Prime Penang land ‘sold to hospital’
GEORGE TOWN: Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng yesterday confirmed that a prime piece of state land at Peel Avenue here has been alienated to a private hospital on a 99-year lease of RM156 million without going through open tender last December.
This is done despite preaching that Penang is the only state in Malaysia that practices a blanket open tendering system.
Over the past week, nongovernmental organisation Citizen Awareness Chant Group and Penang Gerakan demanded the state government to come clean on the status of the 2.732ha land.
Lim said the state government decided to treat Island Hospital in the same manner that it treated multinational companies, such as electronics factories investing in the state.
He said building a hospital was a massive undertaking and Island Hospital was willing to invest RM2 billion.
“Since this is an offer from a reputable hospital with financial resources, we treat it like any investments coming in. We were told that the investment is coming from overseas.
“In this sense, it is like any other foreign investment, like Intel or any MNC (multinational corporation) coming in. They must fulfil certain requirements, especially electronics companies.
“Companies like Intel or Motorola do not go through open tender. They are the MNCs that we want.
“Similarly, we decided to treat this matter in the same manner because this is a hospital that is in the process of securing a licence from the Health Ministry for a massive expansion.”
Lim said the project will be the largest private hospital in Malaysia so far.
He said the state had received RM30 million as deposit from Island Hospital.
The hospital will have two years to apply and secure necessary licences from relevant government departments and ministries.
“After securing the necessary approvals, the hospital will have three months to pay the remaining amount.”
Asked why he did not announce the news earlier and only did so after it became an issue of contention, Lim said he could not make the announcement as he was subjected to a non-disclosure agreement.
“The announcement can only be made by the investor at the time they feel is right.
“We must respect the confidentiality of this investor just like any other company. If we make the announcement for political reasons, we will lose investors’ confidence.
“We will not be dictated by political games played by irresponsible parties.”
Lim Guan Eng