An email landed in my email inbox and from the looks of it, the Penang state government needs to clarify a number of issues including land conversions: has the state government converted any land from leasehold to freehold so far?
In particular, was approval given in June to PDC Heritage (51 per cent owned by YTL) to convert its prime seafront land from leasehold to freehold status? Was the Penang State Assembly really misled, as the NST alleges (see here and here)?
You know there is a transparency or communications issue when even a church blog is compelled to ask for full clarification on various issues.
On land reclamation, developers are probably making a lot of money from prime land reclamation work. The question is, what does the Penang public get in return for allowing these developers to reap huge profits from such work? Was there a concession agreement and how was it awarded? What’s in it (financially) for the people of Penang?
Could we have this information – even if the approvals were granted during the BN era? Were there detailed EIAs, reviewed by expert panels, complete with modelling for the impact on the coastline (including those stretches further away) and the change in sedimentation patterns?
This issue is of more than passing interest. It has been reported that the Penang Port and the northern channel needs to be deepened now and this may cost a tidy sum, which could be borne by the public. That’s why we need to know if any proper sedimentation study was ever been done around the Penang coastline to gauge the impact of land reclamation work due to property development on the island and the construction of the North Butterworth Container Terminal on the mainland.
Finally, what is the status of the proposed housing development board, which reportedly may end up as a public-private initiative, to look into affordable housing for Penangites? (In contrast, Singapore’s HDB is a statutory board, a public housing authority under the Singapore Ministry of National Development. The same goes for the The Hong Kong Housing Authority, which is a statutory body established in April 1973 under the Housing Ordinance. Its role is to “develop and implement a public housing programme which seeks to achieve the Government’s policy objective of meeting the housing needs of people who cannot afford private rental housing.”)