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Perda: Land for cheap homes

NIBONG TEBAL: A piece of land near here was sold below market price to a developer because the Penang Regional Development Authority (Perda) wanted affordable houses built there.

Perda chairman Datuk Shabudin Yahaya said the land was sold on the condition that the buyer must only build homes of RM42,000, RM72,000 and up to a maximum of RM200,000.

He said Perda sold the 3.461ha land in Transkrian near Parit Buntar for RM1.427mil because it was fraught with soil settlement problems, as it is by the banks of Sungai Kerian.

“The soil was so unstable that 107 homes built on it 30 years ago had to be torn down because of geological movements and the cost-benefit analysis showed a loss of about RM10mil,” he said, explaining why Perda sold the land.

“Instead of profiting from the sale, Perda succeeded in having low price houses built for the people,” said Shabudin, who is also Tasek Gelugor MP and responding to an allegation by Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng that Perda had sold the land at just 8.6% of its stamp duty valuation.

Shabudin told reporters at the Perda headquarters here that Lim had not explained the issues surrounding the land to the media.

The RM16.636mil stamp duty valuation of the land, he said, was based on surrounding land value which had no geological weaknesses.

On Lim’s invitation for him to have coffee in Komtar, Shabudin said he had “no time for coffee sessions”.

“I’d rather spend my time meeting the people and getting things done,” he said.

He urged Lim not to make public accusations when he could write to Perda officially.

He said the returns from the land sale were being used to buy another 4.85ha of land in the same district to build more affordable housing units.

“Perda is a not-for-profit agency under the Federal Government and meant to help the people by building low-cost houses, among other things,” he added.

Shabudin had brought up in Parliament last month that Lim had bought his bungalow last year for RM2.8mil when the stamp duty valuation was RM4.23mil.

In response, Lim said Perda should have taken the initiative itself to build low-cost houses on the land, instead of selling it to a private developer.

“They are getting financial assistance from the Federal Government to build public housing, why are they selling the land?” he asked after launching the website of the Penang Transport Master Plan.