Hill-slope projects: Guan Eng responds to The Star

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Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng has responded to The Star’s criticism of hill-slope projects in the state.

Guan Eng said:

Star has developed a persistent blind spot by insisting that the previous BN government did no wrong whilst the present PR state government must shoulder the entire blame for inheriting all the hill projects above 250 feet approved by the previous BN government. The Penang state government has to put the record straight from this dishonest attempt to rewrite history.

In its enthusiasm to lynch the Penang PR state government, Star has ignored the fact that the Penang PR state government did not approve any development projects above 250 feet. At the same time, the MCA-owned paper makes the startling claim that there are PR or DAP assemblymen who agree with the Star that the hills in Penang are dying under PR’s stewardship. Nothing can be further from the truth.

The present PR state government has imposed stringent guidelines on hill projects approved by the previous state government that has been worked out by an independent professional committee newly set up, headed by Oxford geotechnical engineer Dr. Gue See Saw and two other members from The Institute of Engineers Malaysia and Perbadanan Akitek Malaysia. Whilst these new hill slope guidelines have caused unhappiness amongst developers about the legality of implementing these technical guidelines retrospectively, the state government is determined to compel compliance. And yet the Star and its BN accomplices continues to tag on the Penang PR state government as pro-developer and even claim that there is a gag order imposed by the state government and MPPP on those who wish to speak out on hill projects.

This is untrue. There is no gag order imposed by the state government on any assemblyman. I have checked with MPPP President AR Patahiyah binti Ismail and she has also confirmed that no gag order was imposed except stating the reminder by the Appeals Board and the courts not to publicly discuss cases that are being heard because they are subjudice. Even MPPP Councilor Lim Mah Hui has confirmed that there was no gag order imposed on him.

There is no need to respond to personalities quoted in the Star with a partisan political background, However, I wish to refer to the suggestion made by George Aeria, a resident who had supported the PR in 2008 general elections, that the PR state government must cancel all hill projects approved previously by the BN state government.

The Penang state government does not deny there are problems caused to residents by hill development projects approved by the previous administration. But much as the state government wishes to make these problems disappear by cancelling all the hill projects approved by the previous BN government, that solution is not feasible. To cancel these projects would require huge compensation being paid out to the developers, a sum that neither MPPP nor state government can afford.

As an estimate to the possible compensatory costs involved, Boustead Holdings Bhd is making a claim of RM60 million from MPPP following a reduction of the height of its building from 12 storey to 5 storey in the George Town Heritage area to comply with the 18 meter height requirement of UNESCO World Heritage City Guidelines. Again the 12 storey height limit was approved to Boustead by the previous state government, which broke its promise to UNESCO that no such approval above 5 storey would be given.

Based on the Boustead experience, if reducing the height by a mere 12 storey to 5 storey can attract a claim of RM60 million, the state or MPPP would have to fork out hundreds of millions of ringgit or even billions to cancel all the hill projects approved by the previous administration.

This would definitely bankrupt MPPP or the state government. PR cannot behave irresponsibly to 1.6 million Penangites to allow MPPP or the state to go bankrupt. For that reason, the PR state government has taken the difficult choice to manage the hill projects approved by the previous BN government with stringent hill slope safety guidelines to ensure public safety.

We know this decision will not make existing hill slope residents like George Aeria happy. For that reason, we would respect his choice should he decide to switch back his support to BN and trust the very party that has caused the problems in the first place. George Aeria will have to think through carefully whether BN can be trusted not to approve new hill projects above 250 feet or be able to cancel existing projects BN had approved prior to 2008.

The Penang PR state government can only assure the public that we will not follow the previous BN state government’s practice of approving development projects above 250 feet. The PR state government would continue to impose stringent guidelines on hill projects previously approved as monitored by the independent professional technical hill slope committee headed by Dr Gue See Saw.

In the case of Boustead, it initially submitted a claim of RM58m. The state very nearly granted it reclamation rights covering 100 acres of prime sea-front land in Bayan Bay. But residents’ objections put a stop to that.

