How to stop any development of Penang Turf Club for now

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The dream of a Penang People’s Park lives on.

But Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng seems concerned that if he rezones the Penang Turf Club land back from “development” status to “recreational”, it could expose the state government to claims of compensation.

But he needn’t have to worry too much. For the Penang state government holds a trump card. It can take back the Batu Kawan land and, in doing so, foil any bid to develop the Penang Turf Club land by 2011.

In April 2008, the Penang Turf Club signed a supplementary agreement with Abad Naluri Sdn Bhd, extending by three years its original agreement signed in 2004 to March 2011. Under this agreement, the requirement for Abad Naluri to build a new racecourse in Batu Kawan is still there.

But there are concerns that new parties could be taking over the reins at Abad Naluri or Equine with other plans for property development on the Penang Turb Club land.

One way to preserve the Turf Club’s green lung for now is for the Penang state government to block the sale of the Batu Kawan land to Abad Naluri.

It can easily do this. The master agreement between the Penang Development Corporation and Abad Naluri for various parcels of land totalling more than 1,000 acres (wow, 1,000 acres to one company! very lucky one!), was signed in January 2004. Under this agreement, Abad Naluri was given four years to settle the purchase consideration. But until now, the actual sale and purchase agreement for the Batu Kawan racecourse parcel of 300 acres apparently has not yet even been signed, and the land has not been paid for – even though payment should have been made by January 2008. So the PDC can take back the Batu Kawan land, effectively making it impossible for Abad Naluri to build a new racecourse on the mainland for the Turf Club. If the PDC were to do this, Abad Naluri would be unable to fulfil its part of the agreement with the Turf Club.

Now, the background to how Abad Naluri was awarded the tender in 2002 for the relocation of the Turf Club gets very interesting. In 2002, four parties were said to be involved in the bidding for the Turf Club relocation plan, namely firms linked to two different tycoons in KL, another one in Penang and Abad Naluri. One of these parties is now said to be eyeing the Turf Club land again.

Abad Naluri’s tender is believed to have been submitted and signed in May 2002 by someone in the company then who was politically well-connected (try and guess who it was – it’s not Patrick Lim, who many believe was just a ‘front man’).

Abad Naluri is believed to have been awarded the tender because of its ability to build a new racecourse in Batu Kawan. The firm had claimed that it had a land bank of 250 acres in Batu Kawan which it could use to build the new racecourse and it had a “letter of approval” (from the PDC?) to support that claim.

But the funny thing is that the master agreement between PDC and Abad Naluri for the Batu Kawan land was only signed in January 2004. The agreement included the parcel of 300 acres for the Batu Kawan racecourse. So this means that when Abad Naluri submitted its tender, it had not yet entered into the master agreement with Batu Kawan. But that did not stop Abad Naluri from already claiming it had 250 acres to build the race-course. And the Penang Turf Club believed this – based on a letter of approval?

Blog reader dontplaypuks left this comment:

Knowing state governments, government departments and local councils, I will bet my bottom $ that proper procedures were not adhered to and that the decision was ultra vires their powers. e.g an EIA may not have been done or there was no quorum in the approval given by the State Govt. or a public inquiry that ought to have been held, was not.

Under those circumstances, if the conversion can be proven illegal or beyond the powers of the state, then the conversion can be reversed.

I am sure LGE, who now has the resources of a whole state and access to the best local lawyers, can get cracking on this, pronto!!

Another blog reader, rhino, says Penang desperately needs more recreational space:

We need the PEOPLES PARK!!! Ask LGE to take a walk in Botanical Gardens and Youth Park during the weekends. See for himself how utterly bad the situation is, and how desperate people are for that little space to exercise.

And, it is a tourist stop-over. Utterly shameful for Penang. Even weekdays go and see for yourself how badly a park is needed.

No more space for people to exercise!

Blog reader Andrew sent in this message: “I don’t care how Guan Eng does it; I am not interested in all the legal and business obstacles. We elected him to do something different – and we want the People’s Park!”

