KOMTAR : The state Barisan Nasional has paid RM224,073 as “earnest money” to the Penang government for the 0.4ha plot of land in Taman Manggis.

State Barisan Youth chief Oh Tong Keong said the payment was to show the state Barisan’s seriousness and sincerity in buying the land.

Oh was accompanied by Penang MCA Youth chief Tan Hing Teik and Tanjung Barisan Youth chief H’ng Khoon Leng, who went to Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s office to hand over the money at 11am yesterday.

However, they were denied entry by the guards at Komtar.

Lim’s special assistant Faridah Hani M. Yaacob, who met the group, said the state could not accept the cash and told them to bank in the amount to the state via the state treasurer.

The Barisan leaders later banked in the amount at a Maybank branch in Komtar.

The money, RM224,073, was downpayment for the 0.45ha Taman Manggis land on Jalan Zainal Abidin here, its chief Oh Tong Keong said.

He surprised members of the press when he dug out piles of ringgit notes from the bag to show them. State MCA Youth chief Tan Hing Teik, who was present, also brought along a cash-counting machine.

Asked why the money was in cash, Oh said the state government had not advised them to which party the money should be paid to.

“In the offer letter dated Sept 4 that we received from the state, there was no mention of who we should issue the cheque to. Even the amount to be paid was not stated… so, we decided to bring cash.

“The cash is one per cent of the total amount we are prepared to pay for the land. We hope the state will consider our sincerity to purchase and develop the plot for a people’s housing project. We want to proceed with the sales and purchase agreement as soon as possible.”

Oh said BN was serious about solving housing and other issues concerning the people.

“The state did not ask for the 1% payment, but if we do not take any action, the state will accuse us of not being sincere,” he added.

He said it was unheard of that an opposition party had to buy land from a state government to build public housing for the poor.

It was reported previously that the state BN had offered to buy the Taman Manggis land at RM450 per sq ft or RM22 million from the state to prevent the building of a 30-storey private hospital on the plot which would also feature a 19-storey hotel.

The state BN had also reportedly argued that when it was in the state government, the land was earmarked for a second-phase PPR (Program Perumahan Rakyat) development.

After speaking to reporters,Oh and his entourage tried to enter the state government’s administration premises on level three of Komtar but they were prevented by security personnel.

H’ng said the wing had to use cash as there was no reference number or to whom the payment should be made out to in the offer letter dated Sept 4.

The Barisan Youth leaders hoped that the state could now expedite the sales and purchase agreement of the land.

Lim declined to comment.

“Let me get the details first,” he said after launching the German Heritage Trail in Whiteaways Arcade in Beach Street.

Lim’s political secretary Ng Wei Aik said the state Barisan should explain how it had obtained the cash.

The BN Youth leaders protested, saying they had already informed Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s office by letter on Monday that they would be coming to hand over an offer letter and the money for purchasing the land.

Shortly after, Lim’s confidential secretary Farida Hani M. Yacob came and told Oh that they could not receive the money in cash and advised him to bank it into the state treasury account.

After a brief exchange, Oh and his BN colleagues went down to Maybank on the ground floor to bank in the money.

After banking the money and showing reporters the bank slip, Oh said BN was leaving things to their lawyers Francis Goh, Rowena Yam, Baljit Singh and Lee Boon Ten to handle from now on.
(source The Star / NST)


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