Hill Development Projects: Putting The Record Straight From Star’s Dishonest Efforts to Rewrite History (en/cn)

Star has developed a persistent blind spot by insisting that the previous BN government did no wrong whilst the present PR state government must shoulder the entire blame for inheriting all the hill projects above 250 feet approved by the previous BN government. The Penang state government has to put the record straight from this dishonest attempt to rewrite history.

In its enthusiasm to lynch the Penang PR state government, Star has ignored the fact that the Penang PR state government did not approve any development projects above 250 feet. At the same time, the MCA-owned paper makes the startling claim that there are PR or DAP assemblymen who agree with the Star that the hills in Penang are dying under PR’s stewardship. Nothing can be further from the truth.

The present PR state government has imposed stringent guidelines on hill projects approved by the previous state government that has been worked out by an independent professional committee newly set up, headed by Oxford geotechnical engineer Dr. Gue See Saw and two other members from The Institute of Engineers Malaysia and Perbadanan Akitek Malaysia. Whilst these new hill slope guidelines have caused unhappiness amongst developers about the legality of implementing these technical guidelines retrospectively, the state government is determined to compel compliance. And yet the Star and its BN accomplices continues to tag on the Penang PR state government as pro-developer and even claim that there is a gag order imposed by the state government and MPPP on those who wish to speak out on hill projects.

This is untrue. There is no gag order imposed by the state government on any assemblyman. I have checked with MPPP President AR Patahiyah binti Ismail and she has also confirmed that no gag order was imposed except stating the reminder by the Appeals Board and the courts not to publicly discuss cases that are being heard because they are subjudice. Even MPPP Councilor Lim Mah Hui has confirmed that there was no gag order imposed on him.

There is no need to respond to personalities quoted in the Star with a partisan political background, However, I wish to refer to the suggestion made by George Aeria, a resident who had supported the PR in 2008 general elections, that the PR state government must cancel all hill projects approved previously by the BN state government.

The Penang state government does not deny there are problems caused to residents by hill development projects approved by the previous administration. But much as the state government wishes to make these problems disappear by cancelling all the hill projects approved by the previous BN government, that solution is not feasible. To cancel these projects would require huge compensation being paid out to the developers, a sum that neither MPPP nor state government can afford.

As an estimate to the possible compensatory costs involved, Boustead Holdings Bhd is making a claim of RM60 million from MPPP following a reduction of the height of its building from 12 storey to 5 storey in the George Town Heritage area to comply with the 18 meter height requirement of UNESCO World Heritage City Guidelines. Again the 12 storey height limit was approved to Boustead by the previous state government, which broke its promise to UNESCO that no such approval above 5 storey would be given.

Based on the Boustead experience, if reducing the height by a mere 12 storey to 5 storey can attract a claim of RM60 million, the state or MPPP would have to fork out hundreds of millions of ringgit or even billions to cancel all the hill projects approved by the previous administration.

This would definitely bankrupt MPPP or the state government. PR cannot behave irresponsibly to 1.6 million Penangites to allow MPPP or the state to go bankrupt. For that reason, the PR state government has taken the difficult choice to manage the hill projects approved by the previous BN government with stringent hill slope safety guidelines to ensure public safety.

We know this decision will not make existing hill slope residents like George Aeria happy. For that reason, we would respect his choice should he decide to switch back his support to BN and trust the very party that has caused the problems in the first place. George Aeria will have to think through carefully whether BN can be trusted not to approve new hill projects above 250 feet or be able to cancel existing projects BN had approved prior to 2008.

The Penang PR state government can only assure the public that we will not follow the previous BN state government’s practice of approving development projects above 250 feet. The PR state government would continue to impose stringent guidelines on hill projects previously approved as monitored by the independent professional technical hill slope committee headed by Dr Gue See Saw.

