What happened to the ‘case of the century’?


The Penang state government had said this would the “case of the century for planning law” in Malaysia but then the MBPP changed its stance in court. What happened? Read the residents’ statement below:

Several residents’ associations and organisations in Penang have come together in a show of support and solidarity for the Sungei Ara residents who are appealing the decision of the Penang High Court, delivered on 29 May 2017.

The High Court had ruled in favour of Sunway City and overturned the decision of the Penang Appeals Board, which had decided in favour of the residents in not granting planning permission for the Sunway Hills project.

The Sunway Hills project by Sunway City in Sungei Ara involves housing development on sensitive hill land – that is, land with more than 250 feet (76 metres) above sea level and a gradient exceeding 25 degrees.

Sunway proposes to construct 600 highrise apartments and bungalows on hill land covering 80 acres, approximately 43 per cent of which are on slopes exceeding a gradient of 25 degrees.

On 20 November 2015, the Appeals Board upheld the objections by the residents who were owners of neighbouring lands against the approval of the project by the Majlis Bandaraya Pulau Pinang (MBPP).

Sunway City had argued that the MBPP had granted planning permission properly because the proposed development is a ‘special project.’ The residents argued that the sensitive hill land is unsuitable for the development proposed.

The Appeals Board ruled that the MBPP was wrong in granting the approval as it had failed to consider properly that (in this case), the primary objective of the Penang Structure Plan 2020 is to preserve hill lands; and only very limited and justifiable exceptions were allowed as ‘special projects’, the justification for which was lacking in the Sunway project.

Following the decision of the Appeals Board, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng had on 26 February 2016 at a press conference announced that the MBPP could now overturn the approvals given to similar hill slope special projects approved by the previous Barisan Nasional government. The legal adviser of MBPP, Puan Shamiah, and also YB Jagdeep Singh Deo, a state exco member and town and country planning committee chairman, were also at this press conference.

The National Human Rights Society (Hakam) and Penang Forum, who were invited to attend the press conference, applauded the State government’s support for the Appeals Board decision as it best served the public interest and sustainable development.

The Penang Structure Plan 2020 was gazetted in 2007 and states that the exception to the prohibition on hill land development is only for ‘special projects’ – but it does not define what they are.

special projects

The definition and the guidelines for ‘special projects’ were approved by the present government in 2009. How the guidelines are to be interpreted is the bone of contention in the Sungei Ara residents case.

Following the clarification provided by the Appeals Board in the Sunway case, the expectation was that the state government would have revised or redefined what are ‘special projects’ in the 2009 guidelines to prohibit future private development on hill lands.

We are therefore surprised that at the hearing at the Penang High Court, the counsel for MBPP took a different stance from that publicly announced by the chief minister.

The Sungei Ara residents were disappointed that the lawyers for the MBPP argued against the clarity of the definition provided by the Appeals Board as regards ‘special projects’.

We are indeed intrigued as to the change of stance by the MBPP and would like to enquire what stance the state government and MBPP will now take before the Court of Appeal when the residents seek to restore the Appeals Board decision.

We are supporting the appeal against the High Court decision, as it has serious implications not only for the immediate residents of the vicinity of the project but also for all citizens of Penang who will be affected by development projects in environmentally sensitive areas, including on hillslopes and highlands in Penang.

The decision will also have serious implications for all cases involving planning law in the country.

The High Court, in ruling in favour of Sunway City, had among other things, held the project to be a ‘special project,’ and hence an exception to the Penang Structure Plan.

The judge in the case had also suggested that the Penang Structure Plan “need not be slavishly complied” with by the MBPP.

These are serious matters of public interest which must be reviewed by the Court of Appeal. The High Court decision must not serve as a precedent for other development projects on hill lands and environmentally sensitive areas.

Consequently, the Sungei Ara residents have filed a notice of appeal against the decision – and we stand in solidarity with them in their appeal.

The chief minister in the press conference last year, acknowledged that the High Court case “is expected to be the case of the century for planning law in Malaysia”, and had blamed the previous government for approving projects on sensitive hill lands.