In the event, the state eventually negotiated with Boustead to pay RM20m, as reported in theSun – a far cry from the excessively high compensation claim feared.

The report in theSun:

Penang gives RM20m in compensation to Boustead
Posted on 25 October 2011 – 05:28am

Himanshu Bhatt and Aaron Ngui
[email protected]

GEORGE TOWN (Oct 24, 2011): The state government has agreed to pay RM20 million to Boustead Holdings Bhd as compensation for scaling down its 12-storey hotel project to five-stories, as required by Unesco heritage requirements, in the city’s heritage enclave.

Local government committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow revealed to the state assembly today that Boustead had initially asked for RM58 million but following negotiations, the company agreed to the amount offered by the state.

“Further negotiations are continuing, focusing on the schedule of payment and at the same time, Boustead can go ahead with their project,” he said in reply to a supplementary question to Sim Tze Pin (PKR-Pantai Jerejak).

Sim had asked for updates on the plan to give Boustead reclamation rights near Bayan Bay.

Boustead initially was given the green-light to reclaim 100 acres of the shoreline as compensation to scale down its hotel project in George Town’s inner city.

However, the state government had revoked the reclamation project following objections by residents and Sim.

Generally speaking, I think we should refrain from conceding that the local government will have to pay high compensation for projects rejected or downsized. This may turn out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy as naturally, it may prompt developers to submit high compensation claims. I don’t think it is a street-savvy negotiating stance to concede right at the start that the local government may have to pay high compensation. It results in the public being cowed into silence and opens the door to potentially large claims.

Developers in general are free to submit all kinds of claims, but it is up to the local government to challenge or counter those claims and protect the interests of the people. The local government should make it known that it will vigorously contest any and all such claims to protect the public interest.

Developers who submit excessive compensation claims against the local government (which are accountable for public funds) should also be mindful that they stand to lose much in goodwill.

If the local government feels a particular developer’s action has been against the public interest, would it be possible to blacklist such a developer from future projects in the state?

The people of Penang threw out the BN administration, which had ruled the state for nearly four decades, and voted in this administration to protect the public interest and public funds more effectively. That is a huge responsibility.

The larger issue is, what kind of development model are we pursuing? Development for whom? Who stands to benefit and profit most from all these projects, not just in Penang but elsewhere in BN-ruled states as well? And at what cost to the environment?

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Ravi Vijaya

Ong Eu Soon, you have my respect for your courageous rectitude in exposing wrongs impartially. Your may come across as brash to some but your principals are estimable and your reasoning, rational. It’s people like you who can help save our beloved Penang from political doublespeak – and destruction, while most people ignorantly choose to be unconditionally loyal to the government of the day instead of thinking of our future. Keep up the good work!

Kien Hong

Ong Eu Soon’s opinion could find its place in The Star i.e. nobody ever read. He should join MCA or Gerakan and use the platform there to make a name for himself.

Please do not clog Anil’s blog with your frustration.
The stench is blocking my nostril from the smell of tunglang’s har-mee of Penang!

ong eu soon

Go to http://eusoon.blogspot.com to see the so called declassified info. No queue no cost. no headache. no need photostat.

tunglang

No queue no cost. no headache. no need photostat.
No need to argue for more proofs or waste saliva (which by Nature’s design should be for enjoying Penang Street Hawker Food).
Ah Soon Kor, I will soon announce my blogspot.com for Penang’s Tham Chiak Kuis to salivate online as promised earlier!

ong eu soon

Looking forward to participate in your blog.

ong eu soon

I have never seen a politician who are so recalcitrant in denying his own wrong doing and blame other for it. Lim Guan Eng, you ask for it when you said that you rather fail then do nothing. Now you really fail!

