Is Lim Guan Eng running Penang Berhad or Penang State Government?

Khoo Kay Peng

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng did it again. After the controversial sale of Bayan Mutiara prime land to private developer linked to Danny Tan and Vincent Tan, he is involved in the RM11mil sale of a 0.4ha land in Taman Manggis, which was previously earmarked for affordable housing.

The Taman Manggis land, which Barisan claimed to have been earmarked for affordable housing by the previous state government, was instead proposed by the present administration for a private medical centre.

Barisan had also contended that the land at the junction of Jalan Zainal Abidin-Lorong Selamat had been sold to the Kuala Lumpur International Dental Centre at RM232 per sq ft or RM11mil, far below the market price of RM450 per sq ft or RM21,562,200.

In an immediate response, Lim said the land had been awarded via open tender to the bidder with the highest price.

The main point is not whether the land is being sold to the bidder with the highest price. There are several other considerations:

1) Why would the state government sold a land earmarked for affordable housing to a private business group?

2) The present government affordable housing scheme is flawed. It is not about just providing low cost housing but the state must take cognizance not to push out the working class and lower middle class from the island. A few people remarked to me that Penang island is soon becoming a place for the rich locals and foreigners. Workers enclave must be created near to economic hubs/areas on the island and not only on the mainland. 

3) Using the highest price to justify a sale of land earmarked for affordable housing makes Lim sounds like a CEO of a private company who is just interested to make the highest profit. Is Lim now being overly business friendly and neglecting the interests of 70% lower-middle class Penangites?