Penang Turf Club member to move for EGM to reclassify land back to “recreational” status


turf club

In a surprise development, a prominent Penang Turf Club member, Tan Sri Tan Kok Ping, said he will, together with a group of members, “requisite for for an EGM to be convened as soon as possible to pass a resolution mandating the Turf Club committee to take immediate steps to submit application to the authorities to reclassify the racecourse back to its original open space for sports and recreational land use”.

This is to ensure once and for all that the racecourse shall forever be preserved as a green lung for the Penang people, he said in a press statement today.

If his call is heeded, it could present a way out of the Penang state government’s current predicament. Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng had indicated that the state government was concerned that if it initiated a move to reclassify the land back to recreational status, it could expose the state to claims of compensation.

Tan said he had been personally against the decision to sell the Batu Gantong land and build a new racecourse in Batu Kawan. He said he voted against the move during an EGM in 2002.

He also disagreed with a recent proposal, mooted by some members, for the Turf Club to consider selling the land to members and subdividing it into bungalow lots for members to profit from.

“I strongly believe that the racecourse be preserved as open space or green lung,” he stressed, adding that there should not be any form of commercial development for monetary gain to any group.

If one traces the history of the racecourse, the 260 acres of land was acceded to PTC by the Straits Settlement Government for a “nominal sum” in 1935 for recreational use as a racecourse, he pointed out.

“Since it was intended for recreational purposes from the beginning, PTC should safeguard and honour the trust bestowed upon the club at all times.”

The club cannot simply sell the land for commercial activity or financial gain, he said.

He questioned how the club could allow the land to be turned over for a mega project for the benefit of “a small group of politically connected individuals to rake in billions of ringgit in profit without considering the massive social, cultural and physical impact affecting the lives of Penang people”.

He said it did not make commercial sense to throw away the existing buildings and facilities that cost nearly RM50 million to acquire over the years and to give up the club’s “first grade” land in the heart of the city in exchange for 300 acres of 60-year leasehold land in Batu Kawan.

“The Batu Gantong racecourse is a well-known landmark in Penang and it is a real shame to destroy the iconic heritage, particularly as the Government is trying to get the UN to designate George Town a heritage or historic city,” said Tan. He noted that other well-known racecourses in the world, including the HK Jockey Club, are located within city limits.

He said if the Turf Club wanted to raise funds to upgrade its facilities and racetrack, it could expand its membership from the current 580 to generate additional funds through new membership entrance fees.

Tan had stood for election to the Committee in 1992 but was not successful. He said he was no longer interested in running for the presidency or for a committee position.

Instead, he now prefers to focus on serving the Chinese business community through the Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce and “closer to my heart, community service through education in Han Chiang High School, Han Chiang College and Han Chiang Primary School in Penang”.

Tan is the current chairman of the Board of Governors of Penang Han Chiang Associated Chinese Schools Association, a non-profit organisation. The Han Chiang school authorities allowed the DAP to hold a mammoth 60,000-strong rally a couple of days before the 8 March general election – a move which helped catapult the party to power in Penang.

Critics of the PGCC deal have urged the state government to investigate the background to the shady deal, in particular to discover who was really responsible for pushing for the relocation of the racecourse to the mainland and and to find out how over 1,000 acres of Batu Kawan land was allotted to Abad Naluri Sdn Bhd.

Tan is now expected to file a court case tomorrow on issues related to the sale of the Turf Club land.

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23 May 2008 1.41am

This is a positive move that will pricked the conscience of other ‘uncles’ on the committee. It boggles the mind how incentious the whole deal was signed off at the first place. No two ways about it, pressure needs to be exerted on Abad Naluri to rescind all said contracts and for the ‘uncles’ to returned money paid by Abad Naluri. The Penang Turf Club needs to honour the wordings of the original charter – for recreational purpose – and the people behind this ‘get rich quick’ scam by hawking this piece of choice real estate should be named and… Read more »

23 May 2008 12.09am

The people of Penang must speak up. This is a good start. A good government must put the interest of the people first.

Free Spirit
Free Spirit
22 May 2008 10.28pm

Tan Kok Ping is a business partner of Vincent Tan. Tan Kok Ping is a BUSINESSMAN. The whole thing reeks of sour grapes.

raj raman666
raj raman666
22 May 2008 9.56pm


This maybe to your constant harrasment you follows up like leech they back off.

Sometimes its better to be leech until drop out.
rajraman666.will be back like the leech in your blogs.taking a break from blogging for mean time and be a observer.

Kuda cakap
Kuda cakap
23 May 2008 5.08pm

This Tan kok Ping is indeed closly related to Vincent Tan and held various high-profile positions in Berjaya. Berjaya was once trying to start its own horse racing biz but was denied by the govt due to the understanding that the `right’ was already given to AK’s Pan Malaysian Pools. It may be kind of sour grapes but the move now is deem righteous for the people of Penang. It’s always a privilege for those holding the committee posts in the Turf Club. Other than able to enjoy those lucrative lifestyle paid fully by the Turf Club, the crony capitalism… Read more »

23 May 2008 3.35pm

Dear Anil It may not be advisable to revert the PGCC Land zoning completely to ‘Recreational.’ The current commercial zoning has enhanced this land value stratospherically. There may arise a point in future where some limited commercial development such as a hotel, chalets or apartments for visiting members may be desirable. My understanding is that you can maintain the PGCC as a racr course, park etc without changing the commercial status. However, if it is deemed necessary to re-zone to Recreational, then say, 25% of the land can be reserved for commercial activities. The title can say Recretional Land and/or… Read more »

artic turban
artic turban
23 May 2008 10.24pm

LATEST NEWS, MALAYSIAKINI, The Penang Turf Club (PTC) committee members and several others are being sued by its members over the deal made with developer Abad Naluri Sdn Bhd to develop the controversial Penang Global City Centre (PGCC). GO HERE AND LOOK AT THE ROGUES’ GALLERY, Look under, ABOUT US / COMMITTEE AND YOU CAN SEE THE PENANG TURF CLUB COMMITTEE Oon Chong Kie, Teh Choon Beng, Ong Eng Khuan, John Alexander Rodgers, Henry Ooi Kwee Lim Goh Su Yen (Asst Club Secretary), Robin Rizal PH Tan (General Manager), Tan Phaik Guan, Ch’ng Chin Ghee, Robert Chan Woot Khoon,… Read more »

25 May 2008 2.28pm

No one can be trusted any more. Almost every one is like parasite waiting to have a bite on the cake.
Greed is the word!
Let us hope that LIM GUAN ENg keep to his promises- NO PGCC!!!

Kah Seng
27 May 2008 11.13am

From a friend’s email >CM made a press statement on 15/5/08 (Sun newspaper) that >”any attempt to re-designate the land earmarked for the >RM25 billion PGCC project to its original zone status as >open ground & recreation would put the State Govt at risk >of incurring hundreds of millions of ringgit”. > >CM also said that “under s.37 Town & Country Planning Act >(TCPA) a landowner can issue a purchase notice demanding >the State to buy the land at its value under the current >zoning status [as new development] if the zoning is changed > [to open ground & recreation]”.… Read more »