Sacked PKR rep: I did not backstab Guan Eng


(The Star) – PKR’s Kebun Bunga assemblyman Cheah Kah Peng (pic) has denied backstabbing Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng in a state assembly vote over an Umno motion against government reclamation projects in the island.

“The meeting a day or two before the state assembly sitting in November was very vague.

“Maybe he (Lim) did say something on the land reclamation issue in passing, but it was very brief.

“That is the reason why I was unable to make a decision (whether to agree or disagree),” he told a press conference at Komtar on Wednesday.

Cheah said he only followed the law when deciding on the issue, adding that his decision to abstain from voting on the motion was based on his personal conscience.

“No sane person would be able to understand why a public-interest decision like this has brought about such a tantrum, not to mention continuous and vicious attacks over the past three months,” he said.

The Umno motion called for public hearings for land reclamation projects and the suspension of all new reclamation plans until oceanic, environmental and social impact studies were carried out.

Cheah said a summary of the state Public Accounts Committee’s “Major Road and Tunnel Project Report” was given to him at a very late stage before the state assembly sitting in November last year.

The report was on a proposal to build a 7.2km-long undersea tunnel to connect the island to the mainland.

“We (some of the assemblymen) had questions which were unanswered.

“Based on the report, the undersea tunnel feasibility report and the required environmental impact assessment report had not been completed, but the state government had agreed to pay RM138,971,572.61 for a feasibility report and design.

“The report was to be paid for by a land swap which involved two lots in Tanjung Pinang and Tanjung Tokong.

“Questions had been raised by a few assemblymen on the land swap and reclamation (during the state assembly sitting in November), and we were unsure how the feasibility study justified such a large payment.

“Thus, the six of us – one from DAP – chose to vote for (the Umno motion), while five from PKR abstained,” he said.

Cheah also hit back at the state government over his removal from the board of Penang Hill Corporation.

“As the assemblyman for Kebun Bunga, Penang Hill is part of my constituency.

“Depriving any Kebun Bunga assemblyman from being part of the PHC board will deny Kebun Bunga constituents their constitutional rights,” he said.

“I will inform my constituents of this grave injustice and continue to assist the people of Penang Hill despite the oppression,” he said, stressing that the position is not important.

Cheah was one of two PKR assemblymen who were sacked from Penang government-linked companies recently because they abstained from voting on a land reclamation motion tabled by Umno at the state assembly in November last year.

The other assemblyman is Bukit Tengah representative Ong Chin Wen, who is also Penang PKR Whip, who lost his director’s post in investPenang and Island Golf Properties Bhd, a subsidiary of Penang Development Corporation.

The other PKR backbenchers who abstained from voting on the motion were Dr Norlela Ariffin (Penanti), Dr T. Jayabalan (Batu Uban) and Lee Khai Loon (Machang Bubuk).