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malaysiantruly

CM Lim, do not waste time further, get ready a team of lawyers and instruct them to proceed legally to undo the whole legal issues with Patrick Lim. If you are fearful of the implications and consequences, then we Malaysians would see you as just another ordinary lips service politicians.

donplaypuks

Dear Anil The first step would be to get a real legal eagle to go through the application originally submitted for PGCC land conversion and the approvals given. Knowing state governments, government departments and local councils, I will bet my bottom $ that proper procedures were not adhered to and that the decision was ultra vires their powers. e.g an EIA may not have been done or there was no quorum in the approval given by the State Govt. or a public inquiry that ought to have been held, was not. Under those circumstances, if the coversion can be proven… Read more »

Mike

Thanks for updating all of us as to the “ins” and “outs” on the Penang Turf Club Saga. As many of your concerned readers have noted, we need to ensure that what you have raised is being communicated to the newly elected Pakatan Rakyat Govt. More importantly we need to make sure that the new Govt is made aware that the Community is now awaken to this ..

Predictably, the new govt will be accosted by existing and new vested business interest grps. Politics is always about the “possible”; the integrity of the new govt notwithstanding !

rhino

We need the PEOPLES PARK!!! Ask LGE to take a walk in Botanical Gardens and Youth Park during the weekends. See for himself how utterly bad the situation is, and how desperate people are for that little space to exercise.

And, it is a tourist stop-over. Utterly shameful for Penang. Even weekdays go and see for yourself how badly a park is needed.

No more space for people to exercise!

peter

Yes.Lim should stop the sale of Batu Kawan land. PTC MUST NOT BE DEVELOPED AT ALL!
What I am afraid is that Polo Ground would be the next target!

artic turban

If fraud can be proven, than the agreements become null and void as it is a CBT CASE, THERE ARE PRECEDDENTS FOR THIS, if the agreement from the start was to defraud the state of its righfull payments, than the whole deck of cards collapses. the termination of the batu kawan is a brilliant answer, I suggest you get, jeff ooi’s or lim guan eng’s phone number, make your suggestions and than only write your articles, as basically you are warning off the crooks. anyway the agreement signed for BATU KAWAN HAS LAPSED SO THAT AGREEMENT IS NULL AND VOID.… Read more »

Andrew

Sorry, Anil, but unless it was another Andrew, it wasn’t me who posted the comment. Agreeable, nonetheless.

donplaypuks

Dear Anil

One other point. If anyone needs pointers on how a park should be laid out, managed and run, please go visit Taiping Lake Gardens, Perak.

I has suggested to City Hall in KL that if Lake Gardens in KL is to be converted from a Gulag to something close to Hyde park in London, they could do worse than hand over the Maangement Contract to those in charge of TG.

TLG itself can be improved, but at least they have reasonably high standards.

pgboleh

Why put the pressure on the new state government to resolve this issue promto without considering the legal impications and the potential impact on the state’s reserve if successful lawsuits were brought against the state??? If Penangnites had given Gerakan 39 years of chance for screw-ups, why the sudden urgency imposed on the new state government to make things spit and span overnight ??? Do not talk about promises they had made during the elections bcos Gerakan had made many, many promises previously and never seem to materialse after decades. Maybe Penang should hold a by election immediately in order… Read more »

Eskay Lim

Since the S&P Agreement between the PDC & Abad Naluri had lapsed, the latter company would not be able to get the land in Batu Kawan to build the new turf club for the PTC as per the agreement between Abad Naluri & PTC. Therefore, Abad Naluri would not dare to insist on the validity of it’s agreement with the PTC because the PDC under the state govt. would not be selling the land in Batu Kawan. So both agreements signed by Abad Naluri (if it really had) would lapse automatically.

Andrew

I share pgboleh’s views. They’ve had 39 years. This administration is two months old. Give them a break.

ckchew

Most likely we will not see a People’s Park over at PTC. As our dear friend, Anil has pointed out, there are too many vultures hovering around for the poor dying prime recreation land. The way I see it, there is one front runner who may eventually benefited from the new state government stand on the status of the land. The new CM gave a flimsiest excuse on why the land status should as “development”. Behind it, there is one “black hand” who is actively involves in the land matter. To the new state government, he ain’t heavy, he is… Read more »