf club is to be relocated to another site.
Under the Town and Country Planning Act 1976, the state planning committee, in which the Chief Minister would be the chairperson by legal requirement, re-gazetted the land as for commercial use in pursuant to the Structure Plan.
Due to this use of legislation, the proposed RM25 billion PGCC project-developer, Abad Naluri Sdn Bhd need not pay the premium estimated to be worth RM200 million to the state government for land conversion.
Abad Naluri bought the turf club plot, which has been classified as grade one land, for RM488 million.
Sensing that the state government had lost millions in land premiums due to the previous state government re-zoning, Lim now wants Koh to tell all to the public the reasons behind the sudden change in land status of the turf club plot.
Various unanswered questions
1. Why the land was re-zoned after the Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi had launched the mega project?
2. Was the PM misled by Koh’s administration on the land zone?
3. Why was Abad Naluri exempted from land premium?
4. Why did the state government position itself for a non-financial gain in the land conversion for a mammoth project?
“Koh owes a public explanation on all these questions,” said Lim.
Upon taking the hot seat of Penang chief minister, Lim has already revealed a billion-ringgit land scam under the previous administration that could hit the northern island state with a loud tremor.
On numerous occasions, he had requested Koh and former state executive councillor in charge of land portfolio, Abdul Rashid Abdullah to meet him and explain about the alleged land improprieties that had cost the state government billions of ringgit in land premium for conversion.
However, both have declined the requests.
While a report has been lodged to the Anti-Corruption Agency to investigate the matter, the state government had also set up a three-man team led by Deputy Chief Minister Mohammad Fairuz Khairuddin to probe the scam.
And now to add to that, the PGCC land conversion scam had surfaced now.
Turf club members unhappy
PTC members lodged several police reports last week alleging the previous state government had lost millions in revenue when it took upon itself to re-zone the turf club land as the site for a ‘mixed development’ for the PGCC project.
The PGCC, located in the heart of the Georgetown, has been billed as the country’s largest private sector development project. It is also the single-biggest component of the Northern Corridor Economic Region development plan, launched last August.
On Saturday, Koh’s aide and former state executive councillor Dr Teng Hock Nan, who was then the exco in-charge of local government, revealed that the previous state government and the Penang Island Municipal Council (MPPP) never approved the planning permission applied by Abad Naluri for PGCC project.
He said it was up to the present state government and MPPP to decide whether to reject or approve any development proposal.
He dispelled accusations that Koh has helped Abad Naluri save approximately RM200 million in premium fees for land conversion when the original recreation land was reclassified under ‘mixed development’.
Lim said that Teng statement had failed to clarify public curiosity on how and why the project site was re-zoned in the first place.
“It would be better for Koh, not Dr Teng, to answers our questions,” said Lim.
Abad Naluri is an associate company of Equine Capital Bhd controlled by businessman Patrick Lim, who is known to be a close friend of Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. Equine Capital holds 25 percent of Abad Naluri.
In recent weeks, a number of key shareholders have sold their stakes in Equine following news that the PGCC project would be shelved. The company was also hit by two resignations from its board of directors.
Category Archives: Sustainable Development
I was shocked when come to know that PGCC is not been approved by local government agencies. But The multi-billion ringgit Penang Global City Centre (PGCC) project was launched by PM last year.. I thought they already got the approval… But what is this?
According to Guan Eng in his interview to malaysiakini, “Not a single approval letter has been given to the developer by government authorities, whether the Penang Municipal Council or the land office.”
It means that penang residents has been given wrong information… i myself was thinking that, the project will be proceed… Launching is done, but no approval is obtain… What kind of system la?
On the other hand, i think Guan Eng statement that, “feedback from residents and relevant NGOs will be taken into consideration in deciding whether or not to approve the project”, will make penang residents happy…
MOst of the penangites is unhappy with the PGCC, but the protest is never been take in to consideration by previous state government…
If u ask me Why PGCC is not Good For Penang? I will question u back, why Penang need PGCC? Doesnt it against with Governments Development policy, SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT? or i will think that they didnt understand what is SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT? Dont waste the land la? Nowadays people wont think that, “wow! Penang have PGCC man… It is great! It is huge! It will improve residents live quality! and so on… People will think that this is a sort of wasting… Sort of losing the environment… Does huge buildings showing that we are developed?
News from malaysiakini:
The multi-billion ringgit Penang Global City Centre (PGCC) project cannot proceed because it has yet to be approved by local government agencies, despite having been announced with great fanfare last year.
Revealing this newly-minted Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said: “Not a single approval letter has been given to the developer by government authorities, whether the Penang Municipal Council or the land office.”
“Unfortunately when Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi launched the project (last year), the impression was that approval had been given. The correct information has not been given (to the public).”
In view of the situation, said Guan Eng, the developer cannot start any work at the site or sell the project.
“If they want to proceed, they will have to (comply with) the law,” he told a press conference today, adding that the state government will have to process a few papers submitted previously by the developer.
Guan Eng declined to say whether the project had been launched to impress voters and investors in the run-up to the general election, but described his discovery as a “surprising turn of events”.
“If you say Penangites have been misled, I also have been misled… The Penang Municipal Council has said it has never given any approval so I don’t think we can blame them for that. I would take it at face value,” he noted.
Guan Eng was clarifying his statement yesterday that the DAP-led state government would review the suitability of the entire PGCC project.
He said he had been briefed on the status of the project by the relevant authorities after a press conference yesterday.
“Since there is no approval, the issue of review does not arise,” he explained today.
The project has prompted strong protests from Penang residents who are concerned with the social and physical impact of the PGCC, which will comprise hotels, condominiums, commercial centres and a central park among other facilities.
Asked to comment, Guan Eng said feedback from residents and relevant NGOs will be taken into consideration in deciding whether or not to approve the project.
He said he has directed that copies of all correspondence or discussions concerning the project should be sent to him, so that he can monitor the negotiation process.
Bouquet from developer
At a cost of RM25 billion, PGCC has been billed as the country’s largest private-sector development project. It is also the single-biggest component of the Northern Corridor Economic Region development plan, launched last August.
The developer is Abad Naluri Sdn Bhd – an associate company of Equine Capital Bhd controlled by the premier’s ally, businessman Patrick Lim. Equine Capital holds 25 percent of Abad Naluri.
The developer had sent Guan Eng a bouquet yesterday, perked up with small DAP flags. It was the first to arrive at the CM’s office to congratulate Guan Eng on his “historic win” in the elections, according to the card attached.
Guan Eng expressed surprise over the gesture: “We can’t stop people from sending us bouquets.
“Before the elections, when our representatives want to meet them for dialogues, it was very hard. This is definitely a departure from their previous attitude.”
Questions have long been raised as to how Patrick (photo, left) and Equine Capital – which is not in the big league of developers – can undertake the project, leading many to point to his close ties with the First Family as a key factor.
The businessman – dubbed ‘Patrick Badawi’ by ex-premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad due to his influence over top politicians – has denied the claim.
Penang-born Patrick, 42, also brushed off suggestions that the PGCC project is a ‘sweetheart deal’ for him and that the premier’s son, Kamaludin, is a shareholder in Abad Naluri.
Patrick claimed that Abad Naluri had obtained the land in Batu Kawan land and won the tender for the Penang Turf Club, the site of PGCC, even before Abdullah came into power in 2003.