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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Jeff Ooi to reveal evidence of 'fraud' in 2007 project

Jelutong parliamentarian Jeff Ooi will reveal evidence of alleged fraud in a development project in Penang which dates back to 2007, before Pakatan Rakyat took over the state government.

At a press conference today, Ooi said he will provide the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) with the name of the person involved and documents related to the matter.

jeff ooi interview 111208Ooi (left) added that he had questioned the officer, who was attached to the Penang Municipal Council in 2009, but did not get a response.

Four MACC personnel had visited Ooi's office in Jelutong at noon today to question him on the matter, following a report lodged with the commission by Parti Cinta Malaysia (PCM) national Youth chief Liew Yeow Hooi last month.

Ooi said that, in 2007, the land in question had been gazetted by the state planning committee (SPC) to build only landed properties.

However, individuals had lobbied for the site to enable development of high-rise apartments instead, he said.

“When this happened the technical committee was asked to study the social and traffic implications and go back to the SPC for approval,” he said.

“However, the technical committee headed by an official in the Penang Municipal Council did not follow up with the matter and the developer was allowed to build high-rise apartments without approval from the SPC.”

Ooi also raised doubts about the integrity of the state government housing unit's list of applicants for low-medium cost housing, as recently displayed in Komtar.

Initially he had difficulty in getting the list and said he felt that the officials in the housing unit had “snubbed” his request.

NONEHaving exhausted all avenues, he had to eventually send his staff members to take photos of the list on display.

He claimed that he had send two reminders to the housing unit but did not obtain a response until he informed them that he would be “cooperating” with the MACC today.

The issues, he said, have been brought up with Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng (left) and state DAP chief Chow Kon Yeow.

“The list did not state who obtained the houses. This brings into question the transparency of the selection process within the unit,” he said.

'Irregularities' detected

Ooi also referred to Ops LMC (low-medium cost homes) which he organised in August, during which he collected information on 223 families who are in dire need of housing.

The list displayed by Wong Hon Wai, state executive council member in charge of housing, on Sept 21, showed that 195 people were offered LMC housing.

However, upon close scrutiny, Ooi said only 149 had been offered houses.

“We are puzzled as to why the (remaining) 46 applicants were not announced. Are they meant for the open market when LMC units are controlled by the government?”

Ooi said he detected nine out of 40 names of those on squatter list who have not signed the contract but received housing units, and will provide their names to MACC.

He also found in the list names of seven signatories who received 46 units, which he deemed "highly irregular", saying it was a problem which needs to be addressed soon.

He complained of cases where new applicants have received "preferential treatment" when they were offered housing units within two to six months, when others have waited very long.

"There were also incidents where those who are only 21 years old - five cases - were offered houses when those who waited 30 years (did not).

"Then there are cases where people have rejected their offers about three times but were reconsidered for another project very quickly, instead giving these to those who have waited long.

"And on the website of the housing unit, a person whose spouse already has a LMC was offered another when the policy is very clear that this cannot happen.”

Ooi also questioned why the selection of applicants was conducted by only two top ranking officers from the housing unit and did not include a committee to ensure transparency.

"Problems would arise if this task and responsibility is delegated to only two persons without scrutiny," he said, adding that he received information about brokers who offered cash in exchange of units.

Explanations offered

In an immediate response, Wong said 30 of the 46 remaining units involved pending information from Batu Lanchang assemblyperson Danny Law, while 16 involved incomplete copies.

He said the housing unit had already detected that the seven signatories were offered 46 homes and had reduced it to seven (one each) at a meeting on Aug 24.

wong hon wai ala wang han weiOn the number of representatives in the selection unit, Wong (right) said this is the normal practice. He has attended the meetings but did not interefere in the selection process.

On allegations of preferential treatment , Wong said that priority is given to those facing eviction and who are squatters.

"Ooi has to improve his teamwork with others. He has problems talking with other colleagues and seem to have communication issues with civil servants, where he used to send them harsh letters.

"We are often bogged down by these claims. I am afraid Ooi had made some promises to his constituency and is trying to find fault with us (when he cannot fulfill them).

"I hope that my colleagues in the state government will help me resolve this issue, which is actually an internal dispute. Our communication channel is not as smooth as we (would like it to be).”

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