Penang chief minister: I have nothing to hide

Penang chief minister: I have nothing to hide
Penang chief minister, Lim Guan Eng.
PHOTO: The Business Times

GEORGE TOWN - Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng has denied that the seller of his double-storey bungalow was involved in the company which won the bid in the sale of state land in Taman Manggis.

Lim said he bought the house in Pinhorn Road on July 28 last year for RM2.8 million (S$940,000). He paid RM700,000 in cash and RM2.1 million through a bank loan.

He said allegations by Tasek Gelugor MP Datuk Shabudin Yahaya linking the purchase of the house to the RM11 million sale of the 0.45ha plot in Taman Manggis in 2012 were "false and baseless".

He asked Shabudin, who is also the Penang Regional Development Authority chairman, to attend a "one-on-one meeting" at his office at Komtar at 11am on Sunday, in front of the media, to seek the truth based on facts.

"I want to see what facts Datuk Shabudin has to make such allegations. I have nothing to hide," he told a press conference at his office yesterday.

Lim read out his two-page statement and did not take any questions.

Shabudin had claimed that the seller of the house was linked to a shareholder of Kuala Lumpur International Dental Centre Sdn Bhd (KLIDC) which bought the 0.45ha plot meant for low-cost housing.

It was reported that KLIDC proposed to build a specialist clinic centre and hotel on the plot.

Shabudin also claimed that the actual value of the 943.98 sq m Pinhorn Road house was RM6 million and was sold to Lim at the undervalued amount of RM2.8 million.

He told reporters at the Parliament lobby on Thursday that the house was valued at RM2.5 million when Lim began renting it seven years ago for RM5,000 a month and that it had been renovated.

Lim said the purchase of the house was "an arms-length transaction" between him and the seller on a "willing buyer, willing seller" basis.

He also said the sale of the Taman Manggis land was conducted by open competitive tender and sold to the highest bidder.

"The seller of my house is not a director or shareholder of the company that won the bid.

"Furthermore, the state tender committee is not chaired by me but by the State Secretary," he added.

Lim said the state government had no knowledge that the Taman Manggis land was earmarked for low-cost housing and had decided to offer the plot for a specialist hospital to encourage medical tourism.

Shabudin could not be reached for comment.

A non-governmental organisation, Persatuan Muka Buku, lodged a report with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) yesterday over the house purchase while Parti Cinta Malaysia (PCM) lodged a police report.

Muka Buku secretary Muhsin Abdul Latiff said the association handed over certain documents pertaining to the sale of the house to the MACC but declined to say what these were.

In his report at the Prai police station, PCM vice-president Datuk Huan Cheng Guan urged the police to investigate the sale and probe the sale of the Taman Manggis land.

Huan claimed that there were links between the house seller and a director on the KLIDC board, alleging that both were directors on the board of another private company.

Penang Umno Liaison Committee chairman Datuk Zainal Abidin Osman urged the authorities to conduct a thorough investigation into the allegations by Shabudin.

He said that instead of challenging Shabudin to a meeting on Sunday, Lim should urge the police and MACC to conduct immediate investigations to clear his name.

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