Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Mixture of deja-vu and nostalgia for Guan Eng in Parliament - The Sun

KUALA LUMPUR (April 29, 2008): Husna Yusop and Llew-Ann Phang

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng (DAP-Bagan) who returned to Parliament after being "missing in action" for two terms found himself missing the sense of history of the august House.

"It looks more of a shopping complex. Of course it is a mixture of deja-vu and nostalgia but I prefer the old Parliament.There was a sense of history then. The Parliament of old had a stronger sense of nostalgia as it was used by our forefathers like Tunku Abdul Rahman but now, it looks like a shopping complex,” he said.

On what he was expecting in the sitting, Lim said: “I will try to come as often as I can and participate as much as I can but my priority is still to govern the state."

His main interests will concern issues of not just Penang but the country’s common interest and values.

Asked what has come about of the DAP’s investigations into the five MPs who had failed to meet the deadline for submission of questions, Lim said he received reports on Monday (April 28) and did not have the chance to look at it.

“Let me look at the reports first before we decide,” he said, when asked if action will be taken against them.

The five were Penang Deputy Chief Minister II Prof. Dr. P. Ramasamy (Batu Kawan), Er Teck Hwa (Bakri), John Fernandez (Seremban), Charles Santiago (Klang) and Hiew King Cheu (Kota Kinabalu).

'Association was meant for BN reps' wives' - NST

BUTTERWORTH: April 30, 2008

Pertubuhan Bunga Tanjung (PBT), the association of wives of Barisan Nasional assemblymen and MPs in the State, was dissolved last month and the RM590,665 in its coffers donated to charitable organisations.

Its former president Puan Sri Chui Kah Peng said PBT was dissolved on March 9 during its annual general meeting attended by 45 members, who represented three-fifths of its membership.

According to Chui, as a non-governmental organisation, the issue on the need for them to vacate their posts following BN's defeat in the state did not arise.

Chui, the wife of former chief minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon, said the association was formed for the wives of BN representatives.

In a statement yesterday, Chui said Article 5 of the PBT Constitution stated that members were to be made up of wives of assemblymen and MPs of Penang, except for those from the Opposition.

"Hence, it is clear that at the time of formation in 1992, PBT was meant for BN representatives' wives and had an affiliation with Bakti (the Association of Wives of Ministers and Deputy Ministers) at the federal level," she said.

Chui, who was one of the founding members of PBT in 1992, said the members had decided that after BN's loss to Pakatan Rakyat, the association would not be able to carry out its objectives in the spirit in which it was founded.

She said the meeting also agreed to donate RM220,000 to the Bureau on Learning Difficulties at its Bold-Bunga Tanjung Centre in Seberang Perai, RM350,000 to Bakti and the balance to the Penang Cheshire Home, Mental Health Association of Penang and Mount Miriam Cancer Hospital.

Chui said following the unanimous decision to dissolve PBT, the committee proceeded to submit the relevant documents to the Registrar of Societies.

Her statement came after Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng ordered State financial officer Datuk Supiah Md Yusof to look into PBT's status and financial records.

Group hits out at Penang government - The Star

PETALING JAYA: April 30, 2008

Fifty-five civil society groups have described the appointment of councillors by the Penang government as “undemocratic and non-transparent, and lacking public consultation.”

The Coalition for Good Governance (CGG) said in a statement here that the appointments “did not meet the principles, criteria and processes of political appointment.”

“The CGG is disappointed with the Penang state government which appointed to local authority councils over 36 politically-partisan members, whose qualifications as community leaders or distinguished achievers are unclear.

“Further, amongst the small contingent of seven non-partisan representatives, the over-representation of commercial interests (five members) vis-à-vis non-commercial non-governmental organisations (two members) is completely unacceptable.

“We urge the state governments of Selangor, Perak and Kedah not to follow the example set by the Penang state government,” it said.

CGG said it was further concerned with certain statements by some Pakatan Rakyat politicians that local authority council elections could only be held with the approval from the Federal Government.

“Notwithstanding any possible opposition from the Federal Government due to Section 15 of the Local Government Act 1976 that abolished local government elections, there is considered legal opinion that state governments nonetheless have the authority to exclude areas within their jurisdiction from the application of the Local Government Act 1976.

“This could be achieved by passing a state enactment to that effect, and gazetting the same. This would pave the way for local authority council elections to take place,” the statement said.

“The CGG therefore calls upon the state governments of Selangor, Perak, Penang, Kedah and Kelantan to proceed to launch their respective roadmaps for the bringing into effect of elections for local authority councils.

“The enabling conditions and structures should be in place by no later than 2010. In this way, local authority council elections may take place by 2011,” said CGG.

Status quo on mega projects in Penang - The Star

PENANG: April 30, 2008

The situation with Penang's mega projects under the Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP) remains unchanged for now.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said this after meeting Second Finance Minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop on Monday to get a clearer picture on the status of the projects in the state, which had been included under the 9MP.

“The situation is the same for now,” he said.

On Saturday, Nor Mohamed said the mega projects under 9MP, which included the Penang Outer Ring Road (PORR) and the monorail, have not reached “approval stage.”

He said the government couldn’t give a commitment on the two projects as they had yet to reach the level where approval was being considered.

However, Lim, in a reaction to the issue, said it was a question of ethics and moral.

“Before the general election, the Federal and previous state government had made commitments that the mega projects had been passed and will be implemented. But their commitments changed after the people’s decision on March 8,” he said.

Lim said if the Federal Government did not intend to live up to its commitment, “it would be making a rash action as the mega projects also involved international parties.”

Keng Yaik blamed for Lee’s departure - The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: April 30, 2008

Gerakan adviser Datuk Seri Dr Lim Keng Yaik is to be blamed for Datuk Lee Kah Choon leaving the party, said some leaders from Kuala Lumpur-Federal Territory Gerakan.

Kuala Lumpur-Federal Territory Gerakan chairman Datuk Dr Tan Kee Kwong, who led the group of leaders, told a press conference that Dr Lim, as a party adviser should not have labelled Lee an “opportunist and a political frog” after Lee accepted the directorship of Penang Development Corporation and InvestPenang.

Dr Tan said Dr Lim’s action had forced the party leadership to ask for a show-cause letter from Lee, which in turn forced him to quit the party.

“At the time of his acceptance, Lee stressed that he remained and wished to remain as an ordinary Gerakan member.

“Hence, there is no crossing over in the case of political katak, as was the case when Dr Lim himself joined Gerakan after being expelled from MCA in the early 70s,” he told a press conference at the Federal Territory Gerakan office yesterday.

“We regret that a capable leader who was deemed fit to be a potential Chief Minister of Penang by party leadership just less than 60 days ago, is now deemed to be inexperienced and an opportunist.

“We regret that a capable leader has been forced out of the party as a result of the action by Dr Lim. We would like to advise Dr Lim to stick to what he said publicly when he announced his retirement – that he would only give advice when asked for.

“By giving unsolicited advice publicly over party matters over the past few months, he has done the party image a lot of damage.”

Dr Tan said because of that, Dr Lim should quit as party adviser, not interfere in party affairs, retire graciously and devote more time to his family,” he added.

He said that when Lee accepted the posts, he was only an ordinary party member with no decision-making status in the party and it would not have jeopardised the party’s interests.

Furthermore, Lee was putting people’s interest above his self-interest by accepting the appointments that were non-political and that sort of behaviour should be encouraged.

Dr Tan also announced he would not stand for state and division level elections.

The Segambut Gerakan division chairman said he would, however, retain his Taman Bunga Gerakan branch chairman post.

Don’t take Kah Choon’s move lightly, says Dr M - The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: April 30, 2008

The decision by former Gerakan deputy secretary-general Datuk Lee Kah Choon to accept a job under the Penang DAP Government should not be taken lightly by Barisan Nasional if it wishes to survive and regain the people’s support, says Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

The former prime minister said in a letter that Lee might be motivated by a genuine desire to work for the good of Penang and Malaysia but, “it may also be because loyalty to Barisan is now based on personal gains or fear of punishment of some kind.”

He said this was especially so among the leaders and there was no genuine love for the objectives said to be the raison d’etre for the coalition’s existence.

Dr Mahathir added that if the Opposition were able to provide a good government, look after the interests of ordinary people, and lead a Spartan lifestyle, those who voted for them out of anger against Barisan would transfer their loyalty permanently to them.

When that happens, he said Umno and the other component parties could forget about recapturing the states they lost to the Opposition and their turncoat members would remain turncoats who would actively work against Barisan in the next elections.

“To lose once is bad but to lose a second time is an unmitigated disaster,” he said.

Dr Mahathir said unless drastic action was taken now there would not be enough time to rehabilitate Umno and all the other component parties for the next general election.

Penang Has Second Highest Broadband Penetration After KL

PENANG, April 29 (Bernama)

Penang recorded 26 per cent broadband penetration per 100 households in the fourth quarter of 2007, higher than the national average of 15.5 per cent during the same period.

According to a statistic issued by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission, the percentage put Penang in the second highest spot in terms of broadband penetration after the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur.

In this respect, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the government would continue to promote the state to attract more local and foreign investors to venture into the information and communication technology related industries.

"The state government is focusing on the multimedia industry and animation as well as shared services and outsourcing as those are the growth potentials for Penang," he said.

He was speaking at the presentation of Penang Chief Minister's Knowledge-based Information and Communication Technology 2007 award Tuesday night.

