Penang CM says PDC Board to decide on land sale deal

GEORGE TOWN: Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow has "downplayed" the need to suspend the controversial sale of a Penang Development Corporation (PDC)-owned land in Byram, in the Seberang Prai Selatan district, to UMECH Construction Sdn Bhd (UMECH).

Asked on the need to do so, Chow said "I have answered. I did not mention anything about suspension".

"We (state executive councillors) took note of PDC's explanation to us on the matter. And we surrender it to the PDC Board to make a decision," he said.

Chow said PDC was ordered to brief the state exco about the land sale, which it did.

Yesterday, former Deputy Chief Minister II Dr P. Ramasamy had asked Chow to suspend the controversial sale of PDC-owned land in Byram UMECH.

He said the numerous issues arising were reasons enough for Chow to suspend the land sale and conduct a probe.

Among the issues were the choice of UMECH, the land price and such.

He said even though PDC negotiated with UMECH Construction, the said land was ultimately sold to UMECH Land. He also said that a few days before the sales agreement, 70 per cent of UMECH Land shares were acquired by Sunway Bhd.

All these issues were never in the initial discussion and the Penang government and PDC knew nothing about it, he added.

Elaborating, Chow, who is PDC chairman, said the state exco took note of the explanation from PDC regarding the project.

"The board will make a decision after discussing the issues regarding the project in the meeting," he added.

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.

Earlier today, Penang Parti Rakyat Malaysia vice-chairman Ravinder Singh has called on the MACC to investigate the land sale deal.

"For whose benefit was this 'direct negotiation' deal done?" he said.

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