GEORGE TOWN: The Penang Malay Congress has challenged Umno to take legal steps for a judicial review of a sales and purchase agreement inked between the Pakatan Rakyat-led state government and a developer.
The congress said a legal application should be filed by Umno against the controversial Bayan
Mutiara land reclaimation deal, which was reportedly worth over RM1billion, one of the largest land transaction deals in history here.
Congress president Rahmad Isahak said there have been many claims and counter-claims made over the issue between Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and Penang Umno, the main opposition front here.
Even the developer was forced to intervene by issuing its own version of the sales episode but lingering doubts continue to prevail in the minds of the neutrals and NGOs as well as social activists here, Rahmad claimed.
"The allegations were heavily carried by the mainstream and alternative media with one particular blog site devoting its entire cyberspace page to it. The claims have made the issue even more confusing," he said.
The public are confused, particularly the fence-sitters who have yet to throw support for either Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat in the state, said Rahmad.
Essentially, it was reported that the Bayan Mutiara deal was sold to a developer under the open-tender principle with the state government pocketing over RM1 billion for it.
It was reported that proceeds of the sale would help the state to fund the construction of affordable housing units in Batu Kawan with a Singaporen government-linked firm appointed as a consultant for it.
To this, Rahmad said the confusion factor was that Umno continues to insist that the deal was made through negotiated tender, while Lim continues to deny various allegations levelled against the state.
Adding complication and confusion is that Lim and Umno are seemed to be twisting, or avoiding the facts to the issue, Rahmad said.
The real issue
To clear the air, the issue should be addressed within the judiciary system where the entire transaction could be discussed in the open-court.
Bayan Mutiara should not just be about the technicalities, as it is for certain that the developer, a private sector-driven entity, invested in this parcel of land because it sees huge returns from it,
while the state hopes to use the profits from the sales to venture into medium-cost housing projects, he pointed out.
"On paper, the state and the developer seemed to have benefited from it, but it remains to be seen how the affordable housing applicants benefits," Rahmad said.
The pertinent issue is whether the developer would construct the required 30% affordable units at the Bayan Mutiara site, or transfer it to the mainland where the overall costs is cheaper, he said.
Rahmad said islanders deserve a chance to locate affordable housing on the island as they have an attached affinity to.
"Telling poor islanders to shift over to the mainland is akin to evicting them from their home town. This is how strong the affinity islanders have about Penang island," Rahmad said.
Housing is a contentious point in Penang, particularly on the island, as properties have continued to appreciate beyond the reach of many middle to low income groups here.
This has somewhat angered certain sections of the inhabitants here who do not want Penang to simply rival Hong Kong and Singapore, which boast of one of the most expensive property prices in the region.
Rahmad said high property prices eat into the living costs and also sparks a growing social class divide between the rich and poor.Read More @ Source
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