Monday, July 28, 2008

Hilmi admits RM40 million blunder - Sun

GEORGE TOWN (July 28, 2008) : By Himanshu Bhatt

Former deputy chief minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya today admitted responsibility in the Penang State Assembly to a land deal blunder that will cost the state government some RM40 million.

Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi, the BN assemblyman for Teluk Bahang, surprised the assembly when he stood up to take responsibility for the "error" which occurred when he was the Religion, Land, Planning and Development Programmes Committee chairman from 1999 to 2004.

He said this when Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng (DAP-Air Putih) was reporting to the assembly about their findings into several land transactions that went awry because of "negligence" and poor decision making, costing total estimated losses of RM124 million to the state.

"I feel responsible because the error happened then," said Hilmi. "An error occurred and the decision was already made."

According to Lim, this particular case may bring losses worth RM40 million while losses from the other cases involving questionable land acquisitions (collectively investigated as they involved the same government officer) amounted to RM84 million.

Lim revealed in his winding-up speech that the previous administration had approved a 10.6 acres (4.3ha) plot to an individual, apparently a quarry operator.

"A plot of land as big as 10.6 acres is too large to be given only to an individual, which should not have happened," he said.

The case was brought to the courts when the state government cancelled the transfer of the land, he said. "Due to this, the state government incurred losses when the court’s decision sided with the concerned individual."

Lim said a negotiation process to settle the case out of court was held. "In the negotiation process, at one stage the concerned individual agreed to receive compensation that was far lower, which was RM1.8 million, but the previous state government did not agree."

He added the court later ordering the state to pay RM29 million (reduced from RM40 million on appeal).

With interests accruing at a rate of 8% per annum since 2004, the losses incurred from this case may touch RM40 million, Lim said.

"This is another case that has caused losses to the state government and wasted the rakyat’s money due to negligence and improper decision-making."

Lim said the other cases involved "embezzlement" in land acquisitions.

Although the acquisitions were done according to legal procedure, the state government was forced to bear RM84 million in subsequent losses, he said.

In one instance, the payment award by the land administrator was not in accordance with the amount recommended by the Valuation and Property Services

Department, Lim pointed out.

Lim said investigations are underway before appropriate action, including reports to the police and Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA), are made.

"While investigations are underway, the government officer suspected to be involved, has been transferred to another department."

He stressed that the reports must be based on evidence that is "beyond reasonable doubt".

Lim thanked Hilmi for confessing to the mistake in the quarry case and for taking responsibility.

"If you have new evidence, please raise them and we will see how we can help," he said.

Datuk Jahara Hamid (BN-Telok Ayer Tawar) stood up to ask how such cases could be prevented.

With a broad smile, Lim simply replied: "Gunakan CAT (use CAT)! Competency, accountability, transparency!"

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Penang may ask to buy Toyota Camry as official cars - The Star

GEORGE TOWN: Jul 26, 2008 By NG SU-ANN

Penang might buy Toyota Camry cars in future for official use, said Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.

He said Penang might buy the cars, which he said were cheaper than Proton Perdana V6, after seeking Federal Government approval.

"Since Terengganu is allowed to keep 14 Mercedes-Benzes costing RM3.43mil, Penang should be allowed to buy Toyota cars in future," he told newsmen Saturday at the clan jetties' open house in Weld Quay.

Lim described the decision to allow Terengganu to keep its Mercedes-Benzes to be used for foreign dignitaries as inappropriate and a waste of money especially when many people were suffering during the economic slowdown.

"This doesn't make sense. What's the regularity of foreign dignitaries visiting Terengganu? How often do even the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister or Sultans visit the state?

"If the cars are not going to be used often, what's the point of keeping them? This is an example of how public funds are misused by Barisan Nasional leaders. A leopard can't change its spots," he added.

Lim said he was surprised that no action would be taken against Terengganu for defying the federal directive that stated that Proton Perdana was the official car for executive council members and ex-officio members.

In March, the new Penang government had cancelled an order for five new Perdana V6 cars worth RM623,000 ordered by the previous administration for its exco members.

Lim said: "Instead of buying new cars, we had cancelled the orders. Instead of buying new Perdanas, Terengganu had bought Mercedes Benzes.

"Who doesn't want to sit in new cars? However, I believe that as long as a car, even if it's an old boneshaker, can still move, that's good enough," he said, adding that his official car was 14 years old.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Open tender for govt magazine - The Star

Jul 25, 2008

THE publication of Suara Rakyat Pulau Pinang, a state government magazine that keeps readers abreast of state policies and developments, will soon be open for tender.

State ad-hoc information committee head Abdul Malik Abul Kassim said any company could apply to publish the magazine starting from its second edition that will be released in September.

“We are planning on changing certain aspects of the magazine and are currently identifying things we want in the new edition,” he told reporters during the lunch break of the state assembly sitting.