Penang gov't gets more flak over appointments - Malaysiakini

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Penang CM unperturbed by uproar over Lee's appointment

55 NGO kecewa k'jaan P. Pinang - Malaysiakini

Apr 29, 08 3:23pm

Sekumpulan badan bukan kerajaan (NGO) kecewa dengan kerajaan Pulau Pinang berhubung pelantikan anggota majlis pihak berkuasa tempatan negeri itu yang dianggap "tidak demokratik, kurang rundingan dengan pihak awam dan tidak telus."

Pakatan untuk Urus Tadbir Baik (CGG), gabungan 55 NGO, berkata pelantikan itu memberatkan kumpulan perniagaan dan membelakangkan wakil-wakil NGO.

"CGG kecewa dengan kerajaan negeri Pulau Pinang yang melantik ke majlis pihak berkuasa tempatan 36 anggota parti politik yang diragui kewibawaan mereka sebagai pemimpin masyarakat.

"Tambahan pula, daripada sejumlah tujuh wakil tanpa parti politik, perwakilan berlebihan yang diberikan kepada kumpulan perniagaan (lima anggota) berbanding kumpulan NGO (dua anggota) sama sekali tidak boleh diterima," kata jurucakapnya Yap Swee Seng hari ini.

"Cara kerajaan Pulau Pinang melantik anggota majlis pihak berkuasa tempatan tidak demokratik, kurang rundingan dengan pihak awam dan tidak telus."

Yap, yang juga pengarah eksekutif Suaram, berkata amalan di Pulau Pinang itu tidak sewajarnya ditiru oleh tiga lagi negeri Pakatan Rakyat - Selangor, Perak dan Kedah.

Sambil memuji langkah Selangor membuka ruang perundingan dengan NGO seperti janji menteri besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim pada 16 April, CGG juga senang dengan komitmen negeri itu untuk memperkenalkan enakmen kebebasan maklumat dan badan hisbah.

"CGG melihat (komitmen negeri) ini sebagai satu permulaan yang baik untuk kerjasama antara kerajaan Selangor dengan NGO," kata kumpulan itu dalam satu kenyataan.

"CGG juga gembira menteri besar bersetuju mengadakan pertemuan berkala agar dialog antara dua pihak itu akan berlanjutan. Menteri besar akan bertemu lagi dengan CGG dalam tempoh tiga bulan dari sekarang.

"Dalam hal ini, kerajaan Selangor telah menunjukkan jalan untuk dicontohi oleh semua kerajaan negeri."

Gerakan branch leaders rap party adviser, defend Lee - The Star


A group of leaders from Kuala Lumpur-Federal Territory Gerakan are unhappy with party adviser Datuk Seri Dr Lim Keng Yaik for calling former deputy secretary-general Lee Kah Choon a "political frog."

Kuala Lumpur-Federal Territory Gerakan chairman Datuk Dr Tan Kwee Kwong was especially vocal, accusing the former party chief of causing a lot of damage to the party and urging him to quit.

Dr Lim was very critical of Lee after he accepted the Pakatan Rakyat-led Penang state government's offer to become InvestPenang executive chairman and director of the Penang Development Corporation.

This led to a show-cause letter being issued by the party, to which Lee did not respond; he instead resigned from the party. He was by then only a regular member, having quit all official Gerekan posts to take responsibility for the party's poor showing in the March 8 general eklection.

Speaking about Dr Lim's censure of Lee, Dr Tan said, "We regret that a capable leader who was deemed fit to be a potential Chief Minister of Penang by the party leadership just 60 days ago, was now being deemed 'inexperienced' and labelled an 'opportunist'."

"We regret that a capable leader has been forced out of the party as a result of the action by Dr Lim.

"By giving unsolicited advice publicly over party matters over the past few months, he has done a lot of damage to the party's image," Dr Tan said, adding that Dr Lim should quit his post as party adviser and not interfere in party affairs.

"Perhaps he should now retire graciously and devote more time to his family," he added.

Dr Tan also said he would not stand for state and division level elections. The Segambut Gerakan division chairman said he would however retain his post as Taman Bunga Gerakan branch chairman.

"I make the decision to make way for other people in the party and to concentrate on my business. I came to this decision after much consultation and thought," he told a press conference by a group of Kuala Lumpur-Federal Territory Gerakan leaders at the Federal Territory Gerakan office here Tuesday.

Asked whether he planned to contest for top posts at the national level, he said, "I don't know. There are many more months to go."

Gerakan acting president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon earlier said that majority of the party members wanted its elections to be held this year, contrary to its January decision to postpone it to next year.

Thumbs up for open tender system - The Star

April 29, 2008

MANY residents in Seberang Prai are supportive of a call for garbage collection and solid waste management to be given to capable companies through an open tender system.

Seberang Jaya resident M. Karthi, 44, said it was high time that capable companies be given a chance to undertake garbage collection on the mainland.

“We badly need a change. The work carried out by the present contractors is below satisfactory.

“Open tender is the best way to ensure that the citizens would obtain maximum benefits from the more competent companies undertaking the task,” he said in an interview on Sunday.

Last week, former Jawi assemblyman Tan Cheng Liang said the Seberang Prai Municipal Council should use an open tender system to select competent companies to handle solid waste management and garbage collection.

She said through an open tender, the council could obtain the best proposals to do the job more effectively and efficiently.

Presently, Tan said, the council used a turnkey system to award contracts to selected companies to do the job.

Taman Tambun Jaya Residents Association (RA) chairman Chew Ong Leng, 44, said the council should display mobile phone numbers of the garbage collection contractors in all residential and commercial areas.

Wisma Telaga Residents Association chairman Shaik Ali Md Hussain, 74, said he made numerous complaints to the council on badly clogged drains behind Jalan Kampung Benggali in Butterworth, but they were futile.

Taman Senangin resident N. Balakrishnan, 58, said the Seberang Prai municipal councillors should go to the ground at least once a week to check on the services provided by the council’s contractors.

Newly appointed municipal councillor Teoh Seang Hooi said he supported Tan’s call, noting that he would raise the matter in the next full council meeting.

Guan Eng’s able assistants - The Star

April 29, 2008 By CHRISTINA CHIN

THE new Penang chief minister has been described as a "human dynamo" - working almost non-stop since his appointment and his 13-member staff at the Komtar Tower are working equally hard to catch up with him.

Just over a month into office, Lim Guan Eng, who is also DAP secretary-general, has been meeting political leaders, potential investors and his constituents while entertaining endless media requests and attending official events seven days a week.

Helping him juggle his demanding schedule and unending workload are several key staff members like his chief-of-staff Jeff Ooi, political secretary Ng Wei Aik and press secretary Cheong Yin Fan.

Ooi, who is also Jelutong MP, said a typical day started at 7.30am at Lim’s 28th floor office, ending only around midnight.

“As chief of staff, my duties include gathering and analysing intelligence reports; coordinating party matters, government duties and the civil service and planning investment and tourism directions for the state. Mainly, my job involves handling backroom issues and lending my brain-power,” he laughed.

“It’s not easy and I am burning both ends of the candle because I cannot neglect my constituency responsibilities,” he said.

Similarly, it is double duty for Ng, who is also Komtar assemblyman.

“Besides looking after my constituents, I help the chief minister handle party matters and queries which he is unable to attend to.

“These days, most of his appointments and meetings involve state administration rather than party matters. He is constantly at meetings with elected representatives and officers.

“Since his appointment, there have been hundreds of requests to meet him. We summarise and show him all appointment re-quests and he decides which to prioritise. Then, I’ll make the appointments,” he said.

A former reporter, Cheong knows the rigorous demands of her job as she was used to be on the other side of the fence.

“Now, my responsibility is to assist members of the media. The first two days after Lim was elected, his phone was ringing non-stop. I was answering the calls until my hand became numb and the phone finally conked out!

“When it comes to the press, he is very fair. He does not want any reporter to miss a story and will even repeat his statement several times if necessary.

“If he can help it, Lim never says no to answering a reporter’s question. He does not shy away from issues,” she said, adding that since last month, he had given more than 20 interviews to both the local and foreign media.

“There are more than 30 requests still pending and we will try our best to accommodate these journalists.

“It is a challenge because he is already working seven days a week – sometimes attending up to five press events a day,” she said, adding that for the first few weeks when he took over as chief minister, she did not take any day off.

“He is very hardworking so I have to keep up,” she said.

Reps rehearse for big day - The Star

April 29, 2008 By CHRISTINA CHIN

THE upcoming state assembly is expected to be a fiery affair with 11 Opposition members vowing to represent the voices of all Penangites.

On Friday, 40 of the state’s assemblymen will be sworn in at the state assembly building in Light Street. The state assembly proper is expected to convene in June or early July.

Sungai Puyu incumbent Phee Boon Poh’s prediction during last year’s state assembly sitting has come true – the former state government has now become the state’s Opposition with Pakatan Rakyat winning 29 of the 40 state seats.

An amused Phee recalls how the tables have turned.

“On the last day of the state assembly in November, I tried to get the Barisan ADUNs to support my motions to debate the Sungai Nyior toll and the erection of Chinese language signage boards at historical sites.

“My compatriot from PAS – Permatang Pasir assemblyman Mohd Hamdan Abd Rahman was absent from the state assembly as his relative passed away.

“I was the sole Opposition representative and not only did no one want to support my motions for a debate, I was laughed at,” he said.

Phee recalled how he looked directly at then Penaga assemblyman Datuk Azahar Ibrahim (now the state’s Opposition leader) and said: “You can laugh but God willing, at the next state assembly, I will be sitting here as a state executive councillor and you will be here as an Opposition member.”

“The roles are reversed but I hope the Barisan representatives will serve the people as an effective Opposition,” he said.

