GEORGE TOWN: The state has allocated RM20 million as compensation to 14 landowners and four building owners who will be affected by the construction of affordable housing and the siting of a Muslim cemetary in Jelutong.
Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the allocation, which has been paid out to the affected persons, does not include the cost of construction of the housing project that amounts to RM60 million.
"The development of homes and Muslim cemetary will be housed on a 3.2-acre land," said Lim.
He urged people not to invoke racial sentiments because non-Malay landowners would be required to give up their title. Lim said this in relation to the long overdue issue regarding the lack of space for a Muslim burial ground for the Jelutong mosque which he said was not resolved by the previous administration.
"The housing project is a government project for the people. However, there is also a need for a Muslim cemetary and non-Muslims would need to make way for this," he said.
He added that affected persons, including squatters from the present site, would be housed in the affordable housing project.
Citing the Land Acquisition Act and government projects, Lim said landowners are usually compelled to surrender the land.
He added that Penang Development Corporation (PDC) would develop the housing project soon.
Lim also clarified two reports which he claimed had erroneously reported on the matter during the weekend.
"I did not say a luxury housing project would be constructed on that site. I also never mentioned the word halau (chase) when talking about Land Acquisition Act. We are not chasing anyone away," Lim said.
"We are paying them compensation. These are malicious reports," he said.
He showed evidence that the Penang Islamic Religious Council (MAIPP) was aware of the Muslim cemetery land and that they were the ones who requested for burial land.
"We have evidence that MAIPP requested for extra burial land which has been gazetted, instead it was reported that MAIPP had no idea about this. These are lies. I don't know how long these will go on," Lim said.