When discussing the RM1.5 billion PGCC scandal along with the scandalous rezoning from “recreational” land to “new development”, we cannot afford to ignore what was going on in Batu Kawan, which is closely connected to the PGCC saga.
The PGCC and Batu Kawan deals reveal some highly questionable circumstances.
During a meeting between Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and activists a couple of days ago, I suggested to the Chief Minister that the state government initiates an in-depth probe to uncover the business-political connections in the PGCC-Batu Kawan deals while thoroughly examining the re-zoning of the Batu Gantung land. For there is more to these deals than meets the eye.
It is important to recall that Abad Naluri did not actually own the Batu Kawan site in 2002 when it submitted its tender to the Penang Turf Club. After all, the principal or master agreement for the acquisition of the Batu Kawan land from the PDC was only entered into in 2004.
Now let’s look at this revealing chronology of events – including the changes in the political leadership in Putrajaya during the crucial 2002-2004 period:
May 9 – Abad Naluri submits tender for Penang Turf Club’s relocation and sale of Batu Gantung land. The tender letter, signed by a politically well connected individual in the firm then, claims that Abad Naluri would build a new race-course for the Penang Turf Club at a 250-acre site at Batu Kawan, which it says has already been “approved” by the PDC. Who exactly signed the “approval letter”?
June – Mahathir annouces shock decision to quit. Umno issues statement confirming that Mahathir will be replaced by his deputy Abdullah Badawi towards the end of 2003.
Nov 25 – Turf Club EGM approves sale of Turf Club land in Batu Gantung and acquisition of Batu Kawan site.
March 21 – Preliminary agreement said to have been entered into between the Turf Club and Abad Naluri. Under this agreement, Abad Naluri pays advances totalling RM10 million, presumably as “compensation” to Turf Club members.
Nov 1 – Abdullah Badawi formally takes over as PM from Mahathir.
Jan 16 – Penang Development Corporation enters into a ‘master agreement’ to sell about eight parcels of land on the mainland in Batu Kawan, totalling over 1,000 acres, to one very “fortunate” company, Abad Naluri. One of these parcels, measuring 300 acres, is for the new racecourse site. The purchase consideration for this parcel is later said to be RM46 million.
On what basis was 1,000 acres of potential prime land allotted to one firm?
Mar 21 – Abdullah Badawi cements position as PM after leading BN to landslide victory in general election.
May 12 – Agreement entered into between Turf Club and Abad Naluri for the sale of the Turf Club land in Batu Gantung on the island at a low, low “recreational land” price of RM43 per sq ft. (Why would the Turf Club sell to a property developer at such a low “recreational land” price when it knows the latter is going to develop the land? Doesn’t make sense, unless…)
July 5 – Layout plan for Batu Kawan race-course approved by MPSP even though terms of PDC’s actual S&P agreement with Abad Naluri not yet finalised.
By Sept/Oct – Abad Naluri submits application for planning permission re PGCC on the Turf Club land.
Draft Penang Structure Plan indicates that rezoning almost a done deal – apparently and amazingly without any application from the developer.
Nov 12 – Abdullah Badawi officiates at the ground-breaking ceremony of the proposed second bridge site in Batu Kawan, which by a happy ‘coincidence’ happens to sit right next to the proposed Batu Kawan race-course site and close to Abad Naluri’s other parcels of land.
June 28 – Conversion of Turf Club land from recreational land to “new development” is gazetted under the Penang Structure Plan, turning PGCC developer Abad Naluri into instant billionaire firm, after spending only RM10 million on the land!
Oct 17 – Prime Minister Abdullah launches PGCC project, flanked by then Chief Minister Koh Tsu Koon, Patrick Lim and the Abad Naluri chairman – even though acquisition of Turf Club land not yet completed and work on Batu Kawan race-course has barely begun.
Now, after all this, don’t you think that Guan Eng has strong grounds to look again at how the re-zoning of the Turf Club land to “new development” was carried out – and how over 1,000 acres of Batu Kawan land was allotted to Abad Naluri? I believe he shouldn’t worry about compensation claims from Abad Naluri as he stands on much stronger ground, considering the business-political connections behind the Turf Club-Abad Naluri-PDC deals and the highly questionable re-zoning.
Onward towards the Penang People’s Park!