Report reveals BN exco’s errors in land deal

Susan Loone | May 10, 11

The Penang government’s probe into a controversial land deal has revealed irregularities committed by the previous state government executive council, which cost Penangites RM40 million in legal suits and compensation payment.

In a White Paper tabled in the state legislative assembly today, the select committee behind the probe, headed by Deputy Chief Minister II P Ramasamy, revealed that the previous state exco did not obtain the necessary land approvals from five related government departments.

Despite not obtaining the approvals, the BN exco allowed the application for a 4.2-hectare plot of land by businessman Tan Hak Ju.

“(Approval by the state exco) without proper documentation is a very irresponsible act,” Ramasamy said when tabling the White Paper.

He said the previous state exco had also erred in not compensating Tan with RM1.8 million and an appropriate plot of land as replacement.

“This shows a lack of responsibility as the civil suit could be avoided if these alternatives were considered and given.” he added.

Ramasamy said that failure of the BN government to invite the original owners, two associations that had proof favourable to the state and helpful in the case against Tan, created a lot of doubts about the exco.

“The refusal of former BN state exco to cooperate in the current investigations is confusing as well,” he admitted.

Overlapping claims to quarry land

On Sept 21, 2007, the High Court in Penang ordered the state government to pay RM29.4 million as compensation to Tan for not properly processing his application for a plot of land in Seberang Perai.

Tan filed a civil suit after the state government cancelled his temporary licence for the plot of land on which quarrying had earlier been approved.

The licence was cancelled because of overlapping ownership, as another person possessed a leasehold grant for the same plot.

Two earlier investigations were launched by the BN government, in 2004 and 2006 respectively.

In 2008, the Pakatan Rakyat government launched its own investigation, carried out by six exco members – Ramasamy (DAP-Batu Kawan), Abdul Malik Abul Kassim (PKR-Batu Maung), Phee Boon Poh (DAP-Sungai Puyu), Wong Hon Wai (DAP-Air Itam) and Law Choo Kiang (PKR-Bukit Tambun).

Former Penang exco and state Gerakan chief Dr Teng Hock Nan (right) questioned the relevance of tabling the White Paper in the assembly, but Ramasamy brushed it off, saying Teng never took a pro-active stand to resolve the matter.

He also said the Pakatan government had to take further action to gather all related evidence to assist the civil case currently pending in court, in order to fight to reduce the cost of the suit to save the money of Penangites.

This proposal was agreed to by the state legislative assembly, including Umno assemblypersons, whose main concern was that the White Paper should refrain from referring to the case as scandalous before a proper investigation was completed.

Ramasamy also said the probe revealed inconsistencies at various levels and that the state government planned to obtain the cooperation of the relevant sectors to lodge a police report and urge the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate the matter further.

  1. #1 by Bigjoe on Wednesday, 11 May 2011 - 9:39 am

    Isn’t there some sort of breach of fiduciary law with office holders? Can’t the Exco be charged by the state AG?

  2. #2 by k1980 on Wednesday, 11 May 2011 - 11:10 am

    To get back the RM29.4 million, just deduct the salaries and pensions of the 11 Bn opposition aduns, plus that of senator Ah Koon.

  3. #3 by boh-liao on Wednesday, 11 May 2011 - 12:00 pm

    WHO is dis Tan Hak Ju?

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