PENANG: May 3, 2008 By NG SU-ANN, ONG YEE TING and CHRISTINA CHIN
There will be no open debate but Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng is prepared to meet the wife of his predecessor and former members of the dissolved Pertubuhan Bunga Tanjung (PBT) on the handling of the association’s funds.
He said he did not see a need for a debate with Puan Sri Chui Kah Peng, wife of Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon, because he believed the association was upset by his chief-of-staff Jeff Ooi’s comments in his blog.
“Ooi is now taking a break in Vietnam. When he returns on Monday, he can do the necessary explanation.
“It’s not proper for me to debate over issues which I didn’t raise,” he told a press conference after the swearing-in ceremony for state assemblymen here yesterday.
Lim was responding to a challenge by Chui, the former PBT president, to him and Ooi for a public debate over the handling of the association’s funds.
She had given the DAP politicians a 48-hour ultimatum to respond.
In a blog posting, Ooi stated that Mount Miriam Hospital had yet to receive funds from PBT but later corrected himself by stating that the hospital, along with the Penang Cheshire Home and Mental Health Association, had received RM3,572.63.
He also referred to former PBT members as “desperate housewives”.
Citing PBT’s constitution, Lim said its members must only comprise wives of state assemblymen and MPs, excluding those from the Opposition.
“So, how can they dissolve the association on March 9 when they are no longer members? They should have just handed over PBT to the new state government,” he said.
Asked if his wife Betty Chew would have wanted to head the association, he said she did and it would have been easier for her to take over PBT than to start one on her own.
Lim also questioned whether the wives of former Barisan representatives could give away the funds since they were no longer members under the PBT constitution.
“Instead of giving part of the money to the Association of Wives of Ministers and Deputy Ministers (Bakti), why not give to Penang organisations?
“If these legal issues can be rectified, Bakti should return the money to Penang,” he said, adding that Dr Koh, as former PBT adviser, should have given better advice to the women.
Lim also expressed regret over the alleged assault of Bachang assemblyman Lim Jak Wong who claimed that a district police chief had hit and kicked him during his arrest in Malacca.