Given the above, we call for the following actions to be taken urgently:

  1. It is vital for the chief minister and the MBPP to make clear their position as regards the appeal by the residents to restore the Appeals Board decision;
  2. The state government revise or redefine what are ‘special projects’ in the 2009 guidelines in order to explicitly prohibit any future development on hill land except for essential public amenities, pending a revision of the new Structure Plan.
  3. Since the present Structure Plan is now pending revision, the state should also ensure the explicit prohibition of any future development on hill land except for essential public amenities.
  4. The state should also stop approving any further applications for excision of the status of ‘hill land’ from the Land Conservation Act 1960.

These matters are of great importance to all citizens of Penang. We also call on the public to support the Sungei Ara residents in this very critical public interest case.

Today it is Sungei Ara, tomorrow it could be Paya Terubong, and the next day it might be at your backyard; hence the need to defend the front line.

Development on sensitive hill land of more than 250 feet should not be allowed, as it poses serious environmental and social impacts for residents in neighbouring land such as soil erosion, landslides and landslips, and unstable soils and negative impacts from blasting works.

These are the precise concerns of the Sungei Ara residents that are also faced presently by other residents in Paya Terubong, and Jesselton Heights.

We laud their courage and spirit in spearheading this appeal to the Court of Appeal despite the financial challenges they are facing.

Their struggle in the public interest should be supported for a better environment and a better Penang!

For those who wish to support the efforts of the Sungei Ara residents, kindly contact Mr Manuel Nicholas (mobile h/p :012 4899321; email: [email protected]).

This statement is endorsed by:

Name, Organisation

1. Meenakshi Raman, Tanjung Bungah Residents Association (TBRA)

2. Manuel Nicholas, Management Corporation Sunrise Garden Condominium, Sungai Ara

3. Medalene Sim, Management Committee Solok Kelicap, Sungai Ara

4. Tan Sri Gajaraj Dhanarajan, Management Corporation of The Cove, Tanjung Bungah

5. Dr Ti Lian Geh, Taman Sri Rambai /Taman Lau Geok Swee RA, Paya Terubong

6. Jeffery Ho, Taman Sri Nibong Residents Association, Bayan Lepas

7. Abdul Rahim bin Sultan, Management Corporation of Desaria Sri Merpati Apartments, Taman Desaria, Sungai Ara

8. Ang Sue Khoo, Pykett Residents’ Committee

9. K. Suthakar, Tanjung Court Residents’ Ad hoc Committee and Joint Residents Associations of Bandar Baru Air Itam Ad hoc Committee

10. Henry Loh, Management Corporation of Diamond Villa, Tanjung Bungah

11. Alan Tan, Management Committee of Lavinia Apartment, Bayan Lepas

12. Abdul Razak Bin Osman, Management Corporation Taman Sri Putera, Taman Desaria, Sungai Ara

13. Haji Fadzil Bin Hitam, Desaria Residents Association, Sungai Ara

14. Andy Saw, Management Corporation Regency Heights Condominium, Taman Desaria, Sungai Ara

15. Hor Cheok Weng, Management Committee of Mewar Apartments, Sungai Ara

16. S Subbiah Residents’ Association of Pantai Molek, Tanjung Tokong

17. Datuk Yap Ching Chau, Residents’ Association of Jesselton, Penang

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Between 2011 and 2015, Penang received RM950 million, Kelantan from the federal government. But, Kelantan still backward. Where did the … money goes to ? This is 100 % malays in control. Talk about hudud and public caning. The whole state cabinet should be caned in full public view for this pathetic state of affairs !


Najib has blamed one of his predecessors for various “horrendous” decisions made in the past concerning national flag carrier Malaysia Airlines (MAS).

You, Najib, were also a member of the cabinet at that time. Thus, if anyone is to be blamed, it also includes you. Have you forgotten that there is such thing as collective responsibility?

There are endless cases of financial mismanagement in many government-linked companies and state agencies.

