Condemns The Star For Not Respecting Freedom of the Press By Fully Publishing My Reply To Joceline Tan’s Column On 30 July 2017. This violates a fundamental principle of Freedom of The Press Namely A Right Of Reply. In the public interest, I will release my reply in full to allow the true story to emerge on the so-called controversy over the “50, Love Lane” property.(e/c)

Press Statement By Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng In Komtar, George Town On 2.8.2017.

The Star’s Joceline Tan typically mixes her usual staple of innuendo with half-truths to cast a negative light against the Penang state government in her Sunday column on 30 July 2017 under the heading, “Political standoff over 50, Love Lane”. The so-called controversy revolves around the refusal of the Penang Chinese Clans Association (PCCA) to obey the rule of law, in the transfer of the property at 50, Love Lane.

PCCA Chairman Chang Wei Lu has instead chosen the road of public confrontation against the state government, even though the state government has fully fulfilled its promises to transfer the property for a land premium set at a nominal sum of RM1. Such public confrontation and attack against the state government may not be surprising, when those who are openly pro-BN are also in PCCA, such as PCCA deputy president Lim Mee Lee.

To give a short background, this dilapidated Love Lane property was connected to the Ghee Hin society, vested by court order in 1909 under the name of trustees. The trustees are naturally now all deceased. The property has a long backlog of unpaid assessment duties and quit rent. The Penang state government even had to spend a substantial sum of money to prop up the dilapidated building to prevent it from collapsing.

PCCA wanted the property transferred to their name, claiming a connection with Ghee Hin through their ownership of another Ghee Hin property, Meng Eng Soo in Jalan Pintal Tali. The state government was agreeable. During discussions between myself and Chang, the state government had agreed to the proposal to confiscate the property and hand it over to PCCA.

However, Chang failed to tell me that PCCA did not own Meng Eng Soo in Jalan Pintal Tali, which was still in the name of another set of different long dead trustees. In other words, even though PCCA was operating Meng Eng Soo, it was not the legal owner. Legally, this changes the whole equation as the legal nexus of connected property ownership, with PCCA as the owner of Meng Eng Soo and by extension the Love Lane property, is broken.

The state government does not blame Chang for failing to tell us that PCCA does not own Meng Eng Soo, because he may not have realised its legal significance. But why then is he peeved and blaming the state government, when the state government is not the cause for this legal complication?

The state government cannot just do as it wishes, by simply transferring over the property to PCCA, unless we can prove some sort of legal connexion. That is what we sought to do to seek documents from PCCA’s lawyers, to comply with land laws as a government that abides with the rule of law.

Unfortunately, Chang threw a public tantrum when we requested that PCCA send its lawyers to furnish some documentation legal or otherwise, to see how the state government can conduct the transfer of the property legitimately. Chang initially refused to even send his lawyers to meet with our Land Office, even though this is standard legal practice in any transfer of property, as anyone who has purchased a property can attest that a lawyer is needed.

Never at any time did the state government refused to transfer the property to PCCA or intended to profit from the transfer as claimed by BN. BN’s lies were disproved when an official letter was sent to PCCA setting out the RM1 nominal land premium to transfer the property, together with request for furnishing documentation.

What then is so difficult about furnishing documentation to see how we can effect the transfer of property legally? Instead, Chang took a decidedly political turn by openly and continually attacking the state government. Joceline Tan reported that Chang is organising a dinner next week, where he will fully relate the background to the issue, the threats against him as well as a smear campaign including his alleged love affair.

This is the first time that he is talking about threats to his safety and a smear campaign of his alleged love affair. If true, Chang should either lodge a police report and file a defamation suit. This is the type of scandalous reporting filled with innuendos that has got Joceline Tan into trouble in the past. Lest she forgets, ‘The Star’ newspaper has publicly apologised to me in their newspaper and withdrew what she wrote about me in her columns in the past.

For these reasons, the state government has decided that this matter be handled officially, strictly between their lawyers and our Land Office. We believe that the transfer of property can be still be effected through rational discussions with their lawyers, though it may take some time.

Despite that, Chang is still looking for a fight with the state government for reasons best known to itself. Chang may have obtained some backing from BN, but as a state government that upholds the rule of law, we will not be bullied. Let history judge us as a government that respects the rule of law, whatever price we may have to pay.

