THE winding-up speech of Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng (pic) (DAP-Air Putih) was a lively affair with the state Opposition badgering him about the Peel Avenue hospital land deal.
“For years you have been thumping your chest (‘tepuk dada’) about Penang practising the open tender system.
“Now, the people of Penang want to know if this policy is absolute or not?” Opposition Leader Datuk Jahara Hamid (BN-Telok Air Tawar) asked.
“When did I ever say the open tender policy is absolute. If there is a strategic investment, we do direct negotiations,” retorted Lim.
Jahara shot back: “Ya, words like ‘strategic investment’ and ‘direct negotiations’ are only mentioned now while the government all this while prides itself for doing open tenders.
“This project for the rich can be fast-tracked while there are affordable housing projects of the Federal Government languishing with no approval for five years since the applications.”
Jahara was referring to the 99-year lease of state land in Peel Avenue awarded to Island Hospital for the development of the ‘Island Medical City’.
Lim mentioned it in his winding-up speech.
“The letter of offer for the Island Medical City project was given in 2015 and agreement was signed in December last year.”
“It was only signed after two years of negotiation. How can you call it fast-track?” Lim asked.
He also said housing projects by Federal agencies such as Penang Regional Development Authority and JKP Sdn Bhd were not approved because they included units priced at above RM1mil.
Datuk Shah Headan Ayoob Hussain Shah (BN-Telok Bahang) interjected and read an excerpt from Lim’s 2008 speech in Parliament which goes, “Open tenders should be practiced at all times and in foreign countries if a project is given without open tender its termed as corruption and legal action could be taken”.
“What is your answer to this? Is state’s open tender policy absolute or not?” Shah Headan asked.
Lim answered: “I never said it was absolute. It’s a core component while some requests for proposals would be negotiated directly.
“Why are you all questioning this deal when the Ikea deal in Batu Kawan was inked through direct negotiations and no one questioned that?”
“Why are all of you harping on this when it’s only one percent of the entire RM39bil given out through open tenders.”
He closed his speech by saying that if he was “not around”, the next chief minister would be Chow Kon Yeow (DAP-Padang Kota).
That led to an uproar from the Opposition bench, who wondered how he could name Chow when there are two deputy chief ministers in line for the post. – The Star Online