He said the new publication would incorporate views and suggestions of the rakyat, adding that the state was looking into changing the format and concept of the publication.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng launched Suara Rakyat, a 52-page trilingual publication, on Wednes-day as an incorporated version of three state-published magazines – Wawasan Rakyat, Hong Yuan (Vision), Makkal Madal (Message to the Rakyat).

Abdul Malik said the printers of the three magazines were retained to print the first edition of Suara Rakyat but they would have to submit tender applications for future editions.

On criticism from opposition leader Datuk Azhar Ibrahim that the publication’s annual RM276,000 allocation could be better used, Abdul Malik said Suara Rakyat was an important communication tool for the state government.

“The previous state administration was spending this amount but they did not say it was wasting the money then. Moreover, the state will be able to get a much better price for the publication after going through the tender process,” he said.

He added that RM85,000 was spent to publish 20,000 copies of the first edition.

“The editorial board, which consists of media members, non-governmental organisations and representatives, will meet after the state assembly sittings and we hope to start the tendering process in mid-August,” he said.

Take a pay cut, Guan Eng and exco members told - The Star

GEORGE TOWN: Jul 25, 2008

Take a 10% pay cut if Pakatan Rakyat is serious about helping the rakyat –that is the message Datuk Roslan Saidin (BN – Pinang Tunggal) has for Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.

He said the money could then be used to lighten the people’s burden.

“Lim and all his state executive council members should take a pay cut instead of harping about their CAT (competency, accountability and transparency) philosophy.

“The state has been talking about travelling economy class and all but what is it really doing for the people?

“The state is playing politics just for publicity’s sake when it should be concentrating on improving the lives of the people,” he said.

Roslan, who was debating a motion of thanks on the Yang di-Pertua Negri’s speech, later challenged Deputy Chief Minister (I) Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin to come up with a blueprint ensuring development for bumiputras.

“Tell us what social, economic and educational development you are going to bring for the Malays who cannot even afford low-cost housing?” he asked.

At this point, A. Thanasekaran (DAP – Bagan Dalam) interjected, saying that housing problems were not confined to one race.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

‘Voice of unity’ launched - The Star

Jul 24, 2008

SUARA Rakyat Pulau Pinang - the state's magazine, is a step towards fulfilling the Penang Government's dreams and hopes for the state, said Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.

The 52-page Bahasa Malaysia, Mandarin and Tamil publication is aimed at making Penang an inter-national city where everyone can participate in the sharing of the state’s wealth.

“We want to create a caring society and one that is fair to all. We want to let the people know the opportunities that are available in all sectors. We welcome all feedback and opinions,” he said, commenting on the purpose of the magazine.

The magazine was launched by Lim at the state legislative assembly yesterday morning.

Lim flicking through the Suara Rakyat Pulau Pinang.

State ad hoc information committee head Abdul Malik Abul Kassim said the trilingual magazine represented a voice of unity.

“We printed 20,000 copies of the first issue to be distributed free to all government agencies, village security and development committees, Rukun Tetangga sectors and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

“This is only a start. Of course, we will improve on the look and content later on,” he said, adding that an editorial board would be set up after the assembly sitting.

“By next month we will have an editorial board comprising members of the media, NGOs and elected representatives,” he said adding that comments and suggestions could be sent to

“For now we will have three issues a year but eventually we may progress to six issues a year before coming out with monthly copies,” he said.

Opposition leader Datuk Azhar Ibrahim described the publication as a “political propaganda”.

“I estimate each copy to cost about RM5. The state is planning to print three issues a year so that would cost about RM300,000. This money can be put to better use.

“The articles that are in the magazine have already been published in newspapers so I don’t see the point.

“Instead we should be supporting a magazine like In Penang which highlights our heritage sites and is also distributed free,” he said, adding that In Pe-nang only cost the state RM25,000 per year and yet funding had been discontinued.

He noted that the previous state government had also published magazines in three languages.

“Not all the languages are in one magazine but it is still the people's voice,” he said.

In 2002, Barisan Nasional published a bimonthly Tamil magazine, Makkal Madal (Message to the Rakyat), making it the first in the country to publish magazines in three languages – Malay, Chinese and Tamil.

Similar to the Malay and Chinese state-published magazines – Wawasan Rakyat and Hong Yuan (Vision), the magazine is to inform readers of government policies, development plans and also get feedback from the community.

Wawasan Rakyat was published in 1994 while Hong Yuan, in 1999.

All three free publications targeted similar readers of Suara Rakyat.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Penang Umno wants road signs in Chinese removed - NST

PENANG: Jul 23, 2008

PROJECTING DIVERSITY: Tanjung Umno Youth chief Shaharrudin Hassan (second from left) and other Youth members taking a look at a Chinese road sign put up by Gerakan members.

Penang Umno wants six road signs in Chinese put up by Gerakan Youth in Georgetown on Monday to be removed as soon as possible.

