We’ll Approve Low-Cost Projects But First Explain Luxury Units

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GEORGETOWN, Oct 31 – The Penang government has no problem approving low-cost housing projects by federal agencies but the agencies must explain why some of their affordable homes are priced at over RM1 million, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said today. He said if the federal agencies – JKP Sdn Bhd and Penang Regional Development Authority (Perda) – agreed to this, the state could give the green light for the low-cost projects.

“We can negotiate the rest (of the projects) later,” he said, adding that the federal agencies must explain why some of the units they proposed to build were priced at RM1.8 million. Lim was referring to a mixed-development proposal by JKP in Sungai Batu, Teluk Kumbar in which 12 three-storey bungalows were priced at RM1.85 million each.

The project also had eight two-storey semi-detached homes priced at RM1.25 million and eight three-storey bungalows to be sold for over RM1 million. There was also an RM1.6 million double-storey bungalow in the plan. Lim said the local authorities would not approve luxury projects on land acquired for the benefit of the people.

“We do not understand how the federal agencies can build such expensive homes. How can they be called affordable homes? “We also want to know how they can make profits of RM149 million. Does the federal government build affordable homes to make profit?” he said at his Komtar office today. Lim said the state government had estimated that it would record losses of RM800 million in building affordable homes for the people.

The Pakatan Rakyat state government has been involved in a debate for weeks with Penang Federal Action Council chairman Datuk Zainal Abidin Osman over a number of federal housing projects by the two agencies. Lim had told deputy prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin in a letter last Friday that Penang could not approve luxury-priced housing projects planned by Putrajaya on plots derived through land acquisition as the process was supposed to be for public and affordable housing only.

Zainal had complained that the state had stalled 15 projects by Perda and JKP for over two years, including three projects with units priced below the RM400,000 and RM250,000 ceiling prices fixed by the Penang government for affordable homes on the island and mainland. “Zainal should meet our housing exco Jagdeep Singh Deo, who can deal with these issues… Talk to Jagdeep first, who has said he is willing to meet him.

“If Zainal is still unhappy after meeting Jagdeep, then he can come see me,” said Lim. Meanwhile, Lim said that the state exco would set up a broadband one-stop mechanism to address all matters related to the installation of broadband infrastructure in Penang. He said local government exco Chow Kon Yeow would be in charge of the mechanism and handle everything related to the matter, including issuing permits for infrastructure installation and meeting with interested telco providers.

Lim said powerful broadband connection would allow cloud computing, big data analytics and “Internet of Things” (IoT), which offered advanced connectivity of devices, systems, and services beyond machine-to-machine communications, and covered a variety of protocols, domains and applications. “Penang will be at a disadvantage and lose out to other states if we do not have the most up-to-date and sophisticated broadband networks.

“If we are not connected with high-speed Internet, we will not be able to be a BPO (business process outsourcing) hub or attract software companies to Penang. “It is critical for the state’s future and economic transformation,” he added. Lim also said the state would make an announcement regarding a big investment next week, but did not provide details.

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