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Council panels start hearing assessment objections
The Star Penang 11/1/2005

The Seberang Prai Municipal Council (MPSP) presided over 2,000 cases on the first day of its hearing of objections from ratepayers over this year’s assessment rates.

Four appeal committees headed by councillors Datuk Mahmud Zakaria, Sum Yoo Keong, Othman Omer and Cecilia Wong presided over the cases yesterday.

Hearings are being held in three sessions from 9.30am until noon from Monday to Thursday.

The four panels are expected to preside over 2,000 of the cases per day. More than 23,600 objections were filed.

Council president Md Aris Ariffin said that for northern Seberang Prai, about 30% of the 860 ratepayers who filed objections turned up at the Dewan Datuk Ahmad Badawi here to argue their cases before Sum.

Many did not turn up because they were represented by their resident associations, he said.

About 250 people from housing schemes in Kepala Batas and Tasek Gelugor also turned up here to argue their cases before the panel.

About 1,000 ratepayers attended the hearings in Bukit Mertajam (for central Seberang Prai) and Jawi (for south Seberang Prai).

Reporters were not allowed into the public gallery for the hearing of the cases.

Sungai Puyu assemblyman Phee Boon Poh said non-Malays were not given interpreters to argue their cases.

He pointed out that municipal councillors who pre- sided over the cases were also the ones who approved the appointment of the Kuala Lumpur-based firm to carry out the revaluation exercise.

“There is a conflict of interest here,” he said.

More than 200,000 property owners in the municipality received notice of this year's new assessment rates last November. About 23,600 of them objected to the new rates.

The new rates affect 21,225 commercial and industrial premises as well as 103,361 residential premises within the municipality.

Seberang Prai has 22,995 commercial units, 1,695 industrial units, 76,058 residential units, 36,567 flat units and 57,054 kampung units.

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