LIM GUAN ENG
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槟州首席部长林冠英于2017年8月2日在乔治市光大发表文告:

谴责星报不尊重新闻自由因为没有允许原文照登我回应Joceline Tan 2017年7月30日专栏的文章。这有违基础新闻自由中的回应权。在公众利益之下,我在此发表原文全文,以昭告公众所谓“爱情巷50号产业”争议中的真正来胧去脉。

星报专栏作者Joceline Tan在2017年7月30日的专栏中,以“爱情巷50号中的政治对峙”为题,洋洋洒洒书写了一篇长文。她在文中故伎重施,以虚中带实,实中带虚的暗喻方式,对槟州政府制造负面的印象。文章提及所谓的“争议”,其实皆环绕在槟州各姓氏宗联委在移交爱情巷50号产业一事上,拒绝遵从法治。

在这起事件上,即便槟州政府愿意以1令吉象征性的地价转移有关产业,但宗联委主席张威如仍选择与州政府公开叫囂。对于他们这样与州政府公开对峙与攻击,并不叫人感到意外,看看宗联委的行列大概就会看出一个端倪,里面不乏有人公开地支持国阵,宗联委的副主席林民利就是其一。

给各位做个简单的背景介绍,爱情巷里的这间破旧老屋,隶属当年的义兴,法院在1909年将之判予一群信托人管理。随着岁月的流逝,当年的信托人皆已不在人世,致使有关产业积欠了多年的门牌税地税。由于老屋年久失修,槟州政府也付出了大笔的款项来支撑老屋,确保这栋老房子不会突然崩塌下来。

宗联委以拥有位于义福街的名英祠为由,认为与义兴有所关联,因此要求将爱情巷50号转移到他们名下。槟州政府并无反对,在我和张威如讨论时,州政府亦同意取回有关产业,再交给宗联委的建议。

无论如何,张威如没有告诉我的是,原来义福街上的名英祠并不在宗联委的名下,而是在另一组信托人的名下,而那些信托人早已离世。换句话说,宗联委虽然在接管名英祠,但它并不是合法的业主。在法律上,这事实已改变了各相关产业的法律连结,即作为名英祠的拥有者,宗联委有权接管爱情巷产业的连结,已经被打破了。

槟州政府不是在责怪张威如没有告诉我们宗联委不是名英祠业主的事实,也许,张威如本身也晓得这件事的法律意义。既然州政府不是这个法律问题的始作俑者,那为何他还要对州政府咄咄相逼?

除非我们能够找到充分的法律关联性,否则州政府不能够为所欲为,随意将产业过户予宗联委。这也是为什么我们要和对方律师见面,寻找出符合土地法的相关文件,服膺于州政府的法治精神。

不幸的是,当我们要求宗联委委派律师处理并提供合法文件,以便让州政府依法行事,转移相关产业权之际,张威如却公开大发脾气,甚至一度拒绝委派律师来与土地局的官员见面。君不见,即便是一般的产业权转移亦需要律师来处理,这不过是一个标准的法律作业。

州政府从不如国阵所说,拒绝转移有关产业予宗联委,或打算脱手谋利。我们已正式送出公函予宗联委,阐明将以1令吉的象征性地价转移有关产业,同时要求提供相关的文件证明。国阵的谎言已不攻自破。

提供文件来让我们依法处理产业转移真的有那么难?张威如对州政府的处处挞伐与攻击,在在显示他已选择在政治上靠边站。根据Joceline Tan的报道,张威如将在下星期举办一项晚宴,届时他将向众出席者报告有关事件、其所面临的威胁,还有他在情场上的事迹如何遭抹黑。

这也是他第一次谈及其人身安全受到威胁,还有其情场事迹遭人抹黑。如果一切属实,张威如应该报警处理,同时起诉相关人士诽谤之罪。类似这种丑闻式的影射报道,过去曾经让Joceline Tan惹上麻烦。别忘记,星报之前曾经在报纸上公开向我道歉,并撤回她在专栏上对我所写的东西。

职是之故,州政府决定严正以待,让对方委派律师与土地局的官员商谈。我们相信,尽管过程可能会耗上一些时间,但相关产业的转移,将能够透过和对方律师理性讨论而得到落实。

虽然如此,张威如还是处处对州政府见缝插针,箇中原因,只有他自己知晓。张威如或许拥有国阵作为靠山,但作为一个秉持法治精神的州政府,我们将不会让步,即便会付出再大的代价,我们也在所不辞。且让历史来评断这个尊重法治的政府吧。

林冠英

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