malaysia

PAC mulls A-G probe into Pulau Jerejak project

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 18 — The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is considering asking the Auditor-General to look into the Pulau Jerejak island resort development, which Penang claims has lost the state RM30 million.

The former penal and leper colony was redeveloped into an island resort in 2004 under a joint venture between Penang and Putrajaya’s Urban Development Authority (UDA) Holdings Bhd.

“We may ask Auditor-General to do a special report on Pulau Jerejak to see if it involves federal government money. If it involves federal money then it is under our purview,” PAC chairman Tan Sri Azmi Khalid (picture) told reporters today.

A member of the PAC, Pulai MP Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed, was made UDA chairman last year. He was not present at the PAC meeting today.

Azmi said the PAC will decide tomorrow if it was going to direct the A-G to compile a report.

“I have talked about this unofficially with the Auditor-General but we will officially decide tomorrow,” he said.

The 362ha island off the eastern coast of Penang once served as a penal and leper colony but was turned into a resort by a joint-venture company approved by former Barisan Nasional (BN) Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon.

The remodelled island is now run by Tropical Island Resort (TIR), which owes the state RM10.6 million in unpaid land premium. UDA holds a 51 per cent stake in TIR with the balance owned by state-owned Penang Development Corporation (PDC).

Lim Guan Eng, who is also PDC chairman, said the project had caused the state agency to suffer a RM19 million loss which it cannot recoup.

The Penang chief minister also said almost all usable land on the former leper colony had been handed over to UDA during Koh’s 15-year tenure as chief minister.

He was quoted in the local media today as saying the state government was willing to buy UDA’s stake in TIR if the federal agency paid for the land and land premium.

Pulau Jerejak was first used as a leper asylum in 1868, and 100 years later was made the Jerejak Rehabilitation Centre, a maximum security prison that was finally closed down in August 1993.