GEORGE TOWN: The leasing of a 3ha prime piece of state land via direct negotiation brings the best “value for money”, says Lim Guan Eng.
In defending the deal amid public backlash, the Chief Minister said the sale of the plot would bring in RM2bil in foreign direct investments (FDI) for a “medical city”.
“Building affordable housing on that land doesn’t make sense.
“Isn’t having a private hospital with 1,000 beds and creating 2,000 jobs good for the state?” Lim said in a press conference yesterday.
Last December, the state government leased the plot of prime land to Island Hospital for 99 years, but no announcement was made.
Early this month, local NGO Citizens Awareness Chant Group adviser Yan Lee brought the deal out in the open.
Lim said the state government had sold RM35bil in land, including for projects under the Penang Transport Master Plan, through open tender.
“This is merely RM156mil and as FDI, direct negotiation was the best way,” he said.
Lim also said the deal was kept under wraps because the state government was bound by a non-disclosure agreement.
It is learnt the company acquiring the land will build a large private hospital for medical tourism.
State Housing Committee chairman Jagdeep Singh Deo stressed that there were enough affordable housing units, priced between RM42,000 and RM300,000.
On Wednesday, Penang Gerakan acting Youth chief Jason Loo pointed out that there was no open tender and a lack of public consultation on the deal.
He said using the prime land to build low-cost housing could be more beneficial to the people.
Many low-cost housing units in Penang are in newly-opened and far-off places on the mainland.
Yesterday, Loo went to Komtar and tried in vain to get details on the lease via the state’s Freedom of Information (FOI) Enactment.
“This is the 20th time I have tried to get information through FOI on various issues. I have never succeeded,” he claimed.