GEORGE TOWN, Jan 5 — The Penang state government is still undecided about what to do with two plots of vacant land next to the Bandar Baru Air Itam Mosque here, said Penang Deputy Chief Minister I Datuk Ahmad Zakiyuddin Abd Rahman.
He said the land, covering about four acres, belongs to the Penang Island City Council (MBPP) and there had been applications from three parties to use the plots.
“The MBPP wanted to convert the land, lot 7712 and part of lot 7738, into a recreational open space and playground for the local community,” he said.
He said there was an application to build a Tamil primary school, SJKT Rajaji, on Lot 7712 which covers about 2.36 acres.
He said the Bandar Baru Air Itam Mosque had applied to build an Islamic Religious School on part of Lot 7738, which is about 1.45 acres, located near the mosque and adjacent to Lot 7712.
“We are still considering all applications and looking for a suitable solution as there are many factors to consider before we can make any decision on these applications,” he said.
He said Lot 7738 actually covers 2.59 acres of land but part of it was turned into a carpark for the mosque, leaving only 1.45 acres vacant.
He said the mosque had applied to build the religious school on the remaining piece of land on Lot 7738.
As for the adjacent Lot 7712, there is an existing playground on it, for which MBPP has expansion plans.
However, Ahmad Zakiyuddin said there was an application by the Tamil school to build a primary school there.
He refuted allegations by some groups that the state government had approved the Tamil school’s application.
“While we agree education is important, we believe it is also important to have an open recreational space and playground for the local community especially during this Covid-19 pandemic when the people want to exercise outdoors to maintain their health,” he said.
He said the decision would not be an easy one to make, which was why the state is taking so long to consider the applications for the schools and playground.
The mosque committee chairman Baharudin Ibramsah reportedly said they had applied to build the religious school on the remaining Lot 7738 several times from 2013 to 2019.
He claimed the state had approved the Tamil school’s application for Lot 7712 and had chosen to ignore the mosque’s application to build a religious school.