THE state government has been taken to task for selling state land when it could have been leased out instead.
Penang Citizens Chant Group (Chant) advisor Yan Lee said the state government should introduce a 99-year lease.
“In England, Crown land is leased out to the people.
“Selling away is like selling the land of the rakyat,” he said.
He also questioned whether Penang was in debt that there was a need to sell the land.
“While the Chief Minister criticised others over their alleged operation mismanagement, please also be transparent here,” Yan Lee said.
He was commenting regarding the sales of state land by the state government.
Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng had reportedly said during the state assembly sitting in November that from 2008 to 2013, the state had approved land to individuals and government agencies.
He also stressed that there had been no disposal of any state land in large parcel that originally belonged to the state to the private sector.
The disposal only involved those in remote areas as well as residential areas for new village.
Under the Pakatan administration, Lim said the state sold 41.72ha of land with higher returns of RM1.1102bil compared with the previous Barisan administration which sold 1,481.5ha of land for RM1.0586bil.
Lim said the state sold 0.45ha in Jalan Zainal Abidin (Taman Manggis) for RM10.2mil and 41.3ha in Bayan Mutiara for RM1.1bil.
However, he did not disclose figures on the state’s current land bank.
Multinational company legal director Eugene Cheong, 48, said as a Penangite he would like to see a sustainable growth for the state.
“The government should also ensure that the land is put to good use and can benefit the rakyat,” he said.
Pottery maker Nio Swee Lee, 33, said the government should think about the long term for any land transaction.
“Selling state land for short-term gain is not fair for the future generation because it could end up being a concrete jungle or possibly owned by foreign investors,” she said.
State MCA deputy chairman Tan Teik Cheng said the state government should come up with a master plan to generate income and not by selling state land.
He said selling of state land, regardless of its size, was a serious matter.
“State land belongs to the people and they must be kept for future state development.
“The state lacks a good planning on this.
“The practice of giving the rights to reclaim land to developer is also an unhealthy practice,” he said.
Pinpointing on the sale of land in Batu Kawan, Pulau Betong assemblyman Muhamad Farid Saad said it was alarming and did not suit the purpose of its initial acquisition.
“In 1999, the Barisan administration acquired about 2,023ha of land in Batu Kawan at RM15,000 per 0.4ha for public housing.
“It’s inappropriate for them to sell it now to various developers.”
He also said when the state sold a big parcel of land to one company, the company would then resell it to another company.
“It’s wrong to do that,” he said.
Muhamad Farid also accused the state of practising double standard for not approving planning permission for housing projects proposed by JKP Sdn Bhd and UDA, but on the other hand, sold off land to private sectors for mixed developments.
“The state should keep the land for affordable housing,” he said.
It was reported that in October in 2013, PE Land signed a purchase and development agreement with Penang Development Corp (PDC) for 16ha of land in Batu Kawan for RM65.34mil.
In March this year, Paramount Corp Bhd also acquired 30.7 acres freehold land there from PDC for RM65.66mil for a mixed development which would include a university college campus.
In September, Aspen Vision City also acquired 99ha of land there for RM484mil.