GEORGE TOWN: The Penang government’s announcement of the sale of state land to increase revenue has come under intense fire from Gerakan.
State Gerakan chairman Oh Tong Keong accused the state government of failing to plan the state’s development and instead resorting to selling state land to increase its revenue.
“We feel that the state government’s move to sell state land will only result in the decline of the people’s land. This clearly shows that the state government has failed to administer the state.
“We want the state government to start planning for future development to generate revenue instead of selling state land as such a move is wrong and unwise,” he said today.
In his winding-up speech at the recently-concluded state legislative assembly sitting, Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow had announced that his administration may resort to selling state land and transferring dormant land to its development arm, Penang Development Corporation (PDC), to increase revenue.
This came after Chow had said the state would be collecting less revenue this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
He had said Penang’s revenue stood at RM467.56 million last year, which was 90.06 per cent of the estimated revenue of RM519.16 million.
He had also said as of June 30 this year, the state’s total revenue was RM386.9 million, which was 76.46 per cent of the estimated revenue of RM506.02 million.
As such, Chow had said that the state would implement four main strategies to counter the reduction in revenue, one of which was the sale of state land through an open tender process.
His remark, however, drew the ire of various quarters including his political opponents, with MCA likening the Penang government, under Pakatan Harapan, to a “property developer’s party”.
Chow’s political secretary Teh Lai Heng has since come to the defence of the state government, saying that the administration had to resort to selling state land to generate revenue so that more development plans could be implemented for the benefit of the people.
“However, the fact remains that the state government’s action in selling the state lands has destroyed the very foundation of the state’s development. This will result in us becoming a poor state,” Oh countered.
He said what was important was for the state to have an effective and comprehensive strategy for rapid development in the long run.
“Take for example leaders from Gerakan, particularly former chief minister Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu, who developed Penang from a fishing village into a highly-industrialised state. He did not resort to selling state land to generate revenue for the state.
“Also, when Gerakan was in power, we did not resort to selling state land through ‘one off’ or freehold. Instead, we used the leasehold method. This meant that the lease period could be extended or stopped based on the discretion of the state.
“But in the case of the current administration, they sell the state lands ‘one off’, resulting in land dwindling as well as destroying the rights of the people. They do not have a clear vision and that is their failure,” he added.