Penang state government denies granting approvals

GEORGE TOWN: The Penang chief minister's office has denied press reports that the Pakatan Rakyat state government had granted approvals for reclamation or hill development projects on the island.

In a statement, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng's press secretary Cheong Yin Fan said such approvals had been granted by the previous Barisan Nasional state government.

"The Penang Chief Minister’s Office regrets certain misleading reports of government approvals granted for large tracts of land reclamation and hill development projects by Lim.

"Such false press reports by pro-BN and Umno-controlled media are calculated to cause maximum damage and undermine public confidence, the integrity and credibility of the Pakatan Rakyat administration.

"The Penang state government appreciates the valid concerns expressed by Penangites who are confused by these false allegations from BN.

"Amongst the issues raised are existing hill slope projects approved by the previous BN state government, which the present PR state government cannot simply cancel for fear of incurring hundreds of millions of ringgit in compensation that Penangites cannot afford," the statement added.

It also said that there have been no approvals granted on any major land reclamation or hill development projects by either the state government or Lim.

"The only approvals granted for reclamation or hill development projects were by the previous BN state government. It is ironic that amongst those making these allegations are BN leaders that had themselves approved these projects in the past without public consultation. It is wrong to pin the blame on the PR state government."

The statement said there had been proposals for development from various quarters but these proposals cannot be equated with approvals.

"Any approvals made must fulfill the aspirations of a people-centric government transforming Penang into an international city with world-class facilities and support services and a thriving magnet for the best human talent.

"Before any approvals are signed, the state government will observe the principles of competency, accountability and transparency in governance and obtain public consultation.

"BN approved numerous major hillslope projects and PR not even one. BN did not consult the public while PR regularly consulted the public. There is no corruption in the PR state government while there are hidden monetary costs in the BN state government.

"This is the difference between a people-centric government of PR and the crony government of BN," it added.

Cheong said, as Lim was away visiting Bahrain and Iran on an mission to seek new markets for  investments and tourism, he would address these queries upon his return or at the coming Penang state assembly meeting on Nov 30.

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