Almost all the useable land on Pulau Jerejak near Penang Island was sold to a resort, majority owned by the federal government’s UDA Holdings Bhd. And Penang has incurred a RM19 million RM30 million loss on the deal.

The Tropical Island Resort, which manages Pulau Jerejak, is a 51:49 joint-venture between UDA and the Penang Development Corporation. How could PDC (and by extension, Penang) end up with only a minority share when the island is part of Penang? UDA, for its part, was delisted from the stock exchange in 2007 and is now a wholly owned subsidiary of the Finance Ministry’s Khazanah.

PDC has incurred investment expenditure and debt of RM19 million. Another RM11 million in land premium has not yet been paid to the Penang Land Administrator. Shockingly, even though the land premium has not yet been paid in full, the title deed was still issued by the previous administration, said Chief Minister Guan Eng. If that’s the case, the resort must settle what it owes to the PDC and the Penang state government, which in turn must seek legal advice to protect Penang’s interest.

(As a matter of interest, the island once housed a leper colony, which in the 1930s was overseen by an Australian-English couple. Opium was even provided by the local authorities to some of the inmates to ease their misery – and the biggest complaint among the lepers was about its poor quality. “Ta’da baik,” they would say. This at a time when there were stiff penalties for opium possession in the UK itself.)

As you can see from the photos, there’s a lot of potential for this lovely waterway to be a part of a scenic water transport route for Penang. After all, the city cats (catamarans) are an important means of transit for the folks in in Brisbane. Similarly, the river buses in Bangkok carry a large number of commuters. Imagine beating all those traffic jams in such a relaxing way.

Anyway, what happened to all those inquiries into land scams that were supposed to have been undertaken by the present state government? There is a lot more at stake than RM30 million.

What I would really like to know is – and this is something that no one wants to answer – how much have the previous and present Penang state governments received from developers in exchange for granting them lucrative land reclamation rights (with gross development value worth billions of ringgit) for the coastal areas stretching from Tanjong Tokong in the north-east, down the entire east coast past Jelutong and extending to Gertak Sanggul in the south-west? Has the state received only peanuts (in comparison with the GDV) in exchange for handing over reclamation rights? Could we have some accountability here?

From a Malaysian Insider report:

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng today called his predecessor, Tan Sri Koh Tsu Koon, irresponsible for blaming problems faced during the state BN’s recent camp at the Tropical Island Resort (TIR) at Pulau Jerejak on the new administration.

Pulau Jerejak is a 362-hectare island off the eastern coast of Penang, which once served as a penal and leper colony.

“He is not satisfied because there was no key to the boat and there was a snake in the storeroom,” Lim said in a media statement today, referring to the Gerakan president and state BN chief.

The DAP secretary-general said Koh should not blame PR because the jetty at Bayan Bay and Pulau Jerejak was managed by the resort company, which was granted the project by the previous BN administration.

TIR is a joint-venture partnership between Putrajaya-linked UDA Holdings and state-owned Penang Development Corporation (PDC) with shares split 51 per cent and 49 per cent respectively

Lim, who is also PDC chairman, said the project had caused the state agency to suffer a RM19 million loss which it cannot recoup.

He said almost all usable land on the former leper colony had been handed over to UDA during Koh’s 15-year tenure as chief minister.

Lim dared Koh to explain for the loss.

“Is Koh brave enough to explain the new RM19 million scandal in Pulau Jerejak?” the first-term CM challenged.

“Or is he going to wait until March?” he added, mocking Koh’s promise that there are surprises in store for the PR state government.

Lim had earlier this week dared Koh to disclose why the state government had to pay RM40 million over the Tang Hak Ju land scam and why the Seberang Perai Municipal Council (MPSP) suffered a RM230 million deficit for seven years.