Among the fresh faces spotted at the 40-minute rehearsal yesterday was Pantai Jerejak assemblyman Sim Tze Tzin.

Sporting a stripy black suite with a bright blue tie, first timer Sim said he was “honoured” to be part of the state assembly.

“I have done my homework and I am ready to raise issues that concern all Penangites.

“Because the Opposition members are experienced, we must not be caught unprepared.

“No doubt being an assemblyman is a steep learning curve and I want to assure the public that my colleagues and I will not be any less critical of the administration now that Pakatan Rakyat is the state government,” he said.

Sim was among several assemblymen who attended the rehearsal in full formal attire.

“I bought this suit just before the March 8 polls because I needed to have my picture taken for some general election materials,” he laughed.

According to a spokesman at the state secretariat office in Komtar, this was the first time a rehearsal for the state assembly swearing in ceremony was conducted.

“The rehearsal was initiated by us because there are many first-timers this time around.

“Those who are familiar with the protocol were not invited.

“Although there are two new assemblymen among the 11 Opposition members, we did not invite them because the Opposition members will only be sworn in after the state government representatives are sworn in.

“They can easily follow the protocol by observing the other ADUNs on that day,” he said, adding that during the rehearsal, assemblymen Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin (Penanti), Abdul Malik Kassim (Batu Maung) and Lim Hock Seng (Bagan Jermal) rehearsed among the first to be sworn in.

Mohammad Fairus is also state Deputy Chief Minister (I).

“The other 20-odd assemblymen present were basically there to observe and to get an idea of what to expect,” he said, adding that Air Puteh assemblyman Lim Guan Eng, Prai assemblyman Dr P. Ramasamy and Padang Kota assemblyman Chow Kon Yeow attended an earlier rehearsal on Saturday.

“They are all MPs so they couldn’t make it today. They are in Kuala Lumpur for the MP swearing in ceremony,” he said.

Asked whether he expected any surprises during the state assembly swearing in ceremony, Bukit Tambun Law Choo Kiang said he had “a feeling” the Opposition would nominate their own Speaker and Deputy Speaker.

“It is their democratic right and I foresee that they will exercise that right,” he said.

Last month, Lim announced that the coalition would propose to the state legislative assembly to appoint Abdul Halim Hussain and Tan Hock Leong from PKR as state assembly Speaker and deputy Speaker.

When met at the rehearsal, Abdul Halim and Tan said they were both prepared to shoulder the responsibility if their nominations were accepted.

“We have read through the procedures and relevant regulations so there is nothing to be nervous about. Rest assured, we will be fair and transparent in conducting the proceedings,” Tan said.

Abdul Halim said he would be a “proactive speaker” if accepted.

“I have many plans including inviting university students and Village Security and Development Committee (JKKK) leaders to come and observe the proceedings,” he said, adding that there would be no debates or questions raised.

“There will only be a swearing in ceremony,” he said, adding that the chief minister would usually be the one who nominates the Speaker.

“The deputy chief minister I will second the nomination and if there are no other names proposed, we will be sworn in.

“However, if the Opposition proposes other candidates, a secret vote will be held. The new Speaker will then take his oath and start with the task of chairing the state assembly.

“The other state assemblymen will then be sworn in before the deputy Speaker is nominated and sworn in,” he explained.

During the recently concluded election, the DAP won 19 seats, PKR nine and PAS one.

All Opposition members are from UMNO.

Penang to probe financial records of wives club, too - The Star

PENANG: April 29, 2008

The state government has ordered its state financial officer to look into the status of Persatuan Bunga Tanjung, the association for former Barisan National state assemblymen wives, and its financial records.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said he had asked Datuk Supiah Md Yusof to report back to him his findings.

Former chief minister Tan Sri Koh Tsu Koon’s wife, Puan Sri Chui Kah Peng, headed Bunga Tanjung.

It is understood the former officer bearers of the association have yet to vacate their seats even though the new state government took over the administration of the state last month. The wives of the DAP state assemblymen have yet to take over the membership of the organisation.

A source said Bunga Tanjung has about RM250,000 in its bank account.

Attempts to get the several wives of the former Barisan state assemblymen failed while DAP assemblymen refused to comment on the status of the association or the membership of their wives.

In Alor Star, the Wives of Kedah Assemblymen and Parliamentarians Welfare Body (Bidara) just has a token sum in its coffers, according to Bidara president Datin Seri Noraini Abdullah. She said funds were usually disbursed immediately after a fund-raising campaign.

“We do not accumulate funds. We hold fundraisers as and when the need arises. Usually in a year, we choose 10 charitable organisations and orphanages.

“We also give aid to needy handicapped people and hardcore poor folks. But we do not give aid to the same people year after year. We give aid to different groups of people each year,” she said yesterday.

She said that Bidara would continue to operate as usual, although Kedah was now under the Pakatan Rakyat Government.

Bidara is a non-governmental organisation that would continue to be under the control of the wives of present and past Barisan National elected representatives, she said.

Noraini also said Bidara was not giving up its RM300,000 premises at Jalan Sultanah.

“That premises is Bidara property. We do not see why we cannot continue operating from there.”

State executive councillor Amiruddin Hamzah said that wives of Pakatan Rakyat elected representatives might set up a similar body if it was legally not possible to take over Bidara.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Fairus To Appoint Disabled Persons In His Portfolios

PENANG, April 28 (Bernama)

Penang Deputy Chief Minister Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin will appoint disabled persons in the three state portfolio committees he chairs.

Fairus who is Religious Affairs; Entrepreneur and Cooperative Development; and Information and Social Relations Committee chairman, said at least one disabled person would be appointed in each of the portfolios.

The move was to enable disabled persons get involved in the process of formulating state policies, he told reporters after the opening the new Penang branch office of the Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA) by the Yang Dipertua Negeri Tun Abdul Rahman Abbas here Monday.

Fairus said disabled persons may have new ideas which could be of help to the state government in formulating policies to ensure that they were comprehensive.

"We have to hear their views especially on their needs to enable us to be people-friendly in our policies. I am setting the pace for my other state executive council colleagues," he said.

He said the state government also planned to open a special religious school for disabled students.

Penang airport's poor security cause of influx of illegals - NST

BUTTERWORTH, Mon: April 28, 2008 By S. Arulldas

Poor security at the Penang International Airport in Bayan Lepas has been blamed for the influx of illegal workers in the state.

State Welfare, Health and Caring Society Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh said the lax security at the airport allowed foreigners to enter the state and stay here illegally.

"Those arriving from certain countries, such as China and Indonesia where we have direct flights, can easily evade the immigration officials.

"They loiter around the arrival area, for instance at the shops or in the toilets, and wait for the queue at the immigration and customs to clear. When there are no longer officers manning the counters, they will walk out of the arrival area without being detected,” claimed Phee.

He said this after attending the International Workers Memorial Day event at a monument beside the Penang Bridge toll plaza in Prai yesterday.

Phee placed a wreath at the monument which was built in memory of those who sacrificed their lives during the construction of the Penang Bridge.

He said syndicates and employment agencies were aware of the lack of security at the airport and were taking advantage of the situation to bring in more illegal workers for the manufacturing sector.

"We are also aware of irresponsible employers who employ foreign workers at the expense of local workers," he said.

Asked whether the airport authority was aware of the problem, Phee said they should know of it as it was not a new problem and had been highlighted in the press before.

Phee: What second bridge land issue? - The Sun

GEORGE TOWN (April 28, 2008): By Opalyn Mok

The Second Penang Bridge's full plan and design have yet to be confirmed and neither land parcels have been identified for acquisition, the state government revealed today.

"That being the case, it is puzzling for the Barisan Nasional (BN) federal government to say land acquisition was one problem delaying the project," said Penang Health, Welfare and Caring Society Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh.

Phee, who also sits in the state's newly formed Second Bridge Implementation Committee, said there were no land matter issues to resolve because no land was earmarked for the project.

"They (federal government) have not even drawn up the plans for the bridge, what more talk about land acquisition. They have also not contacted us about land acquisition," he added.

This "confusion" over land problems could be one of the factors for the delay in the project which was scheduled to complete in 2011. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had recently announced that it would be delayed by at least nine months.

Abdullah had claimed the delay were due to land acquisition problems, design and rising costs.

Earlier, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the state government was left in the dark over the progress of the project except what is reported in newspapers.

He then formed the committee to resolve any land matter issues which may arise from the project.

The proposed 24km bridge will link the island and Seberang Prai between Batu Maung and Batu Kawan. The project is under the purview of the federal government.

Penang wants to discuss 9MP projects with Federal Govt - NST


Unsure of the status of projects for the state under the Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP), Penang Chief Minister Lim Guang Eng wants to have further discussions on the projects with the Federal government.

Lim said as of now, he was not sure whether the projects, including the monorail, would proceed or be delayed, so he would need more information on the matter from the federal government.

“That’s why I think it’s better for us to meet face-to-face on the matter rather than finding out about it from media reports which may not be accurate,” he said when asked about the 9MP projects in Penang, after attending the Dewan Rakyat sitting here today.

Lim said Second Finance Minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop had informed him today that a local media report yesterday which said the monorail project would be temporarily shelved, was not true.

“I was made to understand by him (Nor Mohamed) that there were two conflicting reports on the matter. Which one should we believe? I like to believe the more positive report,” he added.

Lim stressed that the state government would give its full cooperation and support to whatever projects that could benefit the people in the state.

Meanwhile, he refuted the statement by former Penang chief minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon that the state government had given the contract for the monorail project to the Melewar Group.

“We have only received a proposal and are looking at it. I think in a week and two weeks’ time we will be briefed by Malaysian Resources Corporation Bhd (on the proposed project).

“The state government has not made any decision on this. If there is, we will tender out the project. We have not made a decision and then only will issue an open tender as claimed (by Koh),” Lim said

Stop causing anxiety Dr Loh - The Star

April 28, 2008

THE Penang Port Sdn Bhd (PPSB) has been told to stop “making the people worried” about its plan to scrap the vehicular ferry service when the expansion of Penang Bridge is completed.

Penang Port Commission (PPC) chairman Datuk Dr Loh Hock Hun said PPSB should be careful with its words because it was not up to the company to decide whether to continue with the ferry service or not.

“We have not received anything in black and white from PPSB about bringing the ferry service to a halt or increasing the ferry fare,” said Dr Loh, adding that any changes of policy regarding the ferry service must be approved by PPC and later the Transport Ministry.

PPC, which is governed by the ministry, is the regulatory body of PPSB.

Dr Loh was speaking to reporters after announcing the preparations for the Penang Wesak Celebration on May 19.

An estimated 8,000 people will be joining the Wesak Day procession, together with 42 contingents and 20 floats, from Pangkor Road to Anson Road from 5pm on May 19.

Devotees who wish to donate flowers to decorate the Buddha float can bring the flowers from 10am on May 17 to midnight the following day.

“Devotees are advised not to bring flowers that are too small and they must understand we cannot place the flowers according to where they wish the flowers to be placed,” said Loh.

This year, the Buddha float has been renovated with a new background design and the transfer of the Buddha statue to the main float will be done on May 17 at 10am.

Dr Loh said the Penang Wesak Celebrations Committee did not conduct house-to-house visits to raise funds.

“Donors can come to the Malaysian Buddhist Association to donate and receipts will be issued to them,” added Loh, while alerting the public to possibilities of swindlers attempting to abuse the name of the committee for Wesak Day donations.

14 students waiting for their diplomas - The Star

April 28, 2008

FOURTEEN students who have completed their hotel tourism and management diploma course in Penang last year have yet to receive their certificates.

The students, worried about their future and employment, approached Seri Delima assemblyman R.S.N. Rayer at his office on Jalan Zainal Abidin on Friday for help.

S. Rupyni, 22, said she enrolled into the college on February 2005 for a year-long course that was accredited by the Hotel and Tourism Institute (HTI) in Switzerland.

“I completed the course last year but I am still waiting for my diploma to be issued,” she said.

In a predicament: Rayer holding the receipts for the fees paid by the students for the course.

She said she approached one of the college directors recently but was told the school was unable to obtain their papers as they still owned HTI some RM100,000. She was worried that she might not see her certificate as promised by the school.

Rupyni claimed she and 26 others were in a predicament over their future without having proper documentations to apply for jobs.

She and 13 others, all of whom had paid a total of RM150,000 as part of the course fee, approached Rayer for help.

Rayer said he would ask Deputy Chief Minister II Dr P. Ramasamy to look into the matter.

He said he would seek HTI clarification to see if the college was accredited and approved to conduct the course.

A college spokesman said they were unable to give out the certificates as some of the students had yet to pay their fees amounting to about RM100,000.

He said some of them also had to resit their examinations.

“We are in the process of resolving the RM100,000 we owe HTI. We assured those who have paid their fee that they will receive their diploma by this year,” he said.

Give Lee room to serve Penang well - The Star

April 28, 2008 COMMENT BY V.K.CHIN

NOW that he has resigned from the Gerakan, Datuk Lee Kah Choon should be left in peace to carry out his new assignments with the Penang government.

After his appointment as director of the Penang Development Board and chairman of InvestPenang, Lee was criticised by Barisan Nasional leaders for accepting the two positions.

Their objection is due to the fact that with the state government now under Pakatan Rakyat or DAP control, no Barisan member should be working with the enemy.

Lee had earlier resigned as Gerakan deputy secretary-general and remained an ordinary member, believing that this would be more acceptable to his party.

With the furore created by his action, he was forced to resign his Gerakan membership in order to put a stop to the controversy. His explanation that the appointments had nothing to do with politics did not placate his critics.

Ending his long-term relationship was the only option left since he would just like to be left alone to concentrate on his new duties.

We have to accept his reasons that he did it because he wanted to serve the people in the state after having done his bit at the federal level as the health ministry’s parliamentary secretary.

It will be no loss to him to quit the party as people realise, with the exception of some die-hards, that with the present leaders in charge, the Gerakan will have difficulty rebuilding its strength after its comprehensive defeat in the recent general election.

He was undoubtedly one of the more capable leaders in the party but was constantly sidelined in the state administration because he was a threat to some of his colleagues.

However, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, who is also the DAP secretary-general, must have seen something in Lee to offer him the jobs.

In fact, Lim should expect some hostility from his own party members who would have expected to be rewarded with some official appointments for their contributions.

Instead, it was the Barisan which had criticised Lee for helping the DAP. The people of Penang would be puzzled by all the fuss since why should anyone be attacked for offering their services to improve their state?

If Gerakan leaders should attack Lee it should be over his performance at the two state agencies and not his personal character. He should be given time to tackle the immense task before him.

It is also obvious that Lee has his own ideas on how to improve the state’s economy through investment. The previous administration had certainly fallen short in attracting more industries to provide jobs for the people.

It is a fact that the state had stagnated in the past two decades, resulting in a slowdown in development and lack of proper infrastructure to deal with crucial economic and social issues.

If there is someone who feels that he can do something to reverse the situation, he should be given a chance to prove his worth. If he should fail to perform, then that would be the time to take him to task.

Karpal: Villagers can stay put - NST

GEORGE TOWN: April 28, 2008

Residents living at Kampung Buah Pala, an Indian village in Bukit Gelugor here, are entitled to live there as the land had not been lawfully transferred to a co-operative, said Bukit Gelugor MP Karpal Singh.

He said the land on which 350 residents lived was still a subject matter of a housing trust created in 1953.

"The co-operative cannot be the owner of the land. The registration of land ownership does not make them the lawful owner," Karpal said at a press conference at the village yesterday. Present were Seri Delima assemblyman R.S.N. Rayer and Batu Uban assemblyman S. Raveentharan.

Citing the incident on Thursday where the developer attempted to evict the families from their houses, Karpal said the developer could only do so with a court order.

"What it did on Thursday amounts to criminal intimidation and I urge the police to study the report that we have lodged."

He also hoped the police would not be a part of attempts to evict the villagers as "they had no business or court order to do so".

Nizar, Guan Eng call for end to preventive laws - The Star

IPOH: April 28, 2008

Two Pakatan Rakyat state leaders have called for the abolition of the Internal Security Act (ISA).

While Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin said certain provisions Act at least needed to be reviewed if not repealed, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng went step further, asking for the Official Secrets Acts (OSA) to be done away with as well.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar had on Saturday said that preventive laws, including the ISA, would not be abolished.

Commenting on a claim by PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim that Pakatan Rakyat would abolish preventive laws should it rule the country, Syed Hamid had said that such laws serve the purpose of maintaining public order.

Lim said he regretted Syed Hamid's decision.

“The fact that you have the ISA and OSA (shows that) you want to frighten the people,” he told a press conference at the Mount Miriam Hospital “Ho Chiak” Charity Food and Fun Fair in Penang yesterday.

“Of course, you cannot frighten political leaders, especially those who have been held under the ISA before,” he added.

Nizar noted that the ISA detention camp was in Kamunting, Perak, and as the new mentri besar he had to answer to the families of the detainees.

“Most definitely the parents and other family members to the more than 80 detainees would come to me and ask what is happening there,” he said in his speech at the Tow Boo Keong temple.

“Please, if there is any room for review over the provisions in the act, do it. Or abolish the ISA completely.”

Nizar added that at the very least the detainees should be given the opportunity to interact with their lawyers and allow their cases to be tried in court.

“Now, they are detained without trial. This is not justice,” he said.

Nizar revealed that he had first broached the matter with the Prime Minister during their first hour-long meeting on April 18, adding that he was the first mentri besar to do so.

In TAIPING, a group gathered in front of the Kamunting detention centre at 5.45pm pressing for the release of all ISA detainees.

Hindraf coordinator S. Jeyathas told reporters that the ISA should be abolished and he hoped newly-elected MPs would look into the matter

Koh: Projects must go on - The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: April 28, 2008

All Federal Government projects committed before the March 8 elections must be carried out for the benefit of the people of Penang, Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon said.

The former Penang chief minister said this included the Second Bridge and the Monorail projects.

He denied the Federal Government was giving the Pakatan Rakyat Government in Penang a hard time and punishing Penangites for voting in the then Opposition.

“I would be the first to disagree if the intention is to punish Penangites,” he told reporters yesterday after chairing the Gerakan central working committee meeting.

The Gerakan acting president said he had already made his stand as early as in the first week after the general election – that all federal projects in the state should go on.

He stressed that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had also made this clear. “As far as the Second Bridge is concerned, it’s already committed, and should go ahead.”

However, he pointed out that in big infrastructure projects like the Penang Second Bridge or the Monorail, there were bound to be technical and financial problems, which would result in some delays regardless of whether the state was under the Barisan or Pakatan.

He said delays to the bridge project started even before March 8.

On Saturday, Second Finance Minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop said mega projects in the state like the Monorail and the Penang Outer Ring Road might not take off as they had not reached “approval” stage yet.

To this, Dr Koh said, there was some confusion over the Monorail project.

He said before March 8, the state government spent a lot of time discussing and engaging Federal Government departments on the project, and four companies had submitted proposals, each with different alignments.

In Petaling Jaya, Nor Mohamed said the Federal Government was sincere about working with the Pakatan-led Penang government, and had no intention of cancelling projects announced under the 9th Malaysia Plan.

He said the three-hour Penang Federal Action Council meeting which he chaired on Saturday was to call for more cooperation with the state government, accelerate projects and overcome problems such as land acquisition, and to discuss cost controls.

“The Prime Minister has said that he is the Prime Minister for all. It applies to Penangites as well. The election is behind us now,” he said.

“Projects under the 9MP will continue to be implemented subject to details and procedures, including land acquisition. We will cooperate with the state government in the interest of Penangites.”

Guan Eng: It’s a new form of colonialism

PENANG: April 28, 2008 By CAROLYN OOI

Re-routing the Entrepreneur and Cooperative Development Ministry funds via a different body such as Mara is a new form of colonialism, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said.

Lim hoped Minister Datuk Noh Omar would reconsider the decision as such a move would give a wrong impression to the public.

For years, it has been the practice by the Ministry to channel funds worth RM100 mil a year to the respective State Economic Development Corporations.

The money was used for purposes such as upgrading facilities and financing programmes for the benefit of the people.

However, on Saturday Noh announced that the funds would be channelled via Mara, to prevent the rakyat from being "victimised". He did not explain what he meant by the word "victimised".

Such a move was tantamount to forming a parallel government, Lim told reporters during the Mount Miriam Hospital "Ho Chiak" Charity Food and Fun Fair on Sunday.

Lim said that even now there was a separate tourism action council in the state, and the council did not have representatives from the state.

“If this goes on and they (federal government) set up a parallel system and parallel frameworks or other councils, it would be seen as a form of colonialism.

He said the state government would not object to the setting up of similar type of action councils but there should be state representation.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

So into politics - The Star

Focus on ADUN

Full name: Chow Kon Yeow (DAP)
Age: 49
Marital status: Married
Children: Two sons
Constituency: Tanjung, Penang
Education: B. Social Sciences (Hons) USM
Profession: Full-time politician

PENANG State Executive Councillor Chow Kon Yeow is an unassuming person – quiet, pensive and reserved.

But if you were to engage the Tanjung MP and Padang Kota state assemblyman in a discussion on politics, Chow becomes animated and his passion for the subject is rather infectious.

Born in Kuala Lumpur, this former journalist now heads the Local Government, Traffic Management and Environment Committee in the state government.

And Chow happily declares that he is a Spurs loyalist and keeps tabs on the team’s developments in news reports.

How much time to do you spend on the computer?

About an hour daily.

Do you blog?

I have been blogging on since 2006.

Do you have a website?


Do you play a musical instrument, dance or sing?

I like to sing Mandarin and Cantonese songs.

What kind of music do you listen to?

Sentimental tunes.

Name a favourite song.

Amazing Grace.

Are you into movies?

Rarely. I watch TV mostly – especially shows from Hong Kong.

What do you read?

Motivational and political-economy books.

What was the last book you read?

The World is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman.

Are you into English Premier League football?

I just follow the newspaper reports.

What’s your team?

Tottenham Hotspurs since my days in university.

Other than football, what’s your favourite sport?


What do you play?

Nowadays I don’t play sports. I go walking and hiking instead.

Who is your favourite sports star?

Basketball star Yao Ming from the Houston Rockets.

Coffee or tea?

Local black coffee or Nescafe.

What is your usual drink?

Occasionally, beer.

What languages can you speak?

English, Bahasa Malaysia and Mandarin. I also speak Hokkien, Hakka and Cantonese.

Do you smoke?


What’s your favourite food?

Local hawker fare.

You have a weakness for ...


Any pets?


What car do you drive and how long have you had it?

Proton Wira for the past 3½ years.

What is your contribution to environmental conservation?

I recycle whenever possible and make sure that I turn off the lights and air conditioner when I leave the room.

Guan Eng much slimmer now - The Star

PETALING JAYA: April 25, 2008

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng (pic) has lost about 10kg since the general election.

He used to wear size 37 or 38 trousers but now he is three to four sizes smaller.

“Now I have to wear size 33 or 34. I have to look for the smaller pairs of trousers. I threw all the small sizes away (previously),” he told reporters after a press conference here yesterday.

When one of the reporters asked if he had lost weight since the elections, he replied: “Oh yes, I have. Do you think I have lost weight since the last time you saw me? Have I shrunk (in size)?”

On whether he was eating or skipping meals, Lim quipped: “I wonder myself.”

“Just now at the Conference of Rulers, they gave me a lot of stuff to eat. I was just completely overwhelmed with food. I feel very full now,” he said.

People's right to know, says Guan Eng - The Sun

GEORGE TOWN (April 27, 2008): By Bernard Cheah

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng warned the federal government today against undermining the confidence of the people of Penang and the state government or underestimating the resolve they have.

He said that since Penangites are also tax-payers, they should not be kept in the dark.

The people, he said, want to know decisions made by federal government which have an impact on their future.

"We hope the people of Penang will be treated (by the federal government) with respect and dignity," he said in a press conference after officiating at the Mount Miriam Hospital Ho Chiak! Food and Fun Fair 2008 charity event today.

Lim was answering questions from the press regarding Finance Minister II Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop's statement yesterday that the federal government had yet to approve the monorail system and the Penang Outer Ring Road, which are huge projects.

Nor Mohamed said they were not projects approved under the Ninth Malaysia Plan. He, however, said the second bridge project was on.

Lim said he wanted to hear from Nor Mohamed the status of these projects.

He said there had been conflicting reports on the second bridge project, with one daily newspaper recently stating that it will go on as planned and another saying it may not even take off.

"Let's hear from the horse's mouth on what the actual position is," he said.

Lim said he wondered what was happening bacause the state had been assured by both the federal government and the previous state government that all the projects had been given the green light.

"There is no communication from the federal government, therefore what we know is what we read in the newspapers. Is this healthy? We should be informed before an announcement is made," he said.

He said the state wanted to cooperate with the federal government but, at the same time, it would voice its views on the projects.

"We've got the mandate from Penangites to play our role. And I hope the federal government can appreciate our role as the state government. Is it wrong if we ask about the toll rate (for the second Penang bridge)? What if it goes up to RM20? Can Penangites afford to pay it?"

Asked if the state government had made any moves to contact the federal government, Lim said: "We have taken the initiative, for example, when we sought information about the Northern Corridor Implementation Authority."

He said the state government contacted the Northern Corridor Economic Region adviser Datuk Seri Mohd Annuar Zaini, who is also the Bernama chairman, and they held a discussion, which was a positive move.

Lim also commented on:

>> On Entrepreneur and Cooperative Development Minister Datuk Nor Omar's announcement yesterday that his ministry would stop providing development funds to the five Pakatan Rakyat-ruled states, but will be distributed through Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA) instead. The funds amount to RM100 million a year:

"It's like another act of 'balas dendam' (revenge) towards the action of the public. Why should it be done? We hope that the federal government would look into the matter."

He said such action is viewed as not respecting the public's choice of government in the recent general election.

>> Lim questioned the need for a parallel government and administration to the one chosen by the people.

"If the federal government wants to set up an action council or department, we do not object. However, it should have a state representative in it.

He said the goovernment should not impose its own will without taking into account the public's rights.

"The actions taken is like colonisation of the opposition states, and we hope not to have that," he said.

> On Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar's statement that the government would not abolish the preventive laws, such as the Internal Security Act (ISA) and the Official Secrets Acts (OSA):

"We hope that such primitive laws will be stopped, and let Malaysia join the borderless world, which has freedom of information, freedom of the press, and of ideas and ideals," Lim, who was once detained under the ISA, said.

On the one-week ban on Tamil daily Makkai Osai, he said it should not have happened in the first place.

"It is understood that when they (Makkai Osai) were given the (renewed) licence, they were under probation for 60 days to see how they behave. I don't think this is right.

"The reissuing of licence is good, but why ban it in the first place? Is it a form of intimidation?"

Penang CM to see second finance minister over monorail project - NST

PENANG, Sun: April 27, 2008

Penang Chief Minister, Lim Guan Eng, will meet Second Finance Minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop to get a clearer picture and the latest developments on the state’s monorail project.

“I will not make any statement over the matter just by referring to newspapers or (other) media as two leading (English) newspapers today reported different versions on the matter,” Lim told reporters here today when asked to comment on the latest developments on the Penang monorail project.

He said till today there had been no discussions between the state government helmed by the DAP and Parti Keadilan Rakyat and the federal government on the matter.

Nor Mohamed was reported to have said the federal government would not implement the Penang monorail project if it did not get the state government’s cooperation.

He said the project needed the cooperation and approval of the state government as it involved state land.

The RM1.2 billion monorail project is among mega projects under the Ninth Malaysia Plan that involves building a 51.2km track to complement the island’s public transportation network.

On another matter, Lim said he was frustrated with the Entrepreneur and Cooperative Development Ministry for stopping annual development funds to state economic development corporations of the five Pakatan Rakyat states.

“I am frustrated with the decision and hope the ministry reconsiders the decision as it involves the peoples of the states concerned,” he said.

It was reported today that minister Datuk Noh Omar said his ministry would halt the funds as the states concerned did not cooperate with the ministry and as such it was better that the funds were channelled through Majlis Amanah Rakyat (Mara) for the people’s benefit. — BERNAMA

'No intention of cancelling projects' - The Star


The Federal Government is sincere about working with the Pakatan Rakyat-led Penang state government and has no intention of cancelling projects announced under the Ninth Malaysia Plan.

Second Finance Minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop said the purpose of the three-hour Penang Federal Action Council meeting which he chaired on Saturday was to call for more cooperation with the state government.

It was also to accelerate projects and make them more efficient and effective, and to overcome problems such as land acquisition and cost control.

"The Prime Minister has said that he is the Prime Minister for all. It applies to Penangites as well. The election is behind us now.

"Projects under the Ninth Malaysia Plan will continue to be implemented, subject to details and procedures including land acquisition. We will cooperate with the state government for the interest of Penangites. We will reciprocate to implement projects for the benefit of Penangites," he said.

Nor Mohamed, who was asked to comment on Gerakan acting president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon's statement Sunday that federal projects committed to before elections should go on, said that statement was in line with what he had said to the media after chairing the meeting.

Koh also said that the Federal Government had no intention of punishing Penangites for voting for the opposition.

Guan Eng: Politicians should learn from doctors - The Star


Politicians should learn a thing or two from doctors, said Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.

He said doctors saved everyone's life regardless of where they came from.

“They don’t ask which political party you are from before they treat you," he said in his speech at the Malaysian Medical Association (Penang Branch) 25th Anniversary Dinner and Dance on Saturday. Lim said that the time for politicking was over as the election was over and it was time for everyone to work together to serve the people.

"In the past few days, my appointment of someone from across the political divide has created a controversy that has had the entire Federal Government's top leadership pointing their guns at the Penang state government," Lim said, citing the issue of the appointment of former Gerakan deputy secretary-general Datuk Lee Kah Choon to posts in two state economic development agencies.

"I believe that if we serve the public, our highest calling is the people and not only the party we represent. The new state government is willing to accept anyone regardless of race, religion, gender or political affiliation as long as they are eager to serve.

“If we can cut across the political divide, we can create a more inclusive and united society that allows everyone to prosper and participate," Lim said.

We will be an effective opposition, says Dr Hilmi - The Star

PENANG: April 27, 2008

Umno will continue with its efforts to bring benefit to the community despite being the opposition in the Penang Government, Telok Bahang assemblyman Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya said.

He said the party would also focus on the social development of the people, especially those in rural areas.

“Our aim is to improve the villages’ economy,” he said.

Dr Hilmi was speaking at Persatuan Titian Kasih (Pertikas) annual general meeting yesterday.

He said the 11 Umno representatives in the state assembly would become an effective opposition.

“Although it has been two months since Pakatan Rakyat took over the government, it has yet to do anything good for the state.

“We have not heard any announcement on improving the state’s economy. We just hear the new government condemning the previous government and pointing out its weaknesses,” he said.

He said it was time the government carried out projects to help the state and the people.

Inconsistencies in plan - The Star

PENANG: April 27, 2008

The state government will look into the weaknesses and inconsistencies found in the Penang Structure Plan.

State Local Government, Traffic Management and Environment Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said they were found on the plan’s text and maps.

“The plan, gazetted last year, apparently shows inconsistencies in the primary development corridor from George Town to Tanjung Tokong.

“The text states that the zone ends at Jalan Gajah in Tanjung Tokong. But the map shows that the subsequent secondary zone starts from Mar Vista apartments,” he said.

The inconsistencies were pointed out by a resident at the Sustainable Development on Penang Island North Coast forum held here yesterday.

“These inconsistencies affect Tanjung Bungah town which is located between Jalan Gajah and Mar Vista,” Chow said, adding that he would seek clarifications from the state Town and Country Planning Department director on the matter.

The forum was organised by Tanjung Bungah Residents’ Association and Tanjung Bungah assemblyman Teh Yee Cheu.

On another matter, Chow said those keen on the minutes of council committee meetings could apply for copies from the councils.

Lee Kah Choon saga - opportunity lost for Malaysian leaders

Media Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Friday, 25th April 2008

Lee Kah Choon saga - opportunity lost for Malaysian leaders to emulate voters in March 8 “political tsunami” to rise above race, religion and political differences to work single-mindedly for the good of the people, state and country

The Lee Kah Choon saga is an opportunity lost for Malaysian leaders emulate the Malaysian voters in the March 8 “political tsunami” to rise above race, religion and political differences to work single-mindedly for the good of the people, state and country.

In the last Parliament, in keeping with the perverse notion of “Support Barisan Nasional, right or wrong”, a new rule was formulated for all Barisan Nasional MPs that they cannot support Opposition motions whether right or wrong and cannot vote according to their conscience but must toe the party line.

As a result, the then Chairman of the Barisan Nasional Back Benchers Club, Datuk Shahrir Abdul Samad (now Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister) was forced in May 2006 to resign from his post to avoid disciplinary action against him for speaking up in favour of my privilege motion in Parliament to refer the then MP for Jasin, Mohd Said Yusuf to the Committee of Privileges over the impropriety of an MP asking the Customs and Excise Department to “close one eye” in a case involving the import of sawn timber in Malacca.

It was in disgust at such obtuse and petty-minded mentality where individual and party interests were placed above parliamentary, public and national interests that the Malaysian voters rose as one to teach the Barisan Nasional a salutary lesson in the March 8 “political tsunami”, depriving the BN of its hitherto unbroken two-thirds majority in Parliament and power in five states.

In the March 8, 2008 general election, Malaysian voters crossed ethnic, religious and even party lines to vote for change and the Lee Kah Choon saga would have been one opportunity for Barisan Nasional leaders to demonstrate that they have heard the voices of the people and are prepared to emulate the voters’ example to put aside personal and party differences for the betterment of the people, state and nation.

Initially the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi sent out the right signals in his first public reaction on Tuesday on Lee’s appointment and acceptance of the posts of Penang Development Corporation (PDC) director and Invest Penang executive committee chairman – that for him, “it’s okay as long as there is no clash in policy”.

However, in a matter of a few hours on the same day, Abdullah was prevailed upon to ignore the voices of the people in the March 8 “political tsunami” and to come out with a hardline stand declaring that Lee’s decision was “against the spirit of BN” and requiring action from the Acting Gerakan President, Tan Sri Dr. Koh Tsu Koon.

The latest pronouncement on the matter came from Deputy Prime Minister and Deputy Barisan Nasional Chairman Datuk Seri Najib Razak yesterday that Lee’s acceptance of the two Penang state government positions was against the “clearly stated policy of BN” – making it the most unknown “clearly stated” BN policy as the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and BN leaders had not known about it for 48 hours!

One important reason why Malaysia had lagged behind other countries in economic development and international competitiveness in the past four decades is because of the country’s failure to give top priority to meritocracy and excellence in nation-building.

The Lee Kah Choon saga shows that the Barisan Nasional government and leaders have yet to hear the voices of the March 8 political tsunami who want Malaysian leaders to emulate the voters in transcending ethnic, religious and political differences to work for the betterment or the people, state and nation by creating a new culture of talent and merit unsullied by partisan considerations.

Baiduri takes preventive measures against dissolution - The Star

IPOH: April 27, 2008

Baiduri, the Perak association of state assemblymen's wives, will not be dissolved although Pakatan Rakyat has taken over the state.

President Datin Seri Kamariah Mokri, the wife of former Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Tajol Rosli Ghazali, said they had already amended the constitution to change the name to Perak (Barisan Nasional) State Assemblymen’s Wives' Association.

“This was approved by the Registrar of Societies and the state legal advisor before the election,” she said when contacted yesterday.

Kamariah, a former Bakti (Association of Wives of Ministers and Deputy Ministers) member, said the name change was done as a precaution.

“I learnt a lot at Bakti and how to raise funds properly. I realised that such funds belong to the people and so, should only be spent for welfare,” she added.

Baiduri has about RM300,000 in its account. It also has under a million ringgit in fixed deposits.

Kamariah, whose husband is the Pengkalan Hulu assemblyman, stressed that the association would continue its activities and accept wives of Barisan representatives as its members.

Baiduri was formed 25 years ago.

In PENANG, it is learnt that wives of DAP state assemblymen have yet to become office bearers of the Persatuan Bunga Tanjung while the wives of former Barisan state assemblymen have not vacated their posts.

It is understood that the association has some RM250,000 in its account.

When contacted, several wives of DAP and former Barisan state assemblymen declined to comment.

After bridge delay, PORR and monorail projects in doubt for Penang - The Star


Four days after being told of delays in the second Penang bridge project, the state could face further setbacks – the monorail and Penang Outer Ring Road projects may not take off.

Second Finance Minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop said the mega projects have yet to be approved by the Federal Government and have not reached the “approval stage”.

“There are many stages and procedures to follow before the projects can be approved, including land acquisition issues and tenders.

“I cannot give a commitment on the two projects as they have yet to reach the level where approval is being considered,” he said.

He was speaking to reporters after chairing the state’s first Federal Action Council meeting at the Federal Government building here yesterday.

On a monorail proposal by the Melewar Industrial Group (MIG) to the state government recently, Nor Mohamed said it had nothing to do with the Federal Government.

The report quoted sources as saying the state may carry out a monorail project on its own to speed things up and not wait for the Federal Government to do it.

However, that could run into problems as licensing and privatisation of all rail-based transport come under the Federal Government.

Later, at a meet-the-people function, Nor Mohamed said the Federal Government would not scrap the second Penang Bridge project, even though the cost had increased by 22%, from RM3.5bil to RM4.3bil.

He said he had not seen any evidence that the project needed to be reviewed.

“Of course, we have to make sure the project’s designs are cleverly done to minimise costs. But, the project is still on,” he said.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi announced on April 22 that the second Penang Bridge project would be delayed by nine months due to land acquisition, design and rising costs.

He also said the Government was reviewing a number of projects under the Ninth Malaysia Plan due to the escalating price of materials.

The proposed 24km bridge, which will link the island and Seberang Prai, is scheduled to open in January 2011.

On Rapid Penang, Nor Mohamed said its fleet of 150 buses would be expanded in phases to cater to the outskirts on the mainland.

Penang forms executive committee on second bridge project - The Sun

GEORGE TOWN (April 25, 2008): Opalyn Mok

The Penang government has formed a Penang Second Bridge Executive Committee to monitor the progress of the project.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the committee will consist of Deputy Chief Minister I Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin, Deputy Chief Minister II Prof Dr P.Ramasamy and state executive councillors Abdul Malik Kassim, Phee Boon Poh, Chow Kon Yeow, Law Heng Kiang and Lim Hock Seng.

"The committee will monitor and look into land matters related to the bridge project and help resolve problems arising that could slow down the project," he said.

Lim said the committee's task is to ensure that the project is completed in the shortest possible time at the lowest cost so as not to burden the people.

He also voiced his unhappiness over the federal government's apparent "cold shoulder" by not keeping the state government informed on the progress of the project.

"We are left in the dark when it comes to the project and we are not even aware of any land acquisition problems (as claimed by the federal government)," he said, adding that "what we know is what we read in the newspapers.

"If there are any land acquisition problems, we were not informed. The federal government should at least keep us informed so that we can look the problems which are under the state's jurisdiction," he said.

Speaking in his post-weekly state executive council meeting media briefing today, Lim also spoke on:
> the setting up of Penang Tourism Council (PTC) directly under the state government is still under consideration because the state will have to appoint people to the PTC carefully due to the sudden sensitivity of who the government appoints to bodies under the state.

> For the 12th Parliament 's maiden session on Monday (April 28), Lim has submitted a question on using Petronas profits to help relieve the burden of the people due to rising costs of living.

> On the monorail, the state feels the federal government may have already selected Malaysian Resources Corporation Berhad (MRCB) and hoped the federal government had selected a system which will benefit all and reduce traffic congestion.

> State government also hopes that phase two of the monorail project will include a link between the island and the mainland.

> On Datuk Lee Kah Choon's appointment to the board of directors in Penang Development Corporation and investPenang, Lim reiterated that the appointment was based on Competency, Accountability and Transparency (CAT) and that Lee's inexperience in investment should not be brought up as the former Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon also had no investment experience previously.
He also stressed that DAP did not ask Lee to join the party as a condition for his appointment.

> On the difference of opinions between him and DAP chairman Karpal Singh (Karpal said Lim should not have appointed Lee), Lim said the party will have a meeting on Sunday (April 27) to talk about the policy on the spirit of good governance.

"We will work towards getting the leadership to agree to adopt the CAT philosophy as the way to good governance. I will talk to MPs and am confident that they will support this decision," he said

Kee's back in Penang's tourism industry - The Sun

GEORGE TOWN (April 25, 2008): Opalyn Mok and Diana Chin

Former Gerakan Wanita chief Datuk Kee Phaik Cheen, a veteran in the state's tourism industry, has been appointed Penang Tourism Action Council (PTAC) chairman.

Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman, who announced Kee's appointment in a press conference here today, said Kee is the best person as she is very well versed in the tourism industry.

"Kee is an experienced person in tourism and she will be able to manage all state tourism events," she added.

Kee used to chair PTAC in 2004 and she was also the former Tourism Malaysia deputy chairman.

When asked about the Pakatan Rakyat state government's intention to set up its own Penang Tourism Council (PTC), Azalina said the state has a right to do whatever it wants.

On whether PTAC will continue organising all the pre-planned tourism events for the state, such as the International Lantern Festival, Azalina said: "All planned events will continue without changes."

"We fulfill all our promises, unlike other governments," she said.

When pressed further on whether there is any conflict or confusion on the roles of PTAC and the yet-to-be-formed PTC, Kee said there should not be any confusion at all.

"PTAC works under the ministry and Tourism Malaysia. We want to revamp PTAC by making sure that it is in sync with the ministry," she said.

On PTC, Kee said: "It's a good move. ... it shows the state government is very tourism-conscious. PTC will be more for the state and it is good for Penang to have both PTAC and PTC to promote tourism."

Asked whether PTAC will work with PTC, Kee said: "PTAC has a direct link with the federal government and it has its own policies and directives. Of course, we will work together when it comes to doing events."

She cited the upcoming Dragon Boat Club Crew World Championship event as an example.

"The RM500,000 allocated for the event will be used for the event and I will make sure that the teams turn up for the event or else it would have been a waste to spend so much on it," she said.

On the state government's claim that the federal government had failed to fulfil its pledge to allocate RM1 million for the event, Azalina said the federal government could not be subsidising all events.

"We can't pay the full sum. Events plananed, we will support but a lot of things that we support does not only mean monetary support," she said.

Azalina also spoke on:
> setting up of the National Tourism Consultative Council which will act as a platform for all tourism industry players.
> The council will gather all ministry representatives, government agencies, entrepreneurs as well as non-governmental organisations which are related in anyway to the tourism sector to help increase the quality of service in the industry.
> the ministry will no longer organise "syok sendiri" programmes which does not draw foreign tourists.
> the ministry will only focus on big events which will draw in tourism money for all sectors in the industry rather than small events which will only benefit small sections of the tourism industry

Saturday, April 26, 2008

DAP grassroots: Ramasamy not doing enough for Indians

PENANG: April 26, 2008

Several Indian DAP grassroots leaders and members have expressed their dissatisfaction and anger at Deputy Chief Minister II Dr P. Ramasamy for his failure in representing the community.

“Even though we have an Indian deputy chief minister, he has done nothing to ensure that we are represented in the administration.

“Worse still, some members of the previous government are still serving the current administration and holding important positions.

“Why can’t we have our own grassroots appointed to the local council and government agencies?” said one leader who attended the party’s Indian Affairs and Cultural Bureau meeting on Thursday.

“It was a very fiery discussion with many long-time party members criticising Dr Ramasamy. Many were hurt by his reported remark that he ‘does not represent the Indian community’ because we have very high expectations of him.

“We have been marginalised for so long and now, instead of seeing the light at the end of the tunnel – all we see is darkness,” he said, adding that the state’s three other Indian assemblymen were also out of touch with the community’s needs.

After the 90-minute, closed-door meeting, DAP Indian Affairs and Cultural Bureau chairman and Bagan Dalam assemblyman A. Tanasekharan said Indian members “had finally come to accept” the newly-announced Penang Municipal (MPPP) and Seberang Prai Municipal Council’s (MPSP) line-up despite earlier objection to the under-representation of Indians.

“It is normal to see some members objecting at the initial stage, but when they see the bigger picture, they will understand,” he said, adding that the bureau would not propose any changes to the line up.

Twenty-four MPPP and 24 MPSP councillors were sworn into office recently. Nineteen councillors were from DAP, 15 from PKR and two from PAS.

It was learnt that the Indian DAP members were unhappy as only seven of them were appointed to the two local councils.

According to a source, a majority of the members were still “very unhappy” and had not accepted Tanasekharan’s explanation.

Penang CM to continue picking competent people to serve state - The Star


Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng has given a personal guarantee on his policies of appointing Barisan Nasional members to positions in the state in an effort to placate his own party members.

He said he would continue with the policy to give opportunity to anyone with good credentials and capability to serve the state, in line with his competency, accountability and transparency (CAT) approach.

“I will not run away from taking responsibility over the decisions that I have made.

“I am confident the party (DAP) will support my decision. We want to implement the CAT approach, and we must start somewhere,” said Lim who is also DAP secretary-general.

Lim said this in response to mixed reaction from DAP leaders over the appointment of former Gerakan deputy secretary-general Datuk Lee Kah Choon as InvestPenang executive chairman and director of the Penang Development Corporation.

Among those who opposed the move was DAP chairman Karpal Singh.

“We will discuss during a meeting with DAP MPs on Sunday. I will talk about the policy and spirit of good governance. I hope to get them to agree that we should adopt the new approach,” he said.

Lim said even Barisan Nasional had appointed then DAP secretary-general and former Kota Melaka MP Kerk Kim Hock as National Unity Advisory Panel member in 2004.

“When Kerk accepted the post, the party did not demand his resignation. In fact, I even congratulated him,” he added.

Lim, however, acknowledged that the posts offered to Lee were much higher.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Get down to work, urge Penangites - The Star

April 24, 2008

NEWLY appointed Penang Municipal and Seberang Prai Municipal councillors are expected to roll up their sleeves and get right down to business.

A check by The Star showed that the public had high expectations of the councillors and were expecting them to deliver better, more efficient service.

IT accessory shop owner Ang Beng Sin, 32, just wants to see councillors “do their job”.

“Be honest. Do what you are supposed to do – give it your best and get things done. We don’t want councillors to procrastinate and give excuses for failing to meet expectations,” he said, adding that the new faces must be “proactive”.

“Meet up with apartment management committees, road users, residents and hawkers regularly. Don’t wait for us to come to you with our problems because most of the time, we are not even sure who to look for when it comes to community issues that concern the state,” he said.

Chua: Don't skip council meetings.

An 18-year-old college student who only wants to be known as Shrinie, said she was glad there were NGO representatives in the local councils.

“NGO representatives have a better grasp on some issues because they have been keeping track of problems faced by certain segments of the society.

“I hope all councillors will strive to do better than their predecessors. As most of the appointees are from DAP and PKR, I hope they will make good on their party’s promises to the people,” she said.

Since the councillors’ telephone numbers are published in the media, they must make sure that they are accessible to the people.

Businessman Fikri Zakaria, 24, said it was important for councillors to be responsible and sincere in their intention to serve the public.

“Don’t waste taxpayers’ money. We don’t want a repeat of the recently highlighted MPSP case where its financial reserves fell from RM229mil in 2000 to just RM25.6mil at the end of 2007.

“The public should be kept in the loop – let us know what is going on in the council. Councillors should come out and meet the people more.

Ang: Do what you are supposed to do
“Perhaps they can even set up enquiry booths at popular public areas so that we can approach them for help. The only way they can solve problems is if they are aware of them,” he said, adding that it did not matter which party a councillor belonged to so long as he was willing to work hard for the people.

“Former MPPP councillor Geeta Suresh Chand was very good. Even though people nicknamed her the ‘toilet queen’, she was not embarrassed nor was she deterred from doing her job of ensuring that public toilets were clean,” he said.

Writer Roz Chua, 33, wants the new councillors to take their appointments “seriously”.

“Being a councillor is not just a title. It is a role that must be taken seriously. Don’t be like previous councillors who skipped council meetings and had the audacity to give lame excuses.

“They must have integrity,” she said.

Echoing Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s recent call to councillors and council staff to do their part to provide a safe environment in Penang, to maintain cleanliness for tourists and Penangites alike and to ensure a sustainable development with better traffic management, pensioner Idrus Osman, 52, said the new appointees must “turun padang” (get feedback from the ground personally).

Mat Nayan: Penangites expect a council free from corruption
“They cannot just rely on council officers to report to them because subordinates tend to report only what they think the councillors want to hear,” he said, urging the new councillors to go out and do their own checks and surveys to determine the needs of the rakyat.

His friend, security guard Mat Nayan Lajeh, 54, said the most important thing was that the appointees must “be clean”.

“I think most Penangites expect one main thing – a council free from corruption,” he said.

Twenty-four MPPP and 24 MPSP councillors – which is the maximum number of councillors allowed under Sect 10 of the Local Council Act 1976 for each local council, were sworn into office recently.

All 48 were screened by the police, Anti-Corruption Agency and Insolvency Department.

Nineteen councillors are from DAP, 15 from PKR and two from PAS.

Six from NGOs representing the Women Centre for Change, Penang Malay Chamber of Commerce, Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Indian Chamber of Commerce, Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers and Chinese Chamber of Commerce were appointed.

Najib: Kah Choon's position untenable in BN - The Sun

KUALA LUMPUR (April 24, 2008): By Husna Yusop

Former Gerakan deputy-secretary general Datuk Lee Kah Choon put himself in an "untenable" position in Barisan Nasional (BN) when he accepted appointments offered by the Penang Pakatan Rakyat (PR) government.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak said it is BN's policy that none of its members accept positions offered by the PR government.

"It is unfortunate that he has chosen to accept the positions, making his status as a member of BN untenable. We cannot accept a situation in which BN component party members accepted positions offered by the opposition."

"That is a clearly stated policy of BN," he said to reporters yesterday when asked to comment on Lee’s decision to quit Gerakan.

Lee had said since his decision to accept the appointments are not acceptable to the Gerakan leadership, it is best for him to retreat totally from party politics.

Speaking to reporters on the last day of the 11th Defence Services Asia 2008 today, Najib also said there is no need to set up a commission to investigate the reasons for the decline of support for Umno in the recent election.

On Wednesday, Umno supreme council member Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim said if a commission could be set up for the judiciary and anti-corruption, such a commission can also be set up for Umno.

On Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s claim that PR is in a position to form the federal government and it will be done no later than Sept 16, Najib said: "He can claim anything.

"He will claim a lot of things. It is part of the political games-manship which he is playing," he said.

Asked whether he expects more BN members to leave the party, especially from Sabah and Sarawak, Najib said: “We don’t expect them to leave the party. I hope they will be loyal to BN as BN has done a lot for our country.

"BN gave them the victory because they contested on the BN ticket. They must be confident that the country’s future is more guaranteed under the BN."

Lee's serving Penang pro bono publico, says Guan Eng - The Sun

PETALING JAYA (April 24, 2008): By Tan Yi Liang

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng says former Gerakan deputy secretary-general Datuk Lee Kah Choon is serving the Penang government pro bono publico (serving the public without remuneration).

"That's how sincere and committed Lee is to serve Penangites," said Lim who is DAP secretary-general.

Speaking in a press conference in the party headquarters here today, Lim said: "I have read newspaper reports on this issue over the last few days. The response towards the Penang state government's approach to governance has been looked at purely from a political angle.

"The time has come for us to look at it from a new national perspective, approaching governance based on competence, accountability and transparency (CAT). We welcome all Penangites as well as those who we feel share this philosophy regardless of race, religion or political affiliation," said Lim, who took to task those who criticised Lee's appointment as Penang Development Corporation (PDC) director and investPenang executive chairman.

"It is unfortunate that we still consider race, religion and political affiliation, and I think the pressures that have been exerted and applied (on the Penang government) does not allow us to break out of the mold, that if you are of a certain race, a certain religion or if you come from a certain political party, you are automatically disqualified from being considered for certain positions as well as certain fields and areas. We must break out of this mold," he added.

"Is this an opinion shared by the people," asked Lim, calling on critics to "grow out and grow up from an outdated mindset".

"I have always said that it is not important what colour your skin is, or the gods you pray to, neither should we stress on the political beliefs that we hold. It is important, but as long as you share with the Penang government the principles of CAT- competency in a government that can deliver, accountability in line with democratic principles and transparency, I think we can consider giving everyone a role to play and participate.

Lim said: "The time has come to look more at the content of your character, provided it does not clash with the principles of CAT. I think it is important that we seek a new direction and forge a new political paradigm. Let us govern based on good sense and sound reasoning" said Lim, adding that DAP MPs will be meeting this Sunday night to discuss this new political paradigm which "I have been holding on long before the last general election".

"We take the leading role in Penang, and we are the partner in power in Perak and Selangor, and we hope that this can be extended to other states, giving hope to Malaysians who want to see the principles of CAT, and are not concerned about race, religion or political affiliation," said Lim, expressing disappointment at the response to Lee's acceptance to serve Penangites.

"I was hopeful that the leaders of the other political parties could respond (positively) to this gesture, but the fact that it was looked at with such an unexpectedly strong negative response shows that perhaps we have still not yet reached that level required. But I think the people of Malaysia expect us to attain a certain level of maturity, like what is happening in the West, that despite your political beliefs, you can still be appointed to posts in government," said Lim.

Lim urged politicians to change their mindset, raise their level of political maturity and subscribe to the practice that government should be disassociated from political partisanship.

"We should, wherever we can, try to disassociate government from political campaigning and partisanship. And I want to reach out wherever I can to those who share our CAT philosophy," said Lim.

Lim said those approached by DAP were not required to quit Barisan Nasional. "We did not insist that those offered (posts) leave their parties to join DAP or PKR," said Lim, contrasting it with similar BN offers in the past which called for members of other parties to first quit their party and join BN to take up such offers to serve the public.

Penang to continue offering posts to competent people - The Star


The Penang state government will continue to offer posts to people who are "competent, accountable and transparent" regardless of which political party they belong to.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said he was serious in wanting to forge a new paradigm that cuts across the political divide and brings people together including those "who did not vote for us" to contribute to the betterment of the state.

He said while this was "something new and groundbreaking" he certainly did not expect the move to be "criticised and condemned in such strong terms by top national (Barisan Nasional) leaders."

"Are we going to grow up and grow out of the outdated mindset? The time has come to look at the content of character rather than colour of skin or the gods you pray to or the respective political beliefs that you hold," he said at a press conference Thursday.

He said there should not be discrimination against someone based on political party he or she was from.

He stressed that the Pakatan Rakyat-led Penang government would have no second thoughts about offering other clean and competent Barisan leaders in the state a post.

"It is Barisan which is having second thoughts and exerting pressure on its members to pull out. If we have the confidence they can serve - we will appoint them.

"If they feel they don't want to take on the pressure they have a right not to continue and we respect their wishes and we will not condemn," he added.

He was commenting on former Gerakan deputy secretary-general Datuk Lee Kah Choon quitting the party after coming under fire from Barisan leaders for accepting the Penang Development Corporation (PDC) director and InvestPenang executive committee chairman post from the new Pakatan-led Penang government.

Lim stressed that the Penang state government never made it a requirement that Lee or any other Barisan leader in the state leave their respective parties to accept any state appointment "but even that is seen as unacceptable".

"It is a bit unfortunate that they (Barisan) look at it from a political affiliation perspective and pressure is exerted and applied not allow us to break out of this mould. Is it so difficult to shake our hands?" he asked.

To a question, Lim said there was nothing for him or Lee to feel bad about over the latter (Lee) quitting his party.

"Those who should feel bad know who they are. Let us leave those people who should feel bad to their own devices," he added.

On why he picked Lee, a lawyer and a former parliamentary secretary, who had no business experience to head PDC, Lim said: "Did Koh Tsu Koon have experience in business when he became the Penang Chief Minister. He was only an academic."

Lim said he wanted to make Penang dynamic again and for that it would need the effort and co-operation of everyone in the state.

"Let us break out and get down to work for the people. Campaigning is over. The losers should respect the wishes of the people and co-operate instead of trying to sabotage or undermine the efforts of those who had won," he said, adding that the people expected a certain level of maturity from their politicians and elected representatives.