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10 APRIL 2024

Friday, November 30, 2012

Taman Manggis Fiasco

Taman Manggis Fiasco
I had urged both the DAP led Penang state government and the Penang Barisan Nasional not to politicize the Taman Manggis land. Taman Manggis, a small 1.1 acre plot of land previously earmarked for low cost housing was originally sold to the Kuala Lumpur International Dental Centre to build and operate a private hospital.
Penang BN had accused the state government for selling below the market price. Political secretary to the Chief Minister Ng Wei Aik sent an offer letter to the Penang BN to sell the land for RM22 million.
Penang BN representative Oh Tong Keong and his delegation went to the state administrative office to pay a 1% booking fee and he was given a month to settle the rest of the amount. The period was extended to 3 months after much hue and cry over the S&P completion period.
The state government was accused of selling a land it does not own since KLID had pledged the land to a financial institution. Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng insisted that the state government is still the rightful owner of the land. His office has circulated a letter from KLID purportedly allowing the state government to sell the land to another party as long as the state government agrees to defray their cost and legal expenses.
On the Penang BN side, the matter took another embarrassing twist after Khoo Boo Soon, director of Taman Manggis Phase II Development said that the company was a private entity and not interested in playing politics.
His statement was in major conflict with the state BN's campaign to acquire the land for public housing.
Khoo has indicated that his company intends to price the units at approximately RM400 per sqft; putting the units beyond the reach of most low income families in the state. With a limit of 87 units per acre fixed by the local authority, the project is not expected to achieve anything more than 90 units.
Khoo was ticked off by Penang BN chief Teng Chang Yeow who insisted that Khoo is not authorized to decide on the type of housing to be constructed.
The whole episode is a mess for politicians from both sides of the divide.
Again, Teng is barking at the wrong tree. He is still disputing whether the state government or KLID is the actual seller. Does it matter? The most important thing is there is an interested seller at RM22 million for the 1.1 acre land. If the financial backers pull out, it is going to be huge embarrassment for Teng and Penang BN.
On the other hand, it appears to me that the DAP led government is more concerned about scoring political points than securing the interest of the people. The government should have retracted the sale once it is evident that KLID has failed to obtain an approval to set up a private hospital. The land is reserved for low cost housing.
It is ridiculous to suggest that low income earners should not be allowed to stay in the city centre. It is crude and irresponsible to suggest that low cost housing scheme may turn the city centre into a slump and drag down real estate value around the area.
Taman Manggis should not be used as a battle zone for both Pakatan and BN. They should take their battles to the ballot boxes.
Perhaps it would be better for the challenger Teng Chang Yeow to face the incumbent CM Lim Guan Eng in a public debate on who has a better plan and vision for Penang. It would be more productive than getting entangled in the Taman Maggis fiasco.

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