Chin Tong, your own boss negotiated land swaps through the backdoor

Following is an article published by The Malay Mail Online complete with responses by TTF (in blue):

KUALA LUMPUR: Deputy Defence Minister Liew Chin Tong said today he welcomed Putrajaya’s move to halt the practice of land sales for development funding.

TTF: Strange, considering that you never once had anything to say when it was pointed out that your boss, Lim Guan Eng, swapped ‘half’ of Penang Island and reclaimed large parcels land to the detriment of fishermen just to fund development projects.

Liew said he learned that academics have made the land swap deal involving the Tebrau Army Camp as a reference to students for bad negotiations.

TTF: Publish the details

He made the assertion after a visit to the Armed Forces camp in Tebrau, Johor, earlier today.

The camp is in poor condition due to lack of funding since the previous administration had yet to determine if it should be vacated to the Skudai camp.

“The purpose of my visit is to understand the conditions of the Tebrau Camp, which lacks funds for maintenance as there is no clear direction whether the camp should be vacated for the proposed Skudai Camp or not,” the DAP senator said in a posting on Facebook.

Work for the Skudai Army Camp started in the 1990s and was scheduled to be completed in the early 2000s.

“In general land swap is very problematic as a way to finance development. The government is often shortchanged by collusion between politicians and parties with vested interest,” he wrote.

TTF: Again, it is strange that you should say this now considering that your boss is a mastermind in the business of land swaps.

He was a great liar too.

For instance, on the 12th of January 2018, he told newsmen that Penang never paid a sen for feasibility studies related to the scandalised RM6.3 billion Penang undersea tunnel project.

According to him, the state only swapped two pieces of land worth RM1,300 psf for 3.7 acres of land at a cost of RM208 million.

He stressed that the land swap was for work done on the three highways and not the undersea tunnel.

However, on the same day, TTF posted:

1. The RM209mil payment to the Penang Tunnel Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) company for the consultancy studies for the 3 roads consist of two plots of state land.

2. The first payment was a plot of seaside state land valued at RM135mil and was transferred to the SPV on 17th February 2015.

3. The SPV then went into a joint-venture with a listed company to develop this land on a 60-40 basis with the SPV holding a 40% interest. The Joint venture (JV) is for the development of a luxury condominium project comprising of two blocks of 40 storey buildings totaling 572 condo units where each unit is priced at RM1,200psf and above.

The gross development value of this condo project has been reported to be RM800 million.

4. The JV then applied to the Majlis Bandaraya Pulau Pinang (MBPP) for planning permission on 9th March 2015. The planning division of MBPP then gave its approval within 8 days even though it’s standard approval period (Piagam) is 108 days.

5. It was calculated that the approval given had also raised the development density to 156 units per acre from the 30 units per acre limit that had previously been in effect in that area several years ago.

6. Checks at the luxury condo project site showed that construction has already started – despite none of the 3 highways having started construction – a delay of at least 3 1/2 years.

But your boss was adamant.

Despite the scales tipping heavily towards corruption, he insisted that the state did not pre-sell or swap parcels other than the first 3.7 acres for the whole RM6.3 billion project.

According to him, the two pieces of land covering 3.7 acres were swapped to pay for the completed environmental impact assessment (EIA) reports for the three highways which he added were submitted to the Department of Environment.

“We will pay for the whole project through more land swaps in future but we’ve not done that yet because project is not completed,” he said.

To this, TTF added:

The land in question is a 50 acre piece of land of Gurney Drive that is supposed to be given as payment to the Penang Tunnel Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) once they have completed building the 3 roads portion of the project.

This land is currently being reclaimed by another private company but contractually, they have to surrender this land to the State Government.

It is thus a land rights. Rights under law as well as accounting is considered an asset and has value – it is as good as real land when the reclamation is complete.

As of today in Jan 2018, the SPV has not even started construction of any of the roads, hence by right the land or land rights does not belong to them yet. They can only claim full ownership of the 50 acres one they have satisfactorily completed all 3 roads. 

However, in partnership with a listed company, the SPV announced a RM15 billion GDV project on this land on 13 August 2015 with the Penang Chief Minister as a witness.…/consortium-zenith-inked…

And on 16th January 2016, the SPV company signed to sell the full 50 acres to a subsidiary of the listed company for a total of RM2.83 billion (okay, not exactly RM3 billion as reported by The Star). The Penang CM was also a witness at this signing too.…/ewein-subsidiary-acquires-l…/and here:…/eweins-unit-buys-50-acres-land-pe…

This 50 acres land transaction was also announced to Bursa Malaysia by the listed company:…/company-announcements/4976409

The presence of the Chief Minister in both the project announcement and the signing of the sale of land may be construed as tacit endorsement, if not approval.

Around this prized 50 acres of prime sea-side land, the Penang Govt had also announced RM8 billion worth of projects to be funded at their own cost including the Gurney Wharf project, an 8 line road which they said will cost RM400mil and a 19.5km Pan-Island Link highway to connect to the airport at a cost of RM7.5 billion (or a massive RM385mil per km).

All of these infrastructure announced and to be paid for by the Penang State Govt is expected to significantly add value to the 50 acres land which is 100% private owned while the state govt has no stake in there at all.

Guan Eng didn’t even have the guts to respond when asked to explain.

Yet today, you’re talking helluva lot about land swaps being problematic.

Are you an imbecile?  

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said land sales as a means to finance development will be decoupled as part of policies announced under Budget 2019.


Source: The Malay Mail Online

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