KUALA LUMPUR, June 7 — Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor has said he merely wanted to negotiate with the federal government for more payment to Kedah over the alleged lease of the state’s land to Penang, denying he wanted to reclaim Penang for his state.
According to local daily Sinar Harian, Sanusi claimed that a narrative had been intentionally played up to give a negative perception and to suggest that those living in Penang would lose the state.
Sanusi reportedly claimed that what Kedah wanted was to ask the federal government to reassess the alleged “lease” of Penang land according to current rates, with Sinar Harian reportedly saying that the issue was not about Kedah wanting to reclaim Penang.
Sanusi also reportedly claimed that he had never asked for the Federal Constitution to be amended to enable Penang to return to Kedah’s hands, alleging that his comments had been misinterpreted.
“The issue of wanting to claim back Penang does not arise, only want to reassess the lease and pay current rates. The narrative played up was for DAP’s political purpose to scare DAP supporters that if you do not support DAP, Penang will be taken over by Kedah,” Sanusi was quoted saying by Sinar Harian.
Today, the police recorded Sanusi’s statement over his purported claim that Penang belongs to Kedah.
Following the police’s interview, Sanusi in a press conference said he had presented documents to the police, including Kedah’s three previous letters to the prime minister to seek for discussion on several matters, including payment for the alleged lease of Penang.
“Based on the agreement before this, the Penang lease payment was RM10,000 per year. Starting from 2018, paid RM10 million and RM10,000. What was to be negotiated with federal is the current rate of the lease payment,” he was quoted saying by Sinar Harian, adding that he had been polite as the Kedah menteri besar on this matter.
Sanusi claimed that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has yet to respond to his letter seeking for talks to evaluate the current rates for the lease payment to be paid to Kedah.
“My focus is to increase the lease payment, which should be possibly RM100 million per year, but the actual assessment should be done by the Valuation and Property Services Department (JPPH),” he said.
Sinar Harian reported Sanusi as not being worried with the police’s investigation, as he said he had based all his remarks on documents which he had handed over to the police.
Sanusi also said the federal government should be wise in distinguishing his role as Kedah menteri besar when pushing for the Kedah government’s claims from his political attacks in political speeches during election campaigns, saying that he plays the role of PAS elections director during the latter events.
National news agency Bernama had in 2015 previously reported that the Kedah sultanate had leased Penang island to the British in 1791 for 6,000 Spanish Dollars and Seberang Perai in 1800 for 4,000 Spanish Dollars, and that the federal government had continued to pay RM10,000 annually to Kedah after the states of then Malaya gained independence.
After Kedah state executive council member Datuk Mohd Rawi Abdul Hamid said in 2017 that the Kedah state government had informed the federal government of its decision to reclaim Penang, Penang’s Tanjong MP Ng Wei Aik had the same year said Kedah’s bid to claim ownership over Penang violates the Federal Constitution which recognises Penang as a state.
On August 8, 2018, then finance minister Lim Guan Eng told the Dewan Rakyat that the Cabinet had agreed for the federal government to make a special contribution of RM10 million per year to the Kedah state government starting from 2018, with this special annual payment being a unilateral undertaking by the federal government and the sum to be reviewed once every 10 years or within a suitable timeframe.
Apart from the special annual payment of RM10 million, Lim had said the special annual payment of RM10,000 to Kedah would be continued.
Lim was responding to a parliamentary question then from Kedah’s Jerlun MP Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir on whether the federal government agrees to review the “land lease value” of Penang which allegedly did not match current property values or whether the federal government would compensate the state of Kedah.
In October 2021, Sanusi was reported demanding that Kedah be paid RM100 million every year for the alleged “lease” of its land to Penang, instead of the RM10 million that the federal government has been paying since 2018.