Aliran Article on Guan Eng's Bungalow and Taman Manggis

Written by P Ramakrishnan, Aliran

A person can choose to sell his property at whatever price he wants to sell. It is his prerogative.

It can be way below market value or far above the market price. It is his property and it is his decision. That is not criminal in nature and he has not committed any crime in doing so.

However, if his property was sold below market value in order to receive kickbacks in return, then it is something else. Whatever kickback he gets out of this deal not only will make good what he had lost in the sale, but he will also reap a greater profit from it. That would involve corruption.

The MP for Tasek Glugor, Shabudin Yahya, had implied an element of corruption in the purchase of a house allegedly bought at below market price by the chief minister of Penang. Shabudin had claimed that the purchase of the house in 2015 had links to the 2012 sale of a piece of state government land in Taman Manggis to the private company Kuala Lumpur International Dental Centre Sdn Bhd (KLIDC).

In other words, it was imputed that that piece of land in Taman Manggis was sold below market price in 2012 so that Guan Eng could get his bungalow below market price – three years later – in 2015 as a favour for selling the land cheaply. If that indeed was the case – and if it could be proven conclusively – then there is no question that a corrupt act had taken place.

But is that the case? Mere speculation does not become a fact.

A stamp duty has to be paid on the value of the property bought at the rate of 1% for the first RM100,000, 2% after that till RM500,000 and 3% for anything above RM500,000.

The valuation is done by the Valuation Department, which is a government agency. If the buyer had quoted a certain price for the property and if the Valuation Department came out with a higher valuation for the property, the buyer pays the higher percentage based on the higher valuation, unless that buyer is prepared to challenge that valuation in a court of law.

In the instant case, since the Valuation Department decided that the market price of the property should be RM4.1m, the buyer have had to pay RM39,000 extra in stamp duty on the RM1.3m differential between the transaction price and the valuation level.

Nobody is ever charged for quoting a lower price. It is not a criminal act. It is not an issue at all.

Coming back to the issue of corruption, we are told that the buyer of the bungalow, the chief minister of Penang, was not the chairman of the Tender Board. He wasn’t even a member.

From the relevant facts made available, the Taman Manggis land was sold through an open tender chaired by the State Secretary. It would mean that there were other bidders for the land as well. If that was the case, who then would be the rightful buyer?

Surely it must be the highest bidder. If the land was bought legitimately through the proper tender process, how does the question of corruption come into the picture then?

Is it implied that the entire Tender Board had colluded with the chief minister in selling this particular piece of land to KLIDC below market price? Is the integrity of the members of the Tender Board being questioned? What is the basis for this?

Were the other bidders in the open tender exercise influenced not to offer a higher price so that KLIDC could buy this land at their offered price? Who would have that kind of influence? Was there a puppet master controlling the open tender exercise?

If the entire tender process was above board, how does the question of corruption arise? Is it a cooked-up notion?

Was the element of corruption wilfully manufactured to implicate Guan Eng in the purchase of his bungalow below market price?

If Shabudin has irrefutable evidence to back up his claim, then he should say this publicly outside Parliament. It is a moral obligation. We would support him – indeed urge him – to do so.Guan Eng, who dismisses this allegation as lies, will be compelled to sue Shabudin, who can lay bare the evidence in Court and nail Guan Eng.

If Shabudin is out to get Guan Eng for committing corruption, then this would be the golden opportunity for him to achieve this.

Much hullabaloo is being created now about the affordable housing project that was intended on Taman Manggis – but not implemented – by the former BN government. When the BN was in power, it could have easily completed the housing project for the poor on this piece of land. But it would seem it had squandered that opportunity.

Read the rest of this article written by P Ramakrishnan at

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