GEORGE TOWN: A CHORUS of queries has grown among many quarters for the state government to explain the land sale involving 2.5ha at Peel Avenue.
The latest came from Penang MCA, which demanded that the state administration explain why there was no open tender for the land sold to a foreign investor.
Its organising secretary Dr Tan Chuan Hong said the state government was exploiting the people on the land deal as well as violating its “Competent, Accountable, Transparent” motto.
“The land price in Persiaran Gurney is RM1,500 per square foot and RM1,000 per square foot in Pulau Tikus but the state government sold the Peel Avenue’s land for only RM560 per square foot,” he said yesterday.
Last Thursday, the state government was put on the spot over the sale of the land for RM156 million to a private medical company, without calling for an open tender.
Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng had said there was no open tender for potential game-changer projects and that direct negotiations were the international norm.
Dr Tan said Lim’s explanation, that the land was bought by the investor without an open tender because it was a foreign direct investment in a high-value industry, did not make sense.
“Did Penang’s past development projects not involve foreign investments?
“Why did past foreign investments require an open tender?
“Why should this land be transferred to the Chief Minister Incorporated (CMI) before selling?”
Dr Tan said Lim had to provide more details on the deal as the people had the right to know the truth.
“Penang government has previously boasted of implementing a transparent open tender policy but in practice they are doing it differently.
“Moreover, it is being handled by CMI and this leads to suspicion of corruption.”
Dr Tan also said he was concerned with the possible demolition of pre-war buildings from the British colonial period and old trees on the land.
“We should preserve our heritage buildings instead of destroying it one by one,” he said.