By Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjong, Lim Kit Siang, in Penang on Monday, January 17th, 1994:
Why is Dr. Koh Tsu Koon siding with the new owners of the Hotel Metropole property by trying to find an easy way out for them demolishing the heritage building on Christmas Day?
Penang Chief Minister , Dr .Koh Tsu Koon should explain why is Dr. Koh Tsu Koon siding with the new owners of the Hotel Metropole property by trying to find an easy way out for them demolishing the heritage building on Christmas Day.
At a press conference last Saturday , Tsu Koon wanted to give the impression that he was very firm on the hotel Metropole demolition scandal by making the fierce statement that ‘action would be taken against anyone demolishing heritage buildings and violating the law’ and reiterating his support for the MPPP order to Dolphin Square Sdn . bhd to rebuild Hotel Metropole within Six months.
A careful study of his statement however shows that the Penang chief Minister was trying to find an easy way out for the real owners of Dolphin Square Sdn Bhd.
Tsu Koon started by saying that Dolphin Square Sdn Bhd would have to comply with the MPPP guidelines on conservation of heritage buildings and rebuilding the structure, Then he dropped a bombshell with the following statement.
Since this was a category IT building under MPPP guidelines , the company need not rebuild the structure in its entirety but must follow the guideline and restore important parts like the façade.”( New Sunday Times 16/1/94)
Had the Penang Chief Minister inadvertently let the game out of the bag as to what the Gerakan leaders in MPPP the Penang State Government are actually up to on This Hotel Metropole demolition scandal?
I find the latest stnd out of the Penang Chief Minister – that there is no need for Dolphin Square sdn. Bhd to rebuild and restore Hotel Metropole in full but only rebuild the façade – most irresponsible , shocking and scandalous.
It is also the MPPP stand that there is no need o fully rebuild and restore Hotel Metropole but only to rebuild its façade?
The MPPP ,President , Datuk Tan Gim Hwa ,should state publicly whether this is what he meant when the MPPP served notice on Dolphin Square Sdn Bhd on January 3 under Section 27 (2) (a) of the Town and country planning Act 1976 to ‘ restore Hotel Metropole to its original condition ‘ and that he fully agreed with the Penang Chief Minister?
I just cannot believe how a responsible Chief Minister could publicly take such a preposterous position , which is a complete violation of the planning laws in the country.
Either Tsu Koon does not understand the planning laws , or he is deliberately trying to find an easy way out for the new owners of the Hotel Metropole sdn . Bhd for the scandalous and outrageous demolition of Hotel Metropole.
Tsu Koon should consult the State Legal Adviser and get full confirmation that the entire demolition of Hotel Metropole by its new owners on Christmas Day wad=s defined as ‘illegal development’ under the Town and Country Planning Act 1976.
As planning permission was not given by MPPP for the demolition of hotel Metropole on Christmas Day , The order by the MPPP on January 3 under section 27(2) (a) to Dolphin Square Sdn . Bhd to restore the land to its original condition can only means the full rebuilding and restoration of Hotel Metropole.
Will tsu Koon next make the proposal that the new owbers can move the façade to the front of the side to give maximum land area for high rise development of the property?
Tsu Koon now claims that the new owners can apply for planning permission for redevelopment of the hotel Metrople property as the MPPP had removed Hotel Metropole from the 1989 MPPP list of 20 herutage buildings and redeveloped provided the facade of the building is preserved.
But This application for redevelopment can only be submitted by the new owners after it had complied with the MPPP order under Section 27(2) (a) to fully rebuild and restore Hotel Metropole . Otherwise , talk by Tsu Koon that the MPPP reserves the right not to consider future development plans on the land by the company is empty and meaningless.
If Tsu Koon ‘s preposterous position reflects the polic approach of the MPPP and the State Government ,it is a complete mockery of the Town and Country Planning Act ,MPPP planning approvals and the heritage building policies of the State Government and the MPPP.
The message that owners of heritage buildings inpennag will get from this preposterous position of Dr. Koh Tsu Koon will be that the first thing they must do if they want to redevelop their land is to get the MPPP to remove their properties from Category 1 of MPPP Heritage Buildings , where demolition is not allowed and get them on Category 2. Once this is accomplished they could proceed to demolished their heritage buildings in a lighting operation , as the costs for such action are inconsequential when compared to the huge profits they would make from redevelopment. At most , they would have to pay a fine ranging from RM10,000 to RM 50,000 and rebuild a copy of the façade of the building in six months!
If Tsu Koon can make the preposterous and scandalous proposal that all that is required from the new owners of Hotel Metropole for demolishing the heritage building is to rebuild its façade , will the Chief Minister next suggest that the façade could be moved to the front portion or side of the land so that the maximum land area could be given to high – rise development by the new owners?