Press Statement By Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng In Komtar, George Town On 7.1.2018.
Penang is the first state government in Malaysia to implement the practice of open competitive tenders, an achievement that earned commendation from Transparency International(TI). Irresponsible elements ignore this excellent record when trying to run down and smear the state government’s image that there is no open tender system.
Open competitive tender system is one of the mainstays of CAT governance in Penang of competency, accountability and transparency, that has allowed the state government to record savings in expenditures. Open competitive tender system is one of the principal factors that led to annual Budget surpluses since 2008, a doubling of our asset reserves and a record 90% reduction of state government debt that allows Penang to have the lowest debts in the country.
Open competitive tenders have allowed the state government to turn around projected deficit budgets to actual budget surpluses. In the 2015 Auditor-General’s Report, the state government completed 99.75% of projects yet only spent 55% of the budgeted expenditures. One of the principal causes of savings is the pricing of projects that is sometimes 30% below estimates.
What is sad is that when Malay contractors secure 90% of contracts under the open competitive tenders, these irresponsible elements racialise the issue by stating that I am anti-Chinese because Malays get most of the tenders. And yet I am accused of being anti-Malay because the practice of open tenders is supposed to disadvantage and marginalise Malay contractors.
The exceptions for the implementation of open competitive tenders would be urgent projects in cases of natural disasters, emergencies or economic development strategies. As an industrial state, Penang requires investment in manufacturing, medical tourism and services sector to power economic growth in Penang.
Sales of land are sold direct to qualified companies in these sectors, which was done not only under this government but also the previous state government, since the industrialisation drive begun under the late Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu in 1970. Land is sold directly to these companies to attract tens of billions of US$ in investment that generate economic opportunities and create hundred thousands of jobs.
Even the sale of 2.5ha of prime land along Peel Avenue near Pulau Tikus in late 2016, to Island Hospital Group is at a price above the market value, to attract a RM2 billion investment to build the largest private hospital in Malaysia. The 1,000 bed private hospital would help to strengthen Penang’s leading position as the largest medical tourism market in Malaysia.
Therefore, claims that the state government sold off about 2,180 hectares of land with most done without open tenders, is baseless and false. In fact Penang is proud of our record of getting the best value for our land with the requisite investment to power economic growth and create jobs.
LIM GUAN ENG
——Mandarin Version —