Has the Penang govt blundered?


This whole business of converting leasehold land to freehold appears to have been done without considering the long-term implications.

I know the state government, faced with budgetary constraints, is hoping to raise funds from land conversion. But has it considered the impact on the future price of land in Penang, which could put it beyond the reach of the lower-income group, and the future needs of the state for public land to build vital infrastructure and amenities? There is a good reason for some land to be classified as leasehold in the first place – though leasehold property owners may disagree.

Now, the Queensbay project, for which the land conversion was done under the previous administration and defended by the present administration, is embroiled in controversy. Senior conveyancing lawyer Agatha Foo is quoted in theSun as pointing out a provision in the National Land Code which expressly prohibits the state from disposing “any part of the foreshore or sea-bed for a period exceeding 99 years”. Land commentator Prof Salleh Buang agrees: “The law says it very clearly. It is on record that you cannot make such land freehold.”

There’s another potential hot potato looming north of the island in a new property development scheme where the land is still leasehold. Look out for this in coming weeks.

This is a report on Queensbay on page 2 of theSun today:

Crucial clause overlooked

Guan Eng missed proviso when defending land conversion

Himanshu Bhatt

GEORGE TOWN (Oct 8, 2008) : Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng had defended the controversial conversion of land housing the Queensbay project, reportedly worth RM3 billion to freehold, at the Penang state assembly in July, but had overlooked a vital clause in the National Land Code (NLC) 1965.

It is learnt that Lim (who is currently away in the United Arab Emirates on an investment mission) had in a written reply reasoned that the NLC allowed the state to convert the land from leasehold to freehold.

He made the reply to a question from Batu Uban assemblyman S Raveentharan who asked how reclaimed coastal land had been made freehold in Batu Uban and Pantai Jerjak.

In his reply, however, Lim missed a crucial proviso in the NLC.

He reasoned that the freehold status was given as an effort to revive the project after it was left unfinished.

(The project had been stalled as the original developer Eternal Resources Sdn Bhd was affected by the economic crisis of the late 1990s.)

Lim referred to section 76(aa)(iii) of the NLC which says land could be converted “where the State Authority is satisfied that there are special circumstances which render it appropriate to do so”.

It is now learnt that Lim was sent a letter by a senior conveyance lawyer in Aug, expressing concerns about his plan to convert residential leasehold land, including areas that had been reclaimed from the sea, to freehold.

In her letter, lawyer Agatha Foo pointed out a proviso in section 76 of the NLC, which Lim had overlooked in his assembly reply.

Foo noted that the proviso expressly prohibits the state from disposing of “any part of the foreshore or sea-bed for a period exceeding ninety-nine years”.

The proviso had been inserted when section 76 was amended in Parliament in 1985.

“Consequentially, the said proviso would also prohibit the state from re-alienating or converting any part of the reclaimed foreshore or sea-bed to freehold land.”

“Any subsequent attempt by the state to re-alienate or convert any part of the foreshore or sea-bed to freehold, notwithstanding that the foreshore or sea-bed have now been reclaimed, would tantamount to a circumvention of the prohibition in section 76 and hence be ultra vires the NLC.

When contacted, land commentator Prof Salleh Buang, who is currently a visiting professor at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), said the NLC was very clear that the lease for state foreshore land cannot exceed 99 years.

“The law says it very clearly. It is on record that you cannot make such land freehold,” he said.

He stressed that the state should be careful to ensure public access remains in foreshore areas. “If you allow seafront to be freehold, what would happen to open public access to the area?” he asked.

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Malaysian niah..

gerakan is a bunch of cancer. my say is stop importing them back to penang since it has already been chemotherapized for good! any resumes that read – gerakan or former gerakan member should not be allowed to come to the new govt of penang because we have been so stagnant for the last 18 years, we now want to move forward fast .. irregardles if the rest of the country is governed by UMNO/BN. one day penang has to be like singapore … let the other states rot with corruptions, power abuse and scandals .. i dont really f******… Read more »


looes74, I like Dr Koh as a person but that doesn’t mean I like his politics. The only reason why I’m engaging him in debates is because he is the only one amongst the BN power elites I have access to. So I thought I’d do everything I can to convince him to bring his party out of BN whilst he is still prepared to listen to me. Isn’t this a good thing? Isn’t UMNO the big bad wolf of the country and every effort to isolate them is a step forward to a better Malaysia? I may engage them… Read more »


Correction. KTK did not hold Land portfolio


Dear Romerz, That’s precisely the motto of DAP from the very beginning. Malaysian Malaysia originates from Lee Kuan Yew when Singapore was under Malaysia. The success of Singapore now with reserves up or perhaps to 180 Billion USD is a clear indication. Malaysian Malaysia concept is the cornerstone of DAP policy all this while. Which I don’t understand why you seem to have reservation the present Penang state government. I am sorry for the oversight of lumping you together with the Gerakan folks. Well, sometimes I assume one as in this case you,knew the other as in this Dr Koh… Read more »

James Lee

Penangites do have high expectations of Ah Guan Eng and I am sure we all want him to succeed. Frankly, I do not think anyone here wants to give him a hard time — we all want a better Penang, right, and he is our hope?

But, it scares the hell out of me when I see (pardon my language) what they say “even his fart smells sweet”! With such sentiments among the rakyat, it is no wonder that people running the country get away with … in bodohland.


Carry on with WIFI and let time tell???

Hello, Ernest Cheah, don’t play play o! I have only one life and so do you!. Does anyone know what the Precautionary Principle means technically?!


“any part of the foreshore or sea-bed for a period exceeding ninety-nine years”

I dont get the issue here….. can that piece of land after reclamation still be considered foreshore or sea-bed?

Malaysian niah..

Laws are not caste in stone … laws are meant to support the progress of society with time. if it needs to be changed for the better than so be it … there is no need to comply to laws because they happen to be laws. laws need constant review.

one in particular is the ISA and perhaps this particular land laws too.




Many parts of the Island, even before humans set foot on it, were naturally claimed from the sea. The Bayan Lepas Free Industrial Zone to the west of the airport runway can be said to be reclaimed from the sea by nature as sea shells were dug up from those areas during factory construction. Think. If you build your house on what was once a beach, can I still claim public access to it as all beaches in this country are public access land and may not be privately owned ? So, after a portion of the sea is reclaimed,… Read more »

Simple Girl

Again – I am glad that you brought this up ANIL. I question your integrity and I question your wisdom. Stand by what you say – don’t gloat about the past glories of PGCC. Penangnites stood up against the project – I was one of them. I don’t even know who the players were. My representative came to my apartment and spoke his stand while the rest of the blocks from BN had too much time entertaining Pak Lah at Ayer Itam. YB Liew is still DAP and DAP stood for what the stood for – justice and fairness.


LGE should fire some lawyers for missing that.


Hey looes74,

Why am I lumped with Teng, Koh and Chia? I’m not a member of any political party. I support anyone who can strengthen Malaysian civil society and fight for a truly Malaysian Malaysia.

ernest cheah

anil. its good for you to write all this ” land issue WiFi thing” for the public. We say thank you. However as for the WiFi it should be allowed to continue as only time will tell, this goes to the CAP as well. The land issue : The chief minister is trying his very best to let the people of penang feel happy and proud to have him as CM at the same time cash flow for the state, that the way I see it. It is a very good point the lawyer Foo has found out in NLC,… Read more »


What overlooked??, It is very clearly stated under Section 76(aa)(iii) of the NLC which says land could be converted “where the State Authority is satisfied that there are special circumstances which render it appropriate to do so”. This clause I believe supercedes the other clauses. Anyway, please always remember that that Land is a State Matter.

Approving Authority

Fully agree with Penangnite.

On the streets of Penang, KTK is better known as Ko Tee Koon which in Hockkien means ” still sleeping ” which of course, he had been doing during his 18 years in office.

Anil’s chronicles on the recent floods speak for themselves, not to mention the pathetic state that is the Penang public transport system or the unexplained land scams.


Dalbinder Singh, you are a Gerakan member right?

I think you have ulterior motives and agenda in asking what the new government in Penang has done in the past 6 months.

Why don’t you ask your party and especially Koh Tsu Koon what they have done for Penang after 18 years (NOT months)???


There is nothing wrong being populist. Anyway, at times, even BN government is also populist too. As long as it benefits the people while jagaing the state coffer it’s ok. On seperate note, I don’t think Gerakan would be able to take over Penang in the next 5 years as long as LGE government does not screw up big time. Even if policies do go wrong some times, one has the guts and wills to review and amend, I think DAP would be in power for a long long time. Gerakan would have tough time because Gerakan got to get… Read more »


Like i said these politicians are all the same…


If there is a proviso preventing conversion, then state government must follow. They must not find themselves put in the same basket as the BN fellas. It is that simple …. The conversion process just needs a little adjustment – I still think it is a good idea.

PR = BN, what a dreadful thought, but I am sure they are not. They have been living under BN misrule for so long and LGE has been a victim of it in more ways than we have.

I have no doubt he will correct this when he gets back.


I have to agree if one got to take in considerations from all parties before even commenting and judging one’s performance. Especially the present state government of Penang, barely seven months old. Of course, it does not reflect well on Penang state’s government if such decision are made without considering all factors. However, I tend to believe LGE has covered all grounds when he pursue this agenda. Even if he might have not considered this particular oversight in NLC, I don’t think Penang State Government has blundered at all. It’s just an oversight. If Singapore Government can get away with… Read more »


Dear Eagle, so farny….LGE could **** on the table, running around the room cotton buds stuck up his pooper, the PKR zealots would still say he is doing the right thing. People, the law is law….doesnt matter. LGE is basing his decision on the land code, however he missed a provision, therefore he must go back and review his decision, and come with a new one base on the new provision. THAT IS THE CORRECT THING TO DO. you want fairness, that is what fairness is….not scream overbearing zealous comments at anyone who questions his decision. He is human too,… Read more »

Dalbinder Singh Gill

haha… oppurtunity cost… nonsense la .. i m not gonna get married and no more long term sustainability and future for my kids d … haha

Dalbinder Singh Gill

Well Anil, BN was also not too good but the opposition controlled state governments now are just making the people happy regardless of impact or looking at long term sustainability. They are doing all they can just to make the people happy so that they can escape a tsunami is the next elections. One fine day when Penang has nothing left, thats like dont knoe when , thats when we will go back to Gerakan. This all falls about populist policies. I fully agree and support your very fact rich postings in the last few days. This doesn’t mean you… Read more »


owh, so Eagle is saying , everything is okay as long as no hidden agenda. thats the kind of mindset we want in our malaysia ka? i am sorry but, u bashed people like hell when they broke any law. even go to the roads to make ur feeling heard. and then one of u break the law, u say something else. i believe the right thing to Guan Eng to do is, comeback and solve the conversion problem. if need to reverse back to leasehold, so do it. i am not DAP supporter, but i am not that blind… Read more »