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GEORGE TOWN, March 29 ― The Penang government will declassify documents surrounding the sale of the controversial Taman Manggis land tomorrow, state executive councillor Jagdeep Singh Deo announced today.
The housing and town and country planning committee chairman said the documents will explain the state’s reasons to swap out the parcel of land that was initially earmarked for affordable public housing for a mixed development project.
“We will reveal these documents after it is declassified by the state exco tomorrow as these are exco meeting minutes,” he told a news conference here.
The Pakatan Harapan state administration has been facing heat over allegations it deprived the people of public housing by selling off the Taman Manggis land.
“I wish to point out here that a memo dated July 1, 2003 on a proposal to build 160 units of public housing on the 1,251 acres of land was replaced by a new proposal for a mixed development in 2005,” he said.
Recently, Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders linked Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng's purchase of his RM2.8 million house to the sale of the Taman Manggis land to Kuala Lumpur International Dental Centre (KLIDC) to build a private hospital at the site.
Last Friday, a demonstration by BN youth leaders and several local non-governmental organizations was held at Burmah Road in front of Taman Manggis, accusing the state government of selling off land meant for public housing.
They demanded that the Penang state government build public housing for 272 poor families as a replacement in the state's affordable housing project at Jalan SP Chelliah.
Jagdeep responded by pointing out that the building of public housing is under the federal government's purview.
Instead, he demanded answers from Putrajaya on the low number of public housing projects approved for Penang.
“For the record, Penang is amongst the states with the lowest number of public housing units built by the federal government,” he said.
Jagdeep cited the total public housing projects for Penang at only four with a total of 999 units.
This is low compared to 1,828 units for Perlis, 3,622 units for Kedah, 1,274 units for Perak, 5,072 units for Pahang, 11,995 units for Johor, 24,261 units for Sabah and 34,862 units for Kuala Lumpur.
The only other state with less that 1,000 public housing units is Labuan with 500 units.
“The Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak in his 2016 Budget speech announced that the public housing scheme will be continued with an allocation of RM863 million to build 22,300 flat units and 9,800 terrace houses nationwide,” he said.
He wants Putrajaya to reveal the number of units that will be built in Penang from the total units announced.