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Mar 22, 2008


Panel to probe dubious land deals in Penang

PENANG: The state government has set up a special panel to investigate “land improprieties” amounting to “tens and tens of thousands of ringgit”.

The week-old new administration has uncovered improprieties in the previous government's practices that could cause a huge contingent liability for the state, chief minister Lim Guan Eng said.

Set to start investigations next week, the newly formed three-member panel headed by deputy chief minister I Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin will comprise deputy CM II Dr P. Ramasamy and exco member Phee Boon Poh.

“I cannot go into details because of legal reasons. What we have discovered may only be the tip of the iceberg but it has caused us great anxiety.":

"That is why I have set up the panel. I am taking a personal interest in this matter because in Penang, land is even more precious than gold. Because of the seriousness of the matter, I have informed Yang di-Pertua Negri Tun Abdul Rahman Abbas of our preliminary findings.

“We must stop unhealthy practices that cause severe strains on the state’s finances.

“When we have to pay compensation because of irregularities, it makes it difficult for us to help the poor. We need to see if similar improprieties have also occurred in other agencies,” said Lim.

“As an accountant, I am very worried but as chief minister, I must find ways to attract investors to plug the deficiency. We need to do a thorough audit to determine the actual state of our finances,” he said.

Lim, who is also the state Industrial Development and International Trade, and Land Affairs and Land Development Committee chairman, was speaking to reporters after handing out 400 goodie bags to senior citizens at the Penang Yi Ching Taoism Association Saturday.

Asked about the missing documents in the state executive councillors’ offices, Lim said he did not want to comment yet. “Let state secretary Datuk Jamaluddin Hasan investigate. Besides, what is gone is gone,” he said.


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