Sunday, March 30, 2008

Land scam tremor in Penang. Guan Eng will dig the grave of Gerakan leaders

"he he DAP looo"

Land scam tremor in Penang. Guan Eng will dig the grave of Gerakan leaders
Athi Veeranggan | Mar 28, 08 6:48pm Penang could soon be rocked by a major land scam that had siphoned off millions from the state government coffers under the BN-rule.

The new DAP-led Penang government has set its sight on finding out how millions of ringgits of the people�s money were lost in land improprieties under the previous administration.

lim kit siang dap pc 130208 guan engDescribing it as the biggest land-financial scandal ever in Penang, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng found that the land dealings for the past few years had caused the state government to lose millions.

�The land scam has caused colossal financial losses to the state government running to tens and tens and tens and tens of millions,� he told journalists.

Dissatisfied with the findings of an earlier Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) investigation done in 2006, the state government has now set up a three-man special investigating team headed by the Deputy Chief Minister I Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin, to carry out its own probe in the scam.

Others in the committee are Deputy Chief Minister II Prof P Ramasamy and state executive councillor Phee Boon Poh.

The committee would start its probe in the land scam next week, using findings of an earlier Anti-Corruption Agency investigation for a head-start.

The ACA has briefed Lim and Fairus on its investigation and findings on Friday.

Although Lim has not given any time frame to complete it, the committee is being expected to fast track its probe into the scandal.

Once it has completed its investigation, government insiders said Penangites would be in for a shock to discover the extent of misappropriation of land and public funds under the previous administration.

Missing files

Former Deputy Chief Minister Abdul Rashid Abdullah (2004-2008) was the executive councilor handling the land portfolio under the previous state administration.

Abdul Rashid, who lost in the Sungai Bakap state constituency in the recent general election, was among the vocal Umno leaders involved in the illegal demonstration against the DAP-led state government near Komtar on Friday March 14.

During the rally, he addressed the crowd in calling on Penang Malays to defend the New Economic Policy and Malay privileges, which supposedly have come under threat from the new state government.

All official executive documents on land dealings in Abdul Rashid�s Komtar office were among the files that had allegedly gone missing from most executive councilors� offices before the new state government was sworn in.

The present state government learnt about the land scam when perusing documents available at the state and district land offices, and state secretariat.

Insiders said initial random checks on previous land dealings had disclosed improprieties worth more than RM100 million.

Taking appropriate action

The state government was dissatisfied with ACA investigation, which was carried out during former Chief Minister Koh Tsu Koon�s administration, when it discovered its findings were shallow and, failed to recommend proportionate legal action or identify the land-scam major players.

�The legal action recommended was not proportionate with the amount of money siphoned off in this scam.

�It simply does not make sense to initiate lesser legal action in a land scam of this magnitude,� Lim said, while declining to deliberate on the issue.

Once the special team completes its probe, the state government would get a clearer picture on the amount of money, the acreage and number of lands, and individuals, agencies or companies involved in the scam.

Improprieties are learnt have happened in acquisition, conversion, development and title transfer of land with the bulk of them had allegedly took place in Penang mainland.

�It would help us to initiate proportionate and appropriate action against the culprits,� Lim said.

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(Muttafaq 'alaih)

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