Ong Goo Kang

Penangites are fed-up of this blame game. What they wanted are actions. Now that DAP is in power, they have the responsibility to stop whatever is deterimental to Penang. There’s a Malay saying “kalau hendak seribu daya, kalau tak hendak seribu dalih”, meaning if someone really want to do something, he will really try to find the ways to do it, but if he doesn’t want to, he will find every excuse not to do it. As the CM, LGE is seen washing his hands-off over this issue and did not try to take the initiative to stop the hills… Read more »

tunglang

It’s nice to bring out the dirty linens @ 308, but it’s also hard work to clean off the Kotor after that. Excuses (of legalities) legitimate or not is one thing, being responsible to manage a state with no hill slide or landslide due to unsustainable hill development is another thing altogether. Bukit Cina is no hill compared to Penang’s. Safety of lives is one huge responsibility – btw don’t ask the developers whether they care or can guarantee safety before Highland Towers v2 incident ever happens in Penang. Nowadays, it rains cats, dogs & buffaloes! Not a nice feeling… Read more »

ong eu soon

Obtaining the planning permission approval did not mean that the developers have been given the final approval. After obtaining the planning permission approval, only can the developer submit EIA report for approval. Only after obtaining the EIA approval, the real approval on building plan is given. Which mean before you given approval to building plan you can reject the application. Who is misleading the public?

ong eu soon

All the other 38 hill slope projects should be rejected the moment the permissible planning approval expired. Why lgE didn’t do so? Do I need to offer the explanation? Better I leave it to your imagination and allow you to make your own conclusion.

ong eu soon

There is only one special project approved by KTK. lgE subsequently use it as reference to approve another 18 special projects. Even if all those projects approved by KTK, they have expiry date. Who renewed the approvals? Why renew the approval? Why not take the opportunity to reject all the special projects? Why approved the 18 projects as special when they all go against the definition of special projects?

ong eu soon

There is a mistake in the report. The amendment was submitted on Oct 14, 2009 and approved on march 2011.

ong eu soon

Dear Stupid Sycophant Smart Alecs, This is just a beginning, a small step to stir a (debate) on hill slopes issues. I promise you that you will have fun beyond your imagination! lgE can still insists that he never approved any hill slope projects 250ft above sea level. Let me tell you how on obtain the info without the need to declassify the documents. No one can sue you for huge compensation or put you into jail for using any info that are available in public domain. All you need to do is just go to the e-Local Government’s OSC… Read more »

Sze Tho

Congratulations Ah Soon, you were duly mentioned by Jocelyn. Wow, you must be over the moon with joy!

BTW, your new found fame amongst the MCA crowd aside, any new courage to make it official? Go on TV3 perhaps to repeat your allegations and personal attacks? Or are you content to hide behind her skirt?

I look forward to seeing you sued out of your pants for slander and libel…
🙂

ong eu soon

That is just a prelude. Not the real one.

ong eu soon

Go to my blog. I repeat all the allegations and provide with evidence and proof. Waiting to be sued.

tunglang

Ah Soon Kor ah!
You should start a Prove Penang In Shat Reality blogging called “You Asked For It” @ anilnetto.com.
Today you make my day.

ong eu soon

According to See-Sew GUE and Shiao-Yun WONG in their write-up on SLOPE ENGINEERING DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION PRACTICE IN MALAYSIA, the first authority to document hillsite development in Malaysia was the Urban and Rural Planning Department in 1997. The guideline addressed the issues of planning and development in highlands on slopes, natural waterways, and water catchment areas (Abdullah et al., 2007). In June 2002, the Minerals and GeoScience Department Malaysia (JMG) produced guidelines on hillsite development. The guidelines considered the angle of natural slopes, type of terrain, type of activities, previous slip history, severity of erosion, etc. The areas were then… Read more »

ong eu soon

Development density of 30 units per acre we already can’t tolerate. Now we are told, in a sensitive hilly area, the state government approved a project with medium density of less than 87 units per acre. Sungai Ara folks, I am coming …! You bet I will not do anything to finish off this lgE administration.

Sze Tho

Yes, such a brave man hiding behind his PC. Yet no guts to go to the papers?

ong eu soon

You sure ah?

Sze Tho

People like you are predictable. Cowards who take potshots from afar. Yet no cajones or integrity to take responsibility.

