Jerry Chan attacks The Star on behalf of Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, but why?
It looks like the `Cat` is out of the bag and the truth about how developers are working hand in hand with the DAP-led Penang government is finally emerging.
The irony of it all is the manner the puzzle about the `unholy alliance` between developers and Lim Guan Eng's administration is falling into place.
All this while, the only thing critics could fall back about the `unholy alliance` was mere allegations that something was not right with the frenzied pace of development taking place all over the island.
Newspapers that had been highlighting the issue were accused of `media lynching` the chief minister.
Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs), which dared to take up the fight, were ticked off and given all kind of demeaning names by none other than the chief minister himself.
However, what transpired during a presentation at the `Star Property Fair 2012` recently has shed some light on how developers could actually be in cahoots with the state government.
Looks like the two have openly joined forces to attack those questioning the state of affairs in Penang.
It was none other than the Real Estate and Housing Developers Association (Rehda) northern region chairman Datuk Jerry Chan who openly hit out at the The Star.
Chan chose to humiliate and tear the paper apart over the daily's coverage of hill slope development issues in recent weeks.
He must have thought that he was doing the state government and fellow developers a favour by attacking The Star at their own function.
However, his action has led to tongues wagging about how Chan had actually been used by those on level 28 of Komtar to carry out the deed, which could not be done by Lim himself.
Chan attacking The Star has actually opened a can of worms on the relationship between developers and the state government.
Instead of taking a non-partisan stand on the media's right to highlight issues of concern to Penangites, he chose to parrot what Lim had been saying and accused the media of having an agenda against the state government.
Lets take a look at what Chan said during his talk where he slammed the so-called `unnecessary and unfair coverage` about how hill slope development was taking place in Penang and compare with what Lim has been saying all this while on the same subject.
Chan claimed hill slope destruction in Penang was nothing new and had been happening since the 1960s but the media was only now choosing to highlight the problem as the general election was around the corner.
This argument is the same mantra that Lim has been repeating whenever he is questioned on the topic.
Lim too has never failed to apportion all blame on the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) state government.
Chan also challenged The Star to `put its money where its mouth is and reject ads from developers who have projects on hillslopes to prove the newspaper’s sincerity in highlighting hill slope development issues.
The statement is exactly the same words used by Lim when he hammered the
newspaper immediately after The Star ran its front-page story on the dying hills in Penang.
In his speech at the Property Fair organized by The Star, Chan also brought up the issue about how a particular feature writer from the newspaper had been constantly writing about `the Penang CM is the darling of developers - who are a powerful lobby in the state`.
"It is a clear misrepresentation of facts," he claimed.
However, in his haste to take on the CM's critics, Chan again exposed how he had actually just proven the media's take on the relationship between Lim and developers.
As it is Lim's argument that there was little that his administration could do to stop hill slope projects as the previous state government had approved them approvals is being proven to be nothing but hogwash.
A senior lawyer here has revealed that the state authorities actually had unlimited powers to keep developers in check.
"Let me tell you it is not easy for developers to take on the state authorities.
"There are but hundreds of regulations that developers have to abide when they get any approvals. Do you think they are following all the rules?
“The state can easily get them on any one of these pre-conditions without ending up paying a single sen to the developers," he said.
Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Seri Chor Chee Heung has corroborated the fact. He revealed that there were legal provisions, which can be used under the Town and Country Planning Act 1976 to stop projects.
It was reported that the state government could use Section 24 and 25 of the Town and Country Planning Act to either impose new conditions or reject a project when the planning permission is up for renewal after a year.
"The state government can even stop a project within a year after work has started without having to pay substantial compensation to the developer.
"According to Sections 24 and 25, the compensation that needs to be paid is a small amount as it covers only the actual cost incurred bythe developer to implement the project and not compensation for the profits that the project would generate," Chor clarified following Lim’s argument that the DAP-led state government as powerless to stop hillside developments.
What Chor failed to mention but has become increasingly talked about is the fact that Lim fears straining his ties with his new found developer friends.
After all - and as Chan had rightly pointed out in his speech at the Property Fair, the general election is around the corner and the last thing a politician like Lim would want to do is to disrupt the wealthy developers ‘contributions’ to the DAP.
Hush Hush is our Mole in Penang