Is Guan Eng turning allies into enemies?


The CM comes close to arrogance in dealing with dissenting opinions

Scott Ng, Free Malaysia Today

Some of the more fanatical opposition supporters have often glorified Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng as the epitome of goodness among politicians. They say he has transformed Penang into a clean, orderly, modern state that is well administered. They speak of investments worth billions of ringgit pouring into the state and speculate that within twenty years Penang will look drastically different – in a good way – from all the other states of Malaysia.

However, the aggressive rate at which the state has been reclaiming land is a cause of deep concern among many citizens. The environmentally conscious have been pleading for at least ecological impact studies to be done before these reclamation projects are carried out. Fishermen claim that the projects will wreak havoc on their trade and nature lovers are worried that the pristine rustic beauty that Penang has always been famous for will be lost forever.

These complaints culminated recently with the tabling of a motion in the state assembly by the Pulau Betong assemblyman, Muhamad Farid Saad of Umno. He called for a halt to a 2,600-acre reclamation project. It was noteworthy enough that five PKR representatives abstained from voting, but what was truly remarkable was that one of DAP’s own, Teh Yee Cheu of Tanjung Bungah, voted for the Umno motion.

The motion did not pass, but Guan Eng had an apoplectic meltdown, accusing the PKR reps of siding with Umno. As for Teh, Lim announced to the media that the DAP rep had repented for the sin of not toeing the party line. Who knows what happened behind the scenes. One would have expected Teh himself to announce his repentance. As it turns out, he has decided to quit his position as Penang DAP’s Organising Secretary, apparently out of regret for his show of rebellion. But one must remember that Teh is also an ardent environmentalist.

PKR has defended its reps from the accusation that they were siding Umno, telling Guan Eng that they abstained because their conscience would not allow them to vote against the motion. And really, shouldn’t a lawmaker always be dictated by his conscience?

The PKR reps may not have wanted to stop the reclamation project outright, but we can certainly assume that they wanted to register their belief that the concern against it was legitimate. There are people who will be adversely affected should there be ecological consequences from the project, and as representatives of the people, the assemblymen chose to make a statement.