LIM GUAN ENG

—–Mandarin Version—-

槟州首席部长林冠英于2012年7月1日于光大乔治市发表声明:

斜坡发展计划:让我们摆事实讲道理, 别让《星报》的不实报道篡改历史

《星报》一直坚持在自己的盲点里写新闻,它坚持槟州前朝国阵政府没有做错事,而民联州政府必须对于前朝国阵政会批准的250尺以上斜坡发展计划负起全责。槟州政府必须摆事实讲道理,绝不让《星报》篡改历史的企图得逞。

在《星报》 汲汲营营地对槟州民联州政府进行媒体私刑时,《星报》忽略了一个事实,那就是槟州民联政府从来没有批准过任何250尺以上的斜坡发展计划。同时,这家马华拥有的报章还语不惊人死不休,声称有民联或行动党的州议员同意《星报》的报道,指在民联治理下,槟州的山坡处于垂死边缘。然而,事实胜于雄辩。

当今槟州民联政府针对前朝政府批准的斜坡发展计划,加诸了严格的指南,这项指南是由牛津地质学家Gue See Saw博士为首的独立专业委员会草拟的,成员还包括马来西亚工程师学会及绘测师机构的会员。这项新的斜坡发展指南的合法性已经引起发展商的不愉快,州政府还是决意强制性推行,要求他们恪守准则。而《星报》及国阵的同谋却继续标签槟州政府为“亲发展商”,甚至谎指州政府和槟岛市政局发出封口令,阻止任何人针对斜坡发展发表言论。

这是不确实的。州政府并没有针对任何州议员下封口令。我问过槟岛市政局主席芭达希雅,她也没有下什么封口令,她只是提醒过不要针对还在上诉庭和法庭审理的案件发表谈话,因为这将藐视法庭。就连槟岛市政议林马惠也已经确认,并没有人叫他封口。

我们不需要回应《星报》里具政党背景人士的访问。但是,我想回应一名曾在2008年大选支持民联的人士George Aeria的访谈。那就是民联州政府必须撤销国阵政府所批准的所有斜坡计划。

槟州政府不否认,前朝政府批准的斜坡发展计划对居民造成许多不便。尽管州政府也希望撤消所有国阵政府批准的斜坡发展计划,一劳永逸解决所有问题,但是,这个方法行不通。如果我们取消所有斜坡发展计划,我们必须付出天文字数的赔偿金给发展商,这是槟岛市政局或州政府都负担不起的。

让我们在估计所涉及的赔偿金,莫实得控股公司正要求槟岛市政局赔偿6000万令吉,因此市政局要求它们遵守联合国世界文化遗产指南(建筑物不能超过18公尺高),将12层楼的建筑物,降低高度成为5层楼建筑物。12层楼建筑物是前朝政府批准莫实达的工程,它们已经违反本身对联合国科教文组织的承诺,不会批准超过5层楼高的建筑工程。

根据莫实达的经验,仅仅是叫他们把高度从12层楼降低至5层楼,我们就得赔款6000万令吉,如果要州政府或市政局取消所有的斜坡发展计划,那么我们岂不是要拿出一笔天文数字的赔款?

这肯定会让市政局或州政府破产。民联政府对160万槟州人民不能如此不负责任,让市政局及州政府破产。因为,我们在面临两难的情况下,选择了采用严格的斜坡管理准则,管理国阵政府所批准的斜坡发展计划,以确保公共安全。

我们知道这样的选择,将让George Aeria这样的现有斜坡居民不快。如果他因此决定重新支持国阵、信任这个问题的始作俑者,我们也尊重他的决定。George Aeria必须想清楚:国阵是否值得信任,是否会不批准250尺以上的新斜坡计划,是否会取消他们在2008年之前所批准的一切斜坡发展计划。

槟州民联政府只能向人民保证,我们绝不会像前朝国阵政府那样,批准 250尺以上的斜坡计划。民联州政府会继续采用由独立专业的斜坡发展委员会所草拟的斜坡发展与管理指南,严格监督前朝政府所批准的斜坡发展计划。

林冠英

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