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Indemnity may be over RM10bil

GEORGE TOWN: The compensation for postponing approved reclamation projects could amount to more than RM10bil instead of the RM1bil announced earlier, said Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.

Citing the case of the Tang Hak Ju land issue where the state government was taken to court, Lim said they had to pay about RM30mil compensation although the land was priced at just about RM500,000.

Lim had come under criticisms following his remarks that postponement of such projects could bankrupt Penang, which would have to pay RM1bil in compensation since only 301ha of the 1,311.58ha approved for reclamation by the previous state government had been reclaimed so far.

Penang Barisan Nasional chairman Teng Chang Yeow had accused him of not substantiating the RM1bil comment, saying that Lim had used the confidentiality clause in the deals as an excuse not to explain his statement.

Speaking to reporters yesterday after visiting the family of a dengue victim, Lim said that Teng should “give us the Federal Government’s indemnity. Then we can cancel all the projects.”

At another event, Balik Pulau MP Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya said he would oppose a proposed reclamation project off the island’s southern coast which would encroach into the fishing area of 1,500 fishermen.

The reclamation project comes under the Penang Transport Master Plan which would include a Light Rail Transit.

“The LRT is not a viable venture. Such transport systems all over the world are incurring losses. It is almost impossible for any company in Penang to build and manage a profitable LRT network,” he told reporters yesterday.

SRS Consortium Sdn Bhd, the Project Delivery Partner for the RM27bil PTMP, had proposed to create two man-made islands of 930ha and 445ha near Permatang Damar Laut to fund the PTMP.

About 1,000 fishermen had protested against the project on Dec 13.

The Consumers Association of Penang had said the project would lead to destruction of fishing grounds and also sea pollution.

On talk that most of the reclamation agreements were inked under the previous Barisan Nasional government, Hilmi said the state could always negotiate or discontinue any previous deals.

“After seven years, the state is still blaming the Barisan government for its failures,” he said.

– The Star

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