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Penang to pay RM14 mil over land scam

PENANG, 5 May 2009: The Penang Government will deposit RM14 million to the High Court here, in relation to a 4.3ha land scam to avoid contempt of court.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the court had ordered the state government to deposit the amount, failing which, the applicant (landowner Tan Hak Ju) could hold it liable for contempt of court.

He said that although the case was still pending in the Court of Appeal, the High Court had, on 19 Feb, issued an order for the deposit to be paid to the court.

Speaking to reporters at his office in Komtar here today, Lim said the state government was now working out the details with state financial officer Datuk Supiah Md Yusof to settle the amount with the court.

“It is very painful for the state government to come out with such a big amount to pay for the error made by the previous (state) government,” he added.

Lim also urged his predecessor, Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon, to assist a state committee which was probing an alleged land scam.

 “These cases have caused losses to Penangites and would also affect the state’s social programmes,” he noted.

The RM14mil is about half the principal compensation amounting to about RM29 million which the High Court had ordered the state government to pay Tan.

By doing so, the state government would not need to pay interest on the amount it needed to pay Tan.

Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Minister II Dr P Ramasamy, who is overseeing the land scam investigations, said he had received a letter from Koh yesterday, in response to their (state government’s) previous letter.

“Koh stated in the letter that he would not turn up to provide information and claimed that the current state government was trying to drag the issue into a political issue,” he said, adding that only Teluk Bahang assemblyperson Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya had come forward to clarify and assist in the investigations.

However, Ramasamy said the state government would continue to send letters to those in the previous state government, including former state local government committee chairman Datuk Dr Teng Hock Nan and former deputy chief minister Datuk Seri Abdul Rashid Abdullah, urging them to turn up to assist in the investigations.

“We just want to know what happened so we can work together to reduce the compensation amount,” he said.

Last July, Lim had said that the state government could incur losses of up to about RM40mil due to negligence by the previous administration, in approving a 4.3ha plot of land to be leased to an individual. — Bernama

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