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Media conference statement by Lim Guan Eng in Komtar, George Town on Friday, 17th February 2012: 

Would UMNO leaders Datuk Zainal Abidin Osman and Datuk Abdul Rahman Datuk Dahlan accept my challenge? 

UMNO leaders have systematically carried out a vicious campaign of lies against the Penang state government on the sale of Bayan Mutiara land in 2010 by open competitive tender at RM 240 per square feet or total sale price of RM1.07 billion. Amongst the lies raised by UMNO Penang Chairman Datuk Zainal Abidin Osman and Kota Belud MP Datuk Abdul Rahman Datuk Dahlan was that there was no open tender; the selling price was sold to a private developer at 50% lower than the market value of RM 420 per square feet; and that the Penang state government had insulted local Malaysians by appointing HDB Singapore as a consultant for the state government's massive affordable housing project in Batu Kawan.

When the government decided to sell the 102.3 acres of Bayan Mutiara land(67.5 acres filled land and 35 acres to be reclaimed) by open tender in 2010, a reserve price was set at RM200 per square feet. This high reserve price of RM 200 per square feet was set on 7 April 2010 despite the valuation by the Jabatan Penilaian Perkhidmatan Harta, Kementerian Kewangan, on 5 November 2009 estimating the price to be at only RM 65 per square feet. When the tender closed on 31.12.2010, the state government's bold decision to fix the reserve price at RM200 per square foot was proven correct when the highest bid came in at RM 240 psf or RM1.07 billion.

I am disappointed that the estimated valuation of RM65 psf provided by Jabatan Penilaian Harta, from the Finance Ministry, was not reported by the English and Malay media. To-date UMNO and Abdul Rahman has not responded to my challenge to buy over the 102.3 acres at RM420 if that is the market price claimed by UMNO. UMNO should put their money where their mouth is by paying up RM420 psf. If UMNO or their cronies buy over at RM420 psf, the state government can get an extra RM800 million or RM1.87 billion instead of RM1.07 billion at RM240 psf.

As for UMNO's allegations that the sale was not done by open competitive tender, I am willing to retire from politics if UMNO can prove so. Facts are facts which can not be changed by lies. The open competitive tender of the Bayan Mutiara land was even advertised in the newspapers in 2010.

If Datuk Zainal Abidin Osman and Datuk Abdul Rahman fail to prove that there was no open competitive tender, would they then dare to accept my challenge to retire from politics? The 2 UMNO leaders should accept this challenge to prove that there are not engaging in a systematic campaign of lies to undermine and sabotage the state government's open competitive tender policy and affordable housing programme.

Quality and delivery still matters even for affordable housing: Letter of Support from renowned architect Raja Datuk Kamarul Bahrin Ahmad Shah

RM500 million derived as profits from the sale of the Bayan Mutiara land is used for affordable housing both in the mainland and the island. The first project is in Batu Kawan comprising 12,000 units over 200 acres built over 10 years.

To ensure that there is quality affordable housing for the poor, the state government has decided to appoint the best instead of merely imitiating the best. For this reason HDB Singapore, widely acknowledged as providing the best affordable housing in Asia if not the world, was chosen.

HDB Singapore was chosen for their expertise in design, planning, implementation and management. HDB Singapore is not involved in building or construction. The tender for building and construction will be held by open tender separately likely at the end of this year. For this reason, the state government regrets the actions by UMNO to racialise the issue asking why local Malaysians can not do the job but instead we have to go to Singapore.

Pandering to anti-Singapore sentiments is not only a racial provocation but also double-standards when it is okay for Singapore to come to Iskandar, Johor, but not to Peanng. Such extremist tactics by UMNO will not work in Penang because Penangites support the PR state government sincere efforts to provide the best affordable housing for the poor in Malaysia.

The time has come for the poor not to live in a box but with dignity. Every Penangite should live in a home and not in a box. Every Penangite, including the poor deserves their dream home. And Penang state government intends to allow them to share this dream.

We are happy to find support from one of Malaysia's foremost architects, RAJA Datuk Kamarul Bahrin Ahmad Shah. Raja Dato Kamarul in his letter of support to me received yesterday, endorsed Penang's decision to appoint HDB Singapore as the consultant because they have the track record of the best builder of quality affordable housing.(see letter enclosed) Quality and delivery still matters even for affordable housing.

*Lim Guan Eng, Penang Chief Minister



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