BN wanted to sell Taman Manggis to private firm in 2005, declassified papers show

Jagdeep said the previous state government did not have any intentions to build Projek Perumahan Rakyat at Taman Manggis. — Picture by KE Ooi
Jagdeep said the previous state government did not have any intentions to build Projek Perumahan Rakyat at Taman Manggis. — Picture by KE Ooi

GEORGE TOWN, March 30 — The previous Barisan Nasional (BN) state government had planned to tender out the controversial Taman Manggis land to a private developer, according to previously classified documents released by the current administration today.

In the declassified minutes of a September 28, 2005 exco meeting shown to press by state executive councillor (exco) Jagdeep Singh Deo today, then state exco Teng Chang Yeow had proposed that the remaining state land at the corner of Burmah Road and Zainal Abidin Road be developed with a mixed development project composing of shophouses and government quarters.

The minutes also recorded then-chief minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon as expressing that the land should be tendered out to a private firm due to its strategic location and to avoid the state government from having to bear the construction costs.

The state secretary was then ordered to prepare a paper on this for further consideration by the state exco.

“This clearly showed the previous state government did not have any intentions to build Projek Perumahan Rakyat (PPR) on this land,” Jagdeep said, using the Malay term for affordable housing schemes.

He then read out minutes from another meeting by the local council dated March 28, 2007 in which an application by the Federal Land Commissioner to build affordable homes on the land was rejected.

Jagdeep went on to accuse Penang Gerakan of misleading the public by releasing a memorandum with a proposal to build affordable homes on the piece of land, dated 2001.

He said Penang Gerakan had wrongly accused the current Pakatan Harapan of not carrying on with previous plans to build PPR on the land.

When contacted, Penang Gerakan secretary Oh Tong Keong pointed out that it was merely a proposal, not a concrete plan.

“If we look at the minutes, it was stated there as a proposal and that it would still be further considered,” he said.

He also said the proposed mixed development included government quarters that were meant for civil servants who are on the lower income bracket.

“The shophouses are for small enterprises and local businesses,” he claimed.

Penang Gerakan and BN leaders had linked the sale of the Taman Manggis land to current Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s purchase of his RM2.8 million house.