By Thanusya Shanmuganathan
KUALA LUMPUR, July 9 — Lim Guan Eng is inviting The Star’s group chief editor Datuk Wong Chun Wai to an open dialogue with the Penang chief minister and municipal council officials to clear the air over hill development in the state
“We have nothing to hide. I have ordered the MPPP to declassify all the meeting minutes on the approval of hillside projects above 250 feet (72.6 m),” Lim said today.
“I have also asked Yang DiPertua Patahiyah binti Ismail to engage with NGOs and affected parties.”
Lim has accused the MCA-owned newspaper of waging “open war” against Penang in recent days, noting the daily’s critical focus on the state and its issues.
The Star has criticised the state government repeatedly over hill developments.
Today, the daily dedicated a front-page report and an additional four pages on the issue it labels Penang’s “crying hills”.
This follows similar coverage in its Sunday edition yesterday, in addition to previous reports.
“Clearly this is an attempt to distract attention from MCA’s failed smear campaign, MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek’s past sexual escapades as well as (to) excuse the previous government from its faults, (and) to help BN win back Penang,” he said in a statement.
Lim said that while Pakatan Rakyat is willing to admit its mistakes, it refuses to take the blame for the hill projects, which he said were approved by the previous BN government.
Disputing The Star’s claims, Lim highlighted that his administration approved no hill developments at all since taking over in 2008, compared to 37 that were given the green light when BN ran the state.
“Further, why did The Star not highlight those hill projects in BN-controlled states and picked only Penang?
“Instead, The Star has chosen to frame the Pakatan Rakyat government for a crime it did not commit,” Lim continued.
Lim also went on to accuse the previous administration of using a loophole to bypass regulations barring on hill development above 250 feet.
“Unfortunately the previous BN government violated these guidelines by not only approving 37 projects before 2008 but also gave approval for those above 250 feet as special projects.
“Patahiyah had explained that the 19 approvals by MPPP for heights above 250 feet after 2008 fell under the special projects category and had to be processed according to normal geo-technical guidelines,” he said
Today, Lim denied that the state did not want to cancel the said projects, but said that it would be financially ruinous to overturn them.
Instead, he challenged The Star to push the developers into abandoning the hill projects, and asked if the federal BN government would be willing to compensate the developers.
He also called The Star “hypocrites”, saying it was friendly with the Penang developers and did not dare criticise them for developing hill projects.