By Clara Chooi
The Malaysian Insider
May 29, 2012
KUALA LUMPUR, May 29 — Lim Guan Eng revealed today that the Penang Municipal Council (MPPP) had issued 259 stop-work orders on housing developments since 2008, claiming this proves that Pakatan Rakyat (PR) is stricter with developers than Barisan Nasional (BN).
The Penang chief minister pointed out that the number of orders issued by the council was a whopping seven times more than the 38 issued by the previous BN state administration from 2004 to 2007.
The Seberang Perai Municipal Council (MPSP) had issued 11 stop-work orders under PR’s rule from March 2008 until May 2012, whereas not one was issued under BN from 2003 to 2008.
“Facts have disproved BN’s claims that the Penang PR state government is the darling of developers at the expense of the public, especially those who need public housing,” Lim said.
“If given a choice, some developers would prefer the BN government which rarely issued stop-work orders, especially in MPSP where not a single stop-work order was issued.
“The huge increase in the number of stop-work orders issued proves that the PR Penang state government is more stringent in upholding the rule of law, demanding strict compliance with technical requirements and more unforgiving than BN,” he added.
However, Lim stressed that despite PR’s stringent rule, the administration remains business-friendly, provided that all investors and businessmen comply by the rules.
He said there was “no point” for developers to try and wriggle their way out of sticking to requirements by claiming to have a close relationship with PR administrators as there is “no culture of corruption in Penang”.
“Rules are more important than any ‘friendship’ with state leaders,” he said.
Lim also refuted BN’s claims that property prices in Penang have soared because the state government had increased land premiums.
He pointed out that the Penang Land Office had maintained land conversion rates at the same rates as the previous BN government.
“Property prices are determined by market forces of supply and demand and public confidence in the state government.
“No governments in the world, including China and US, can force the property market to rise or fall in value,” he said.
Instead, Lim said the rise in property prices was due to rising public confidence in Penang’s “CAT” (competency, accountability and transparency) administration.
He said that to ensure sufficient affordable housing, the state government has allocated a minimum of RM500 million, which he said was the largest amount allocated by any state government in Malaysia.
The first phase of the programme, he said, would see 12,000 units built in Batu Kawan, Seberang Perai Selatan, while Phase 2 would see the 6,000 units built in the state’s remaining four districts.
Apart from this, said Lim, the private sector is also expected to contribute some 20,000 units of affordable housing.
“There is an element of double standards from BN which does not highlight that a bungalow unit in Johor Iskandar costs RM 3 million and is bought by foreigners, including Singaporeans.
“Unlike in Johor, Penang has boldly taken the lead by imposing a limit on all property purchases by foreigners in Penang to above RM1 million and landed properties in Penang island to above RM2 million beginning on July 1, 2012,” he said.