Penang CM accused of making misleading statement on PDC land sale to UMECH

GEORGE TOWN: Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow has been accused of making misleading statement over the sale of a Penang Development Corporation (PDC)-owned land in Byram, in the Seberang Prai Selatan district, to UMECH Construction Sdn Bhd (UMECH).

In a joint statement issued by special investment advisor to the Chief Minister Datuk Seri Lee Kah Choon and former deputy chief minister II Dr P. Ramasamy, they claimed a statement Chow had made was misleading, unfair and had caused harm to their professional reputation.

Chow, in defending the sale of the land to UMECH last week, had said that the selection of UMECH was done according to the due diligence procedure.

He had said that a small committee, with the participation from the then Deputy Chief Minister I, Ramasamy, state Trade, Industry and Entrepreneur Development Committee chairman Datuk Abdul Halim Hussain and Lee was set up to study UMECH's proposal, and that the proposal for the collaboration with UMECH was brought for the approval of the PDC board on Feb 9, this year.

He had also said that the direct negotiation project was one of the methods to get the best offer.

Responding, Ramasamy and Lee said the said meeting on Nov 28, last year was not a "due diligence" meeting to evaluate whether UMECH was suitable to be awarded the contract.

They said neither was there any terms of reference for the so-called small committee.

"In fact, it was a meeting for UMECH to provide further details about their proposed development.

"The said meeting decided that UMECH was to carry out a market survey, to study the composition of land usage, proof of UMECH's financial sustainability to be evaluated and other related matters," they said.

They also claimed that the meeting, chaired by Chow, also directed the PDC management to re-table to the PDC board for further deliberation after all the above information had been obtained.

Chow has come under fire over the sale of the land after the Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce (PCCC) raised questions on the awarding of the project through direct negotiations and why local companies were not given the opportunity in the project.

There were also questions raised that the land could have been transferred to a developer.

Since then, Penang Gerakan and Penang Muda have urged Chow to come clear on the matter.

The New Straits Times has reached out to Chow to respond to Ramasamy's and Lee's claims and is still awaiting his response.

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