Byram land deal followed procedure, Penang state assembly told

GEORGE TOWN: The controversial sale of land in Byram to UMECH Land Sdn Bhd was done in accordance with established Penang Development Corporation (PDC) practices, the state assembly was told.

Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said Monday (Nov 20) there were no weaknesses or mistakes made in the course of the deal.

"The sale was conducted (through) direct negotiations following promotional efforts by PDC at the Dubai Expo 2020 from Jan 16 to 23 last year.

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"UMECH showed genuine interest in conducting business in Penang and was the sole company expressing such interest at the expo.

"Prior to the expo, materials and promotions (for) the upcoming projects had... received approval from the state government and PDC Board," he said in reply to a question from Lee Khai Loon (PH-Machang Bubok).

Chow said the selection of the company was done in a lengthy and transparent process based on established criteria.

However, he added, the issue of changes in shares by UMECH Land occurring before the agreement signing was done without prior notification to PDC.

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He said to prevent such issues from recurring, PDC promptly amended all offer letters to incorporate clauses on changes in company shares before signing the agreement.

At a press conference on Oct 3, the Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce (PCCC) raised questions about the selling price of the 226.2ha plot of land near the former Byram estate.

The PCCC alleged that the current market price of the industrial land was RM80 per sq ft and questioned the sale price and also the four-year payment term.

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PCCC president Datuk Seri Hong Team Wah also asked why PDC sold the land to a private company without an open tender.

In defending the sale, Chow said it was done following due diligence and the price was based on existing conditions.

Subsequently, the state government terminated the joint venture agreement between its investment agency PDC and UMECH.

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