Why pick on MAS? Why not choose the National Feedlot Corporation (NFC), Felda Global Ventures Holdings Berhad (FGV) or even the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ).

Winning Way

Ask MO1 why his family need a private jet instead of using MAS plane. PM Singapore use SIA on official business.

Tan Seng Hai

This is a throwback of a dialogue the CM had with the Sg Ara residents affected by this Sunway City project on 10 June 2012. This video clip titled “Dialogue with Sungai Ara residents on Sunway City hillslope project.” Pay special attention at the following segments in the video:

0.40: “This state govt will not allow any major development above 250 ft.”
7.30: “The State Planning Committee has authority over the local council.”
7.40: “Unless there is a change of govt, we will not allow this project to proceed.”
Follow this link below:

Mak Khuin Weng

1. Former Selangor MB Khalid Ibrahim stopped the Dolomite Batu Caves condo project in 2012 due to GE13.

2. The Batu Caves project developer has not taken Selangor government to court since 2012, almost five years already. Statuette of limitations is three years for challenging government decision. So the only reason the case is in court is because Penang Government supports the project.


Precisely. Due to the rather overwhelming power vested in the local and Federal government agencies, approvals given before can be withdrawn. In this case, it is clear that the state is with the developer. The developer would not dare to appeal if the state is not supporting their bid. Another wayang by the Tokong. The so-called people-centric government now has become developer-centric.


Good you mention that centralised gomen is sooooo powder full. Pg gets ais kosong but sibu, ipoh and Malacca can get tonnes. Who is not trying to get sense and yen from satu Bandar msia and xchge development which both father and mother of development. Talk big on pg but never talk even biggest on the two developments.


Blue saga seed and its make up stories. Only cronies in centralised system dare not sue as they are more powder full. You mean people too scare to sue mbpp and tokong? All the takut tactics are cultured by centralised system. You mean sunway lawyers are only good in making house buyers to pay their loans and forced to accept delayed cf and without compensation?


Please do not treat the readers in this blog like Utusan readers.


How to compare durian and chiku? Domolite is building next to former quarry. So many blasting induced hidden cracks in rock in steep vertical cliff. Easy to crack. Small rock kill.easy. Also very close to thaipusum Batu caves. It is more sensitive than just over 250ft on less than 30deg slope.

Tan Seng Hai

Planning permissions are valid only for 12 months unless renewed yearly per the TCPA


Despite upbeat figures, gloom is real https://www.themalaysianinsight.com/s/7200/ A Combination of prolonged economic sluggishness, rising cost of living and fracturing interfaith relations have led to low confidence in the government even with the expected rebound in the markets in the second half of this year, said analysts. “Many in the elite and middle class have lost faith, although they may be silent,” said Lim Teck Ghee, director of the Centre for Policy Initiatives at UCSI University. “The religious and racial divide is especially demoralising, and is worsening as a result of politicians and their proxies using the religious card,” said Lim,… Read more »


Wanda, the China big conglomerate, is selling off properties (eg hotels) to refinance its now diversified portfolios.

May be they sense global property meltdown soon. If so, this may trigger property bubble bursting in Malaysia?

With kleptocracy here winnable and likable, won’t be too smart to expect such bubbles to happen very soon.


The reality of the economic situation on the ground is very different from the feel good reporting by the BN mainstream media. Cost of living has gone up greatly in the last few years and Ringgit is still very low in value.


What this got to do with the issue at hand? You know what this means – by using such diversion tactics is a dead giveaway of a Red Bean Army soldier.


No is blue saga seed does the bidding. Who is big big? appeal board or high court? Sunway won just like the mp lost his case on passport. Not happy tell court to follow passport case. If blue saga seed not happy rakyat orso not happy with passport case
Better go and tell people not to buy that property and let Sunway burn fingers. Better if resident orso watch farmers not to cut trees and vegetation to plant musang king durian trees above 250 and 25 slope


Property bubbles bursting than less crazy pursuit of hillside condos to the delights of Sg Sea worrying residents … Simple as that why must associate views from different angles with tokong worshipping?


