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Putting the Record Straight

In June, the Star attacked the Penang PR government for whimsically approving development projects on hills above 250 feet. “Star has ignored the fact that the Penang PR state government did not approve any development projects above 250 feet,” Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said.

“Whilst these new hill slope guidelines have caused unhappiness amongst developers about the legality of implementing these technical guidelines retrospectively, the state government is determined to compel compliance.”

Lim said that stringent compliance of hill slope safety guidelines designed by independent and credible consultants has been imposed. “There were 259 stop-work orders issued by MPPP between 2008 to 2012 under PR as against the 38 stop-work orders issued by MPPP in the previous 4 years under BN,” he said.

Penang Island Municipal Council (MPPP) records show that 37 hill slope projects were approved under the BN administration between 1985 and 2008 before PR took over the state.

In the MPPP report, it was stated that from April 2008 to May 2012 the 19 projects were listed under the special projects category of the state structural plan 2007.

The report stated that the 19 projects had either been given “prior plan approval” or were based on a MPPP Development Control and Planning Master Plan approved on September 13, 1996.

“The PR state government can only cancel these development orders granted by the previous state government if huge compensation sums are paid.”

“As an estimate to the possible compensatory costs involved, Boustead Holdings Bhd is making a claim of RM60 million from MPPP following a reduction of the height of its building from 12 storeys to 5 storeys in the George Town Heritage area to comply with the 18 meter height requirement of UNESCO World Heritage City Guidelines,” he explained.

“Again the 12 storey height limit was approved to Boustead by the previous state government, which broke its promise to UNESCO that no such approval for buildings above 5 storeys would be given.”

“Based on the Boustead experience, if reducing the height by a mere 12 storeys to 5 storeys can attract a claim of RM60 million, the state or MPPP would have to fork out hundreds of millions of ringgit or even billions to cancel all the hill projects approved by BN.”

“This would definitely bankrupt MPPP or the state government. For that reason, the PR state government has taken the difficult choice to manage the hill projects approved by the previous BN government with stringent hill slope safety guidelines to ensure public safety.” – The Rocket

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