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"Is this an opinion shared by the people," asked Lim, calling on critics to "grow out and grow up from an outdated mindset".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