Press Statement By Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng in Komtar, George Town On 15.3.2016.
The Penang state government welcomes the Penang’s state appeals board chairman Dato Yeo Yang Poh’s assurance that billions of ringgit in compensation need not be paid by the state government as a result of disputed land development so long as any planning permission by MBPP is set aside by the Appeals Board. However Dato Yeo admitted that the Appeals Board decision is still subjected to judicial review
The Penang state government has appointed University Malaya Prof. Gurdial Singh Nijar A/L Sadu Singh and Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan to assist the Penang state government and MBPP to uphold the Appeals Board Decision so as to avoid paying huge compensation for MBPP’s decisions that reject development for land above 76 meters(250 feet) or throwing out special projects that were approved by the previous government. This follows the latest decision made by Dato Yeo Yang Poh, the Chairman of the Appeals Board, established under the Town & Country Planning Act on the Sunway Bhd case.
The Appeals Board’s decision indicated that MBPP did not need to approve the development order sought by Sunway Bhd for their land above 76 meters, that were allowed development of either 6 units per acre or 15 units per acre by the previous government. The Appeals Board also decided that compensation need not be paid by MBPP for rejecting such special projects’ application from landowners.
As this Appeals Board decision can be subject to judicial review by the High Court. Sunway Bhd and other landowners affected by this decision has 90 days to do so, Sunway Bhd has communicated to me of their intention to do so. Sunway may also seek compensation, should the Appeals Board decision be affirmed by the High Court. This gives MBPP an opportunity to overturn the special projects approved given by the previous state government without paying financial compensation.
The high-powered legal expertise of both Professor Gurdial and Datuk Ambiga will assist the state government legally when the judicial review is argued in the High Court, in what is expected to be the case of the century for planning law in Malaysia.
Two Recent High Court Cases Highlights The Potentially Huge Compensation Payout Faced By The Present Penang State Government Involving Hundreds Of Millions Of Ringgit Due To Failures Of The Previous BN State Government.
The Penang state government wishes to highlight two recent High Court cases which reveals the potentially huge compensation payout faced by the present Penang state government involving hundreds of millions of ringgit due to criminal failures of the previous BN state government.
The two recent cases involve one in Majlis Perbandaran Seberang Perai(MPSP) in 1994 known as the NEG Engineering Sdn Bhd case involving a huge RM 243 million claim whilst the second one is against the state government on a land acquisition matter in 1992 known as the Bagan Serai Housing Estate Sdn Bhd case on the present Megamall complex site in Prai, Seberang Perai. MPSP was fortunate to win the NEG Engineering Sdn Bhd case which involved an active politician who was a leader in the previous government, but there is a possibility that they may appeal. Reports have also been filed by MPSP to the police and Malaysia Anti-Corruption Commission(MACC).
Unfortunately the Penang state government lost the second case, the Megamall case, and is appealing to the Court of Appeal involving potential compensation that could be similar to NEG Engineering Sdn Bhd. This Megamall case is similar to the state government losing on another land matter in Bukit Mertajam due to an error by the previous state government, resulting in compensation of RM 29.4 million to Tang Hak Ju. The state government was forced to pay RM 14.7 million and is still trying to reclaim back the sum in courts.
Again Majlis Bandaraya Pulau Pinang(MBPP) was forced to pay RM 20 million compensation to Boustead Holdings Bhd to reduce the height of their hotel from 12 storeys approved by the previous government to 5 storeys. This RM20 million payment was made in exchange for reducing the height of the building by 7 storeys, to comply with the promise made to UNESCO, but not fulfilled by the previous government, that all buildings in the George Town Heritage area would not exceed 5 storeys or 18 meters.
The present Penang state government leaves in daily fear and nightmare of facing huge compensation payouts due to the failures of the previous BN state government that can bankrupt the state. When compensation was paid by the state government, no one offered or raised a single cent to assist us despite sweet promises made by some NGOs. The threat of bankruptcy is real. For this reason, the Penang state government has unwillingly acceded to all previous rulings made by the BN state government to avoid huge compensation payout that can bankrupt Penang.
One of the potential threats is compensation claims by landowners above 76 meters who were approved development as special projects by the previous state government, which may run up to billions of ringgit.
LIM GUAN ENG
上诉局表示槟岛市政厅无需批准Sunway Bhd在他们76公尺以上地段的发展许可。前朝政府当时批准Sunway Bhd可在这地段发展每英亩6单位或每英亩15单位。槟岛市政厅也不必因为驳回地主们在76公尺以上的此类“特别项目”作出赔偿。
由于上诉局的判决可以透过高庭作出司法审核。Sunway Bhd及其他受此判决影响的地主可在90天内寻求司法审核。Sunway Bhd已经传告我说他们有意寻求司法审核，并在高庭确认上诉局的判决之后，可能寻求索偿。这让槟岛市政厅有机会在不需赔偿的情况之下，驳回前朝州政府所批准的这些“特别项目”。
这两项案件，一项是1994年牵涉威省市政局，要求2亿4300万令吉赔偿的NEG Engineering Sdn Bhd案件；另一案件则是1992年涉及州政府在现今美嘉广场原址征地事宜的Bagan Serai Housing Estate Sdn Bhd 案件。目前威省市政局赢得了NEG Engineering Sdn Bhd案的官司。但这案件牵涉目前仍活跃政坛的前朝政府领袖，他们可能还会上诉。目前，威省市政局已经向警方及反贪委员会报案。
令人担忧的是，槟城州政府在第二项案件败诉，这项美嘉广场的案件目前在上诉庭上诉中，但可能必须作出与NEG Engineering Sdn Bhd案一样的高额赔偿。这美嘉案件与另一宗前朝政府犯错所导致赔偿2940万令吉的陈合裕案件雷同，州政府已经被迫偿还1470万令吉，目前仍尝试通过法庭索讨这笔款额。
还有，槟岛市政厅也因为前朝所批准的12楼层酒店需减少至5楼层而被迫必须赔偿2000万令吉给莫实德控股（Boustead Holdings Bhd）。这笔2000万令吉的赔偿金是用以交换减少7个楼层以符合联合国教科文的乔治市古迹区内不得再建超过5层高或超出18公尺的建筑，但是前朝政府没有履行这项要求。