Statement by Lim Guan Eng in Georgetown, Penang on Wednesday, 15th
The new Penang state government has no plans to follow the previous BN
state government's policy of circumventing the National Land Code (NLC)
by converting all reclaimed land from leasehold to freehold status
The new Penang state government has no plans
to follow the previous state government's policy of circumventing the
NLC by converting all reclaimed land from leasehold to freehold status.
Under Section 76 of the NLC a state authority cannot dispose of "any
part of the foreshore or sea-bed for a period exceeding ninety-nine
years." In other words the NLC expressly prohibits the state authority
from converting foreshore land to freehold to protect and reserve
coastal areas for public interest.
However I have been advised that after reclamation, there is no more
seabed and foreshore, and therefore it is within the state's right to
give private individuals freehold status for such areas. In other words,
once a particular area is reclaimed, the foreshore and seabed cease to
exist factually, physically and legally. The new government will not
choose to exercise its powers to convert reclaimed land to freehold.
Whilst I disagree with the previous state government's arbitrary policy
of converting reclaimed land to freehold, we have been advised by both
the lawyers and consultants with the Penang Development Corporation(PDC)
and the State Legal Advisor that
• this conversion is legally valid as it
was gazetted as state land and no longer as foreshore land;
• the state government has to comply
with the consent order directed by the Penang High Court to give
effect to a "scheme of arrangement" to rescue the Bayan Bay project
with a package that included converting what was once seabed and
foreshore into a reclaimed land that has been converted to freehold.
• All the parties involved had exercised
their legal rights fully in court before withdrawing its final
appeal to the Federal Court; and
• Any attempt to refuse to comply with
the consent order by the courts would attract substantial damages to
be paid by the state government.
The Penang state government hopes that the
public including some ADUNs and NGOs would not equate the necessity to
comply with the scheme of arrangement decided by the previous state
government as concurrence or even endorsement to converting reclaimed
land (that were previously foreshore or seabed) from leasehold to
freehold land. Even though the official legal view is that whilst the
state authority can exercise such powers, the new government would not
exercise such powers.
Gerakan new President Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon is advised again to
co-operate with the new state government to expose more land scams such
as those done in on Bayan Bay Development project. and clarify or pour
light in the one-sided agreements done to the detriment of the state and
rendering the NLC a meaningless. It is regrettable that despite the new
government's repeated calls to promote CAT, the old state government has
still refused to step forward and come clean on the land scams that have
caused losses of hundreds of millions of ringgit.
Lim Guan Eng, Penang Chief
Minister Penang & DAP