Land deal fiasco: Chow told to stop the ‘blame game’

Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow, the centre of attention in a controversial land sale deal of a Penang Development Corporation (PDC)-owned land in Byram to a private company, has been told to restrain himself from blaming others for the fiasco.

(NST) – Former Deputy Chief Minister II Dr P. Ramasamy reminded Chow that the present rot was not in the proverbial Denmark but the PDC, in which Chow is the chairman.

This came after Chow hit out at Ramasamy, who had called for PDC to be restructured following the land deal fiasco, asking the latter why he did not act when he was in power.

Chow had said that Ramasamy, who was the chairman of the PDC human resource committee, was previously tasked with “hiring and firing”.

In a tit-for-tat, Ramasamy said the restructuring of leadership in PDC was the chief minister’s prerogative.

While acknowledging that he was the chairman of the PDC human resource committee, Ramasamy said he was entrusted with the responsibility of selection and recruitment of staff for the PDC and its subsidiary companies for 15 years, or three terms.

He said in the first term, Chow, as a member of the state executive council (Exco), was not a director of the PDC Board and might not know how and in the manner he (Ramasamy) had streamlined the recruitment procedures to enable PDC to have balanced employment.

“My primary concern then was that state government agencies should, to some extent, reflect the population composition of Penang. Some balance was called for.

“In fact, in 2009, there was a policy paper that I presented and adopted in the Exco on the need for balanced employment in state agencies in Penang. This balanced policy enabled the recruitment of Malays and non-Malays based on the merit criteria. Such a policy was also implemented in the Penang Water Company (PBA) and to some extent, in the two local governments.

“Of course, as expected, there was resistance to the policy, but over the years, it brought some degree of balance in recruiting candidates in the state agencies. I was in charge of recruitment but certainly not in restructuring state agencies such as PDC, PBA, or others. Changing or removing the top leadership is the chief minister’s prerogative in consultation with the relevant agencies.

“The problem with Chow is that he is not prepared to disturb the bureaucracy of the state agencies, including the PDC. Due to the recent land deal controversy, the PDC management badly needs rejuvenation. Is Chow prepared to do this or finds it convenient to blame others?” he said today.

Ramasamy said he understood that Chow was under pressure due to the PDC’s controversial land sale to UMECH Land Sdn Bhd.

Yesterday, the Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce (PCCC) used derogatory terms against Chow for failing to rein in the PDC management on the controversial land sale.

“Instead, Chow used the last minister’s unauthorised change of share ownership as the reason for the termination of the land deal. But the problem was not just the change in share ownership, but the land deal between UMECH Land and PDC. Although the controversial land deal has been terminated, questions keep on mounting.

“It indeed serves no purpose in blaming me or others for the current state of affairs in the state. I want to remind Chow that the fault is not in the distant stars but in ourselves.

“Chow should restrain himself from blaming others for the present mess. He should be reminded that the present rot is not in the proverbial Denmark but the PDC,” he added.