‘Butterworth air base land-swap shrouded in secrecy’

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Lim Guan Eng said the land-swap deal between the air force and a developer would not be approved if it does not benefit the public

Leven Woon, FMT

The Penang government will not approve the Royal Malaysian Air Force’s RM13 billion land-swap deal with a private developer if it does not benefit people, chief minister Lim Guan Eng said today.

The agreement inked in February saw the air force surrendering its 400ha base in Butterworth in exchange for a parcel of land owned by TSR Capital, which has yet to be identified.

TSR, Armed Forces Funds Board (LTAT) and Bumiputera-owned Pembinaan Bukit Timah would jointly develop the old air base into an integrated mixed project with a potential gross development value of RM10 billion.

TSR would also be granted the RM3 billion contract to build a new air force base.

Lim told reporters at Parliament lobby today that the agreement was shrouded in secrecy and its intention raised doubts.

He said both the Penang government, which had jurisdiction over state land and Tasik Gelugor Umno division chief Shabudin Yahya were not informed about the deal.

He added that Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein should explain how the deal would benefit the country.

“The state government will only approve the deal if it benefits the public,” he said.

TSR informed Bursa Malaysia in February that it had obtained the federal government’s approval to redevelop the air base as part of the land-swap deal.

TSR will hold 51% stake in the joint venture project, while LTAT and PBT will hold the remaining 30% and 19% respectively.