Prove us wrong, otherwise stop wasting our time with your constant whinning.

ong eu soon

If I don’t come really hard on your idol, a stupid sycophant like you will not realise what type of trouble you have created for lgE!

Sze Tho

Talk is cheap old chap. Show us the beef. Go on TV, repeat your story. Ada berani?

Or are you just good enough to blabber here and to the Star?

ong eu soon

One of the criteria for classification as “projek istemewa” is low development density. lgE allegedly approved one project at Persiaran Kelicap with medium density of 87 units per acre. I have the executive summary of this project with me. Just wonder if lgE still insists that he never approved any hillslope project 250ft above sea level. I also wonder whether all the smart alec still insist that lgE has done no wrong, and it is KTK who should shoulder the blame.

ong eu soon

The project site is located on undulating terrains with contour ranging from 10m to 80m. Slopes on the project is as follows;

<15 degree 6.34 acre 44.96%
16-25 degree 4.57 acre 32.38%
26-35 degree 1.97 acre13.96%
36-60 degree 1.22 8.7%

ong eu soon

Persiaran Kelicap is a hilly area with height between 87m to 297m which is 250ft above sea level. There are a lot submissions for development in this area. lgE claimed that his administration never approved a single hillslope project 250 ft above sea level. I would like lgE to retrieve his claim, otherwise I will compile the list to further expose …. The areas is suppose to be a low development density area, but the number of development that will take place is very alarming.
Stay tune while I write my most vicious criticisms against lgE pending the coming election.

ong eu soon

BOULEVARD Condominium was designed for the modern family in mind. Consist of two elegant 37 and 38-storey condominiums development that will be among Ayer Itam’s most exclusive addresses, these innovative homes fuse architectural ingenuity with functional creativity. The all-inclusive towers will redefine town living with approximately 428 condominium homes ranging from 936 square feet to 2,336 square feet with full condo’s facilities, which will offer a sanctuary for homeowners and their guests. Each unit comes with 2 covered car park bays. Who approved this project? KTK again????? MPPP/OSC/PB(1963)/09 : Cadangan Pindaan Kepada Pelan Bangunan No. MPPP/OSC/PB(775)/08 Yang Telah Diluluskan Pada… Read more »

ong eu soon

Expert: Hillslope development guidelines need fine-tuning Tags: Gue See Sew By Wong King Wai of theedgeproperty.com Wednesday, 11 November 2009 16:53 PETALING JAYA: The current rainy spell has raised fears of landslides for especially those living on elevated grounds. A section of the old trunk road near Templer’s Park in Selangor had to be closed recently due to a landslide. There was also a report of soil erosion said to be threatening the safety of medium-cost flats nearby. Landslides and hill slope development are not new in Malaysia. The federal government recently unveiled the Guidelines for Hillside and Highland Areas… Read more »

tunglang

Politics is a game of perception & much less a tedious slide show of glowing but dull facts & figures which are easily forgotten in the mayhem of blame-game & one-upmanship, thanks to ApaNama syndrome among us. Even a porn star can deliver punches without feeling any shame (of his exposed private life) in BolehLand, what is good fact & nice figure of one’s political mouse catching. If Penang Pakatan is ever to achieve a landslide victory on the (long & winding) road to Putrajaya, it has to clear some of the messes left by its predecessor, Gelak-Gelakan. No matter… Read more »

ong eu soon

all i need to do is just swing 5% votes from lgE to make sure his downfall.

Sze Tho

Then how come you’re not sharing your precious info with the Star and Utusan? That would serve your purpose well.

Or maybe the newspapers won’t layan you? Guess they know better than to rely on a cranky loon.

🙂

ong eu soon

CKY already admitted that lgE administration did approve at least 2 hillslope project 250ft above sea level. 1 at batu ferrighi and another 1 in Sg Ara. Too bad! Wait for my interview with star to come out. Stay tune!

Sze Tho

Oh really? The Star running articles on mental health and you were picked perhaps?

We look forward to it. But in keeping with your track record, you will chicken out and give some lame excuse.

