Friday, March 18, 2016

Penang need not pay land compensation with appeals board nod, chief says

GEORGE TOWN, March 14 — Penang’s state appeals board chairman Datuk Yeo Yang Poh gave an assurance today the state government is not in danger of forking out billions of ringgit in compensation as a result of disputed land development.

Datuk Yeo Yang Poh said the issue of compensation does not arise when the appeals board decided against a developer’s project. — Picture by K.E.OoiHe said the government would be spared so long as the state appeals board agrees to set aside planning permission that had been approved by the city council.

“So if the board sets aside previously approved planning permission, there is no question of compensation at all,” Yeo said in his speech at the opening of an appeals board seminar at Olive Tree Hotel here.

He said there was a misconception that the board’s decision will lead to the state paying compensation to developers, due to Section 25 of the Town and Country Planning Act.

Under Section 25, once the city council granted planning permission to a developer and later revoke it due to public interest, the developer will then be entitled to some compensation.

The decision by the appeals board is separate from Section 25 as any decisions made by the board is part of a statutory scheme.

However, Yeo admitted that the board’s decisions can still be subjected to judicial review, but stressed that the issue of compensation does not arise.

“If our decision is upheld, what compensation can they talk about? If it’s overturned, they can proceed with the project, so either way, the issue of compensation does not arise at all,” Yeo told reporters later when asked to clarify.

He pointed out that these are processes set out in the Act by Parliament so there was no issue of compensation when the process is being carried out and implemented.

When asked about the state government’s insistence that it may still be liable to pay compensation to the developer, Yeo held firmly to his views.

“I hold a different view, I think the confusion may be due to Section 25 but my view is that no issue of compensation can arise at all,” he said.

Recently, the appeals board decided that the Penang Island Municipal Council (MBPP) did not need to approve the development order sought by Sunway Sdn Bhd for their land that is above 76 metres.

The developer’s land was labelled as a “special project” and was allowed development of either six units per acre or 15 units per acre by the previous government.

The Appeals Board also stated that MBPP need not pay compensation for rejecting the special project.

Fearing it may be forced to pay billions of ringgit in compensation for these projects approved by the previous administration, the Pakatan Harapan Penang government engaged Universiti Malaya Law Professor Gurdial Singh Nijar and prominent lawyer Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan to assist in handling the court cases.

No comments: