KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 27 ― Kedah Mentri Besar Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor has reportedly demanded that his state be paid RM100 million every year for the “lease” of its land to Penang, instead of the RM10 million that the federal government has been paying since 2018.
News portal Free Malaysia Today quoted Sanusi as wanting the annual payment to be increased by RM90 million for the alleged lease of the Penang island and Seberang Perai land.
“This is a small amount for the federal government, I believe. And Penang has high revenue,” he was quoted saying by the portal.
The portal also quoted Sanusi as saying that the federal government’s decision in 2018 to increase the annual payment to RM10 million from the initial RM10,000 was due to the Kedah sultan having raised the matter at the Conference of Rulers.
Free Malaysia Today also reported Sanusi as saying that the annual payment to Kedah should be more than the RM100 million figure as the alleged land lease value was purportedly at least RM500 million, but he was also cited saying that the Kedah state government could accept settling for around RM300 million in annual payments.
Sanusi was also reported saying that the Valuation and Property Services Department (JPPH) under the Finance Ministry should be brought in to determine the actual value of the alleged land lease.
This is not the first time that the issue of Penang allegedly being on land leased by Kedah has cropped up.
National news agency Bernama had in 2015 previously reported that the Kedah sultanate had leased Penang island to the British in 1791 for 6,000 Spanish Dollars and Seberang Perai in 1800 for 4,000 Spanish Dollars, and that the federal government had continued to pay RM10,000 annually to Kedah after the states of then Malaya gained independence.
Previously in 2017, Kedah state executive council member Datuk Mohd Rawi Abdul Hamid was reported claiming that Penang is still on land leased from Kedah, citing the RM10,000 payment made annually to Kedah.
Mohd Rawi was reported saying then that the Kedah state government had informed the federal government of its decision to reclaim Penang.
Penang’s Tanjong MP Ng Wei Aik had in 2017 however said that the Kedah government bid to claim ownership over Penang violates the Federal Constitution which recognises Penang as a state, asserting that Penang is no longer land leased from Kedah.
Ng had also said the RM10,000 annual payment is not made by the Penang state government, but is instead part of the federal government’s budget.
Based on the Dewan Rakyat’s Hansard records on August 8, 2018, then finance minister Lim Guan Eng had said that the prime minister had in chairing the National Economic Council on June 7, 2018 expressed the intention for the federal government to review a special annual payment of RM10,000 to Kedah.
Lim had said the Cabinet had on July 4, 2018 agreed for the federal government to allocate a special contribution payment of RM10 million per year to the Kedah state government to be paid starting from 2018.
Lim had said this special annual payment of RM10 million was an unilateral undertaking by the federal government, with this sum to be reviewed once every 10 years on in a period considered suitable.
Lim had said the special payment of RM10,000 to Kedah would at the same time be continued, and that such annual payment by the federal government was provided for under the Federal Constitution’s Article 167(7).
Lim was responding to a question then from Kedah’s Jerlun MP Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir on whether the federal government agrees to review the “land lease value” of Penang which allegedly did not match current property values or whether the federal government would compensate the state of Kedah.
On September 21 this year, local newspaper Berita Harian had reported Sanusi as claiming in the Kedah state legislative assembly that Penang was not a state that exists on its own, quoting him as claiming Penang to be a state leased from Kedah based on Malaysia’s history.