The Island Hospital Penang mega project on Peel Avenue is regarded as a foreign investment, and as such, it does not need to be subjected to the open tender system, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said today.
Lim said this applied to multinational companies, such as the electronics factories that the state wants to invite to invest in Penang.
Building a hospital is a massive undertaking, he said, and the Island Hospital has invested RM2 billion in the project, which would be completed in five years.
Lim added that the firm had to go through rigorous procedures in order to secure a licence from the Health Ministry to operate in Malaysia.
“The state felt that as Penang was offered such a massive investment from a reputable company with the needed financial resources, we treated it like a foreign investment, as there was also foreign money injected in the project,” Lim said.
“This investment is akin to the multinational companies, like Intel and many others, for not many can come up with an RM2 billion investment,” he added, when asked why the project was not subjected to the open tender system.
Non-disclosure agreement signed
Asked why the state did not announce the project until it was questioned by the opposition and NGOs, Lim said: "We respect and will continue to observe the non-disclosure agreement” signed between the state and company."
“We cannot make the announcement on our own. The investors will find an appropriate time to do it, and it was scheduled for today.
“If we make announcements due to political reasons, investors will not have confidence in us. It is also a listed company, and would have to follow procedures, such as informing Bursa Malaysia on this development,” he added.
“We will not be dictated by political games played by irresponsible parties.”
Penang Gerakan and NGOs have been harping on why there was no open tender for the sale of state land, and why the plot, which is owned by Chief Minister Incorporated, was sold to Island Hospital, which considers itself a leading medical tourism hub in Southeast Asia.
At its press conference in Komtar today, Island Hospital director Benny Lim said the project would see the 300-bed hospital increase its beds to 1,000 when the project is completed in five years.
He added that the hospital project is situated on a 6.4-acre land that has been leased for a long-term period (99 years) for RM156 million. There is another plot adjacent to this land, which is owned by the hospital.
“This project will provide Penang with more than 2,000 job opportunities. The economic value of the project is expected to exceed RM7 billion, with benefits spilled to other industries,” said Benny Lim, who is based in Singapore.
Based in Penang and founded in 1996, Island Hospital is currently funded by a Singapore enterprise.
It has been awarded the Top Medical Tourism Hospital by Malaysian Health Travel Council and the Medical Tourism Hospital of the Year 2017 by Frosts and Sullivan, under its Best Practices Award.- Mkini