🙂

ong eu soon
Taiger Lambong

Anil
I expect your blog will attract many BN-MCA friendly cybertroopers as the Star has reported (see link below) they have deployed 500 new recruits.
Well, let’s see which camp has more brains articulating the issues affecting the rakyat !
I for sure know who are … going for nuts LOL

http://thestar.com.my/metro/story.asp?file=/2012/6/11/north/11454699&sec=north

ong eu soon

It is now confirmed that the previous state government only approved one specail project,i.e. Vista Gambier. But … see the following quote from news report:

The Chief Minister said these projects, including those approved as “special projects” by the previous administration, should be referred to the committee, which comprises several state executive councillors.

How can a singular become a plural, lgE’s English level seem to be as bad as mine!

Sze Tho

Don’t just blabber. How was it confirmed that only 1 was approved. Facts please.

ong eu soon

you think only 1 ah, dream lah! i keep the info for future fights. let see how lgE response. You bet the attacks will be coming soon!!!!!!!

Sze Tho

Yes ,yes, blabber on. Answer the question.

ong eu soon

Malu , shame are words so foreign to guys like King Kong, Sze tho, Kee, Yang, Wira, Ahmad Sobri, sunnyooi, Tiger67, andy, gerakan K, Andrew I. All these people are sycophant cyber troopers who refuse to face the reality about the wrongs perpetuated by the ruling power!!!!!!

wira

Ong. What foreign guy are you babbling about?

I am a voter in Bayan Baru. The guy I am extremely ashamed of is my Member of Parliament who betrayed my vote.

Sze Tho

Ah Soon,
You have already been proven wrong. Put up correct info or shut up. Flooding the site with repetitive comments just shows you are bankrupt of ideas. Foreign? You confused or senile now?

sunnyooi

Look at your rant across this page and others as well. And you have the galls to preach about shame.

ong eu soon

Now you have the safety guideline and suddenly you discovered that may be all the projects are violating the safety guideline, what are you gonna do? Vote for lgE for change???? or vote for change????

Sze Tho

Be a man. Go to the press. Put your money where your mouth is. Otherwise you’re just a cheap shot with ni credibility. If you are so sure, what are you afraid off?
Aren’t you always bragging that you have the proof to bring LGE down? Name it official. No more excuses.

ong eu soon

Mark my word, this is the way lgE will tell you why he did not comply to the safety guideline. Ah Soon, there is no safety guideline prior to June 2012. It is call safety guideline for hillslope development 2012. So how do you want me to comply with something not exist!
That is why I keep asking the local NGOs what guideline are they talking about when they want to revise the so called guideline. No guideline, no rule, no policy, no law, it is free for all!

tan tanjong bungah

Hi everyone,

If the so-called safety guidelines were drawn up in 2012, is it possible to implement it retrospectively for projects approved earlier than that date?

Let the legal fraternity enlighten us on such retrospective implementation which may or may not result in the State Govt being sued by developers!

ong eu soon

lgE himself (allegedly) never comply to the safety guideline when he accused that majority of the hillslope projects approved by KTK never comply with the guideline. lgE not only refuse to right the wrongs, he himself insists to perpetuate the wrongs or justified the wrongs of KTK when it come to violation of the safety guideline. Why claim that lgE follow stringent guideline when lgE (allegedly) violated the guideline….

ong eu soon

The following is clause 8 un der Major Consideration segment of the safety guideline of hillslope development : Proposed development on flat land adjacent to potentially unstable slope, as shown in fig. 3, which could not be strengthened for any reason including its inaccessibility due to trespass and/or land issues, will require a suitable buffer zone. The width ofthe buffer zone should be at least the height of the slope There is no way developers can sue the state government if lgE ask the developers to comply with the buffer zone requirement. lgE can use the violation to rescind any… Read more »

ong eu soon

Instead of scale down the special project, he actually allow expansion to the original projects.

Sze Tho

And you know this how? Consulted any lawyers? Or just another half truth that you are using to spin this story on and on…..?