Thursday, June 19, 2008

Guan Eng makes surprise 'raid' on land office - The Sun

GEORGE TOWN (June 19, 2008): By Bernard Cheah

The staff of the state Land and Mines Department here were caught unawares when Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng made a surprise visit just before lunch hour today.

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng (right) making a suprise visit to the Land and Mines Department office in Komtar.

Lim made his surprise move after receiving complaints from the public that they had been given wrong forms for the state’s land renewal policy.

A few officers who were standing outside were seen rushing in when they spotted the throng of photographers and reporters accompanying the chief minister as he stepped into the 50th floor of Komtar.

Lim walked straight to the main counter and was seen seeking clarifications and updates from the staff there.

He was later taken inside to view the online application procedure.

When he emerged later, Lim told reporters he was disappointed that the public had been given incorrect forms. The forms available online were also the wrong ones, he said.

"If there is a flaw, we are prepared to admit it," he said reporters.

"As a state government practising competency, accountability and transparency (CAT), we are responding immediately to rectify the situation," he said.

It is learnt that at least 100 people had picked up the forms.

Lim announced on Monday (June 16) that all industrial and commercial property owners on state land can have their leases converted to the maximum of 99 years. Additionally, all residential landed properties are to be made freehold.

He said the measures were part of the state government's plan to return ownership of land to Penangites, and would have significant impact on the industrial and commercial sectors, especially with their ability to obtain financing.

"I'll make sure that (Penang State Land and Mines Department director) Ariffin (Awang) will check the forms again and the information on the website is corrected and made more user-friendly," he said.

Lim, who is also State Land Affairs and Land Development Committee chairman, said he was dissatisfied with the officers' performance as they had undergone briefing sessions on the matter.

The amended 12A and Schedule 1 forms can be obtained from any of the five land offices or downloaded from from Monday (June 23).

Lim said those who had picked up the wrong forms will be contacted to collect the amended forms.

In order to apply for land conversion or extension, the public is required to submit two completed copies of the Schedule 1 form, four copies of 12A form, copies of the property’s location plan, land grant and Memorandum of Articles of Association.

The location plans at RM20 are available at the land owners’ respective District and Land Offices. A payment of RM200 is required for the application.

For details, the public can call 04-2615459.

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