Why the rush to demolish heritage buildings? – Penang Gerakan

GEORGE TOWN: Penang Gerakan today questioned the DAP–led state government on the rush to approve the demolition of heritage buildings on the controversial Peel Avenue plot of land in June this year, when approval for the Island Hospital expansion project has not been granted yet.

Penang Gerakan Youth acting chief, Jason Loo said there were four buildings on the land that were categorised as Category II heritage buildings in the state heritage building list, which means that they warrant every effort possible to have them preserved.

"Was there any Heritage Impact Assessment conducted before the state government approved to demolish heritage buildings on the said land," he said. "If the hospital expansion project is not approved, how will they restore the demolished buildings? Will the site of the demolished heritage buildings be developed and turned into other commercial projects?"

In June of this year, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng announced that the state government sold a 2.6–hectare piece of land worth RM156 million at Peel Avenue to Island Hospital Sdn Bhd for the construction of a 'medical city’ project.

Lim was reported to have said that the land owned by Chief Minister Incorporated (CMI) had been alienated to the hospital on a 99–year lease, with a RM30 million down payment, while the remaining payment was to be settled within three months, after acquiring a licence from the Health Ministry.

Loo claimed there was no public consultation called before everything was decided, and it made one wonder why there was a rush in approving the land rezoning and the heritage building demolition.

He said residents in the vicinity were also never informed before the state government sold the land to Island Hospital in December 2016, nor a public consultation was conducted to seek the residents' views before they signed the agreement to sell the government land.

"Knowing that the said land was sold by CMI, I wonder how many plots of land have been transferred to CMI. I am worried that all government land under CMI will be sold fast and easily," he said.

Loo said the state government must answer the above questions to prove that they still believe and live up to their Competency, Accountability and Transparency (CAT) slogan. — Bernama