‘Many good hospitals could have vied for Penang land’

GEORGE TOWN: Penang could have sought proposals from major international medical players before selling the Peel Avenue government land to a hospital company directly, Gerakan said today.

State Gerakan Youth chief Jason Loo said through a request for proposal, the state government could have vetted a list of top-notch potential hospitals to improve medical tourism in the state.

“Before you build a medical city, you could get other companies in the business to give their proposals.

“Why give preferential treatment to just one company when you can hear from others?” he said at a press conference today.

The Penang government sold a piece of land for RM156 million to a private hospital for a RM2 billion medical tourism development.

The deal has come under that state opposition’s spotlight after it was sold through direct negotiation, instead of through open tenders as is usually done by the state government.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng defended the sale, saying it would bring RM2 billion to RM7 billion in economic value to the state, creating 2,000 jobs and attracting medical talent from overseas.

The land was sold to Island Hospital Sdn Bhd on a 99-year-lease last December. The hospital intends to build a 600-bed private hospital and suites in the next five years if it obtains a medical licence from the health ministry in the next two years.

The hospital has placed RM30 million as down payment. If it fails to obtain a ministry licence, it will forfeit 2% of the payment and the land will then remain under the Penang government’s ownership.

Lim had said the land was sold higher than the finance ministry’s valuation of RM148 million for a 99-year-lease. The ministry had recommended the land to be sold at RM156 million for a freehold title.

Loo said many facets of the sale remain unanswered and put forward a few questions regarding the sale to the Penang government.

For instance, he said under normal circumstances, a government land up for sale would be rezoned (i.e. land use change) before it was sold to another party.

Loo said by right the land should have been marked as land for a medical institution before being valued and sold.

“In this case, why was the land not gazetted as ‘medical institution’? The land remains under the ‘government use’ category,” he said.

Loo also asked why the land was under the ownership of state company Chief Minister Incorporated (CMI), instead of the usual state bodies like Penang Development Corporation or the State Secretary’s Office.

He said during Gerakan’s rule of the state government before 2008, all land sale matters were brought to the Land Committee, comprising state executive councillors and assemblymen.

“Is there a one-man decision-making procedure at work here? When and why was the land transferred to CMI?

“Where was the proceeds of the sale paid to?” Loo questioned.

 

Source: http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2017/05/29/many-good-hospitals-could-have-vied-for-penang-land/

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