Guan Eng: No “kowtowing” to Anwar

Written by Regina William, The Edge

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng (DAP – Air Putih) hit out at his detractors, especially those from the Barisan Nasional (BN) who accused him of "kowtowing" to Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) defacto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in the deputy chief minister 1 appointment.

Lim said the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) was a unified force unlike Umno and Gerakan in Penang, which had severed cooperation at the height of the Datuk Ahmad Ismail debacle, which saw several Umno members tearing up Gerakan president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon's portrait.

"We are not like Umno and Gerakan. Has Umno apologised for that incident?" Lim asked.

Datuk Azhar Ibrahim (Umno – Penaga), who is also opposition leader in the state assembly, then said that Umno and Gerakan were on good terms and worked together now, as was evident with Koh's appointment as a Cabinet minister by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

"We visited each other during our respective open houses and even if we disagree on some matters, we still work together in principle.

"Our relationship has been restored, otherwise Koh would not have been appointed a full minister. Is PR feeling threatened that we are working together? he asked.

In his winding up speech, Lim defended his appointment to the tender board of the various state-owned agencies, including the Penang Water Supply Corporation and the Penang Development Corporation (PDC).

Datuk Jasmin Mohammad (BN – Sungai Dua) said Lim's position could be abused as Lim could dole out the tenders to his friends.

"I did not appoint myself but my appointment was made in accordance with the companies' regulations.

"I have even checked with lawyers from the corporate sector and I have not breached any ethical procedures.

"I have not done anything wrong and I do not have so many friends especially since I was a nobody before this. Maybe now, they would want to be my friends. If you want to argue about law, then take me to court," Lim added.

To this, Jasmin said accusations of being biased would emerge and Lim should recuse himself from the tender board to avoid such allegations. Syed Amerudin Syed Ahmad (BN – Bayan Lepas) then said Lim's appointment was not being questioned, but said his decisions made in these tender boards would not be questioned as he was the Chief Minister and had executive powers.

Lim then said if anyone from Umno questioned Najib when he did not relieve Malacca Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam of his position after being found guilty of money politics.

Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahya ((BN-Teluk Bahang) then accused Lim of being evasive and questioned if Lim did not trust the officials he had appointed to the board.

"We are not afraid as we are clean and are not corrupt unlike during the Barisan Nasional rule, which resulted in the legal suit and the state government liable to pay more than RM29 million in the Tang Hak Ju case," Lim added.

Muhammad Farid Saad (BN – Pulau Betong) then said though Lim's appointment was legally right, it was morally wrong and asked who would be responsible if something goes wrong.

"I and the rest of the executive councillors are responsible and we will take responsibility for our actions, unlike the previous BN government which does not want to take responsibility for its actions including losses to the state government," Lim said.

Lim also clarified that Pas vice president Mohamad Sabu was not an independent director and hence was not being paid the RM1,500 allowance.

He said Mohamad Sabu was only paid RM500 in allowance and another RM300 for attending meetings and apologised to Jasmin for the wrong information given to him.

Lim also hit out at Jasmin who had alleged that the newly appointed deputy general manager, former banker Julian Candiah was Lim's "friend".

"Julian is not my personal friend and he was appointed based on his credentials and capabilities.

"He is a Cambridge scholar and he is doing 'national service' in Penang, and despite being offered five-figure salaries in the private sector, he is just being paid an allowance of RM4,000 for his stint with us, which is short-term for a year," Lim added.

He asked why no one questioned the appointments of Wan Zailena Mohd Noordin as general manager of InvestPenang and Datuk Abdul Rahim Uda as the chairman of the Penang Pardons Board to replace Ho Mei Ching.

Later, the House passed three bills, namely to seek for federal loans for the Batu Kawan Arcade Building and Seafood Centre 2009 and Penang Water Supply project (Amendment) 2009 projects and to set up the Penang Chief Minister Incorporated 2009.

Lim also proposed Mustapha Kamal Mohd Yusof, as a senator from Penang, to the Dewan Negara instead of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) deputy Penang chairman Dr Mansor Othman as proposed earlier, fueling talks that Mansor will be fielded by PKR in Penanti as speculated.

The other senator proposed from Penang whose nomination stood was DAP vice chairman Tunku Aziz Tunku Ibrahim.

The House later adjourned sine die.