The reality is people are suffering from price hike, get it?


Wise up brother calvinsankaran. Many principled people do not believe in dedak to beat escalating cost of living..


Question : Why did MBPP even appealed against the decision of the Appeals Court? This goes to show that the Penang government indeed is truly a Developers Assistance and Protection party. We used to joke that MCA is a party for towkays but sadly DAP too has lost their way and sold their souls to the Big Developers. Talk to the real estate agents and those in the know, they will tell you how close DAP, the state govt and the developers are. They will tell you that why some developers who were complete unknowns before 2008 or with no… Read more »


OK, if that’s the case then MBPP should just withdraw the approval instead of supporting the developer’s case. Of course, what LGE says and does are two different things.


you mean no fair go? many migrate down under as they get a fair go. you love cronies. see what happen when everything goes to “only one” post, ports, sugar sugar etc. still crony minded and even bigger development like forest hill , bdr Malaya and txr not big enough? many times smaller than development in pg.


Open up your eyes and smell the cronies right in front of your eyes in Penang before you talk about other states. That Penang is filled with cronies is obvious unless your eyes are closed in deep devotion to the Tokong.


Now you wake up after 50 years about cronyism. What blue saga seed has been taking on blue eye cronies. Only one sided on srate but none on central. You orso mean the ammo man to build road and tunnel is now from ammo to dap crony? You love dacing with its centralised so powder full.


Professional man but is true blue saga seed. No facts but tonnes of generalisation. Cronies? McDonald is orso crony. Open fast food everywhere. Sweden furniture orso crony opening an outlet in pg? Johor has hundreds of furniture factories and exporting Malaysian furniture overseas. Professional man knows best on cronyism and none on best practices and customer services.


Your questions can be answered by MIC. Anil is apolitical.


What this got to with MIC and politics? Since when questioning the state government has become a political issue? It is very worrying that the state now using the Bush Doctrine to browbeat the critics – if you don’t support us then you are opposing us and must be supporters of BN/UMNO and by extension, the enemy of Penang. Welcome to DAP’s very own Big Brother State!


MIC is totally subservient to Umno as it has no choice . Without this support no MIC candidate can even have a slight hope of winning. The fact is that MIC is part and parcel of a corrupted set up benefiting from stolen funds . Hopefully the voters are smart enough to totally reject all candidates from the corrupted set up. Hopefully Malaysians like calvinsankaran (first he need cold turkey treatment to be cleansed of dedak addiction) can wake up.


Professional too simple English to understand? No Wonder … ministers can think married after unwilling sex. MBPP main2 give and withdraw? Lagi best like passport case give one sided verdict in favour of ara?


Any update on Mutiara Rini, the medium cost condominium by JKP Sdn. Bhd. at Jelutong, Penang? I was told the project has stopped for sometime?


Its Animal Farm all over again.


Rules and laws are not stone cast and can be bent by humans.

Penang island over-hypped.

Stay in mainland Butterworth better choice now.


No clear definition of ‘special projects’ means no clear stand by MBPP?
Another opportunity to make more money in the interest of MBPP coffers?
Anything goes in the face of Penangites.

Yesterday, I passed by Madam Pykett, laid in a state of ruins & totally reclaimed by Nature.
I could not sense her soul, neither her laughter on a perfect Saturday afternoon.

These are prices to pay for the unsustainable pursuit of Cosmopolitan Penang Frenzied in the absence of Penang Local Plan & anything goes with ‘special projects’ interpretation.


Gerakan or PCM or MCA will capitalise on this case for their general election gimmick?


You mean it is not allowed to fight for what’s right for Penang? That DAP is above the law?


tell us who fight one mbd and get funding for pg tram? so dap is below the class? sibu gets few million for airport, perak moves airport and malacca ship copy cat.


Poor Sg Ara residents. High densed housings narrow main roads always traffic choke and flood landslide concerns. No LRT for them.