The state Umno liaison committee secretary Datuk Azhar Ibrahim said he had contacted Penang Municipal Council (MPPP) president Datuk Zainal Rahim Seman on the matter.

“If they (Gerakan Youth) refuse to take down the road signs, Datuk Zainal assured me that MPPP will pull them down,” said Azhar, who is also Penaga assemblyman.

He was commenting on Penang Umno Youth’s protest against the move by a group of Gerakan members who put up six road signs in Chinese here to tell the DAP that it had to come up with such road signs since the party was now helming the state.

The state Umno Youth urged the local government and government agencies to only allow road signs in the national language.

Penang Government agrees to multi-language signs for tourists’ benefit - The Star


The state government plans to put up street names and road signs in multiple languages at heritage areas here for the benefit of tourists and visitors.

State Local Government, Traffic Management and Environment Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said yesterday that the languages would depend on the cultural characteristics of the streets in question.

“There have been requests for road signs in various languages now that George Town has received Unesco recognition as a world heritage site. The state has, in principle, agreed to have signs in Bahasa Malaysia, English, Chinese and Tamil, and maybe even Arabic,” he said.

Chinese signs: Penang residents riding past one of the six new road signs in George Town yesterday. The six signs were put up by a group of Gerakan members on Monday.

Chow noted that the Federal Government had also approved an allocation to put up signboards in various languages around George Town.

On the six street signs put up by several Gerakan members, led by former Penang Municipal Council councillor Dr Thor Teong Ghee, Chow said he had instructed the council to give notice to the group to remove them.

“The council will advise them to take down the signs themselves, unlike in the past when the council under the previous administration used to pull down signs put up by the DAP within two hours,” said Chow.

On Monday, Dr Thor and six others put up the road signs in Chinese to remind the DAP that it had to keep its word to come up with such road signs now that the party was helming the state. The six signs were for Beach Street, Burmah Road, Macalister Road, Carnarvon Street, Chulia Street and Jalan C.Y. Choy.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said there was no reason for anyone to politicise the issue as this was the people's aspiration. He likened the need to have multilingual road signs to the multilingual announcements at airports which were a necessity.

However, Tanjung Umno Youth division chief Shaharrudin Hassan urged the local government and government agencies to only allow road signs in the national language.

“If the Malays can compromise with not having road signs in Jawi or Arabic, we do not see why the other races cannot practise a similar thing,” he said.

When contacted, Dr Thor said he would wait for the council's notice, but hoped that the signs could remain until the council put up its own.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Koh's administration accused of bridge defect cover-up - The Sun

GEORGE TOWN (July 22, 2008) : By Opalyn Mok

The Penang State Assembly was told today the the previous state government had covered up the fact that some couplings for the Penang Bridge had been badly damaged and the bridge could have collapsed if not repaired.

"The previous state government kept this secret and the safety of the people was ignored," state executive councillor Phee Boon Poh (DAP - Sungai Puyu) told the House today.

Phee did not give details on when the damage took place and when it was repaired. Couplings are devices that link the segments that make up a bridge.

"It is due to this that the Opposition should actually support the Penang second bridge project as we would need an alternative," said Phee, who had interjected into Opposition leader Datuk Azhar Ibrahim's (BN - Penaga) debate on the motion of thanks to the Penang Yang di-Pertua for his speech at the opening of the assembly.

Azhar, who was arguing against the need for a second bridge for Penang, then replied that the matter was kept secret because the previous state government did not want to create widespread panic amongst the people.

"We did the repair work. See! it did not collapse at all," said Azhar, a former state executive councillor in the previous state government.

" We can't be announcing to the whole world just because of a few cracks," said Azhar who accused Phee of acting like a small child.

During the state assembly meeting in November last year, Jasmin Mohamad (BN-Sungai Dua) had asked for a full report as he had heard of serious structural cracks on the Penang Bridge.

Then Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon had said he had not received any report on cracks on the bridge and that the repair work on the bridge at that time was the usual maintenance work to replace the cables.

Contacted today, a spokesperson for Penang Bridge Sdn Bhd said the bridge undergoes scheduled maintenance and monitoring work annually.

"There were no such thing as cracks or anything of that nature at all," she said, denying they had to repair cracks under the guise of maintenance work.

Earlier, Azhar said there are 1.78 million vehicles in Penang and if there is an additional bridge, it would cause even more congestion on the island.

To this, Public Works, Utilities and Transport exco Lim Hock Seng (DAP - Bagan Jermal) said there are actually 2.3 million vehicles registered in the state.

"The traffic congestion on the bridge is very serious now and if we do not build the second bridge, in one to two years' time, we will not be able to use the current bridge without sitting there to wait for two hours," he said.

Azhar said the figure of 1.78 million he quoted was obtained from the answer given to him by the current state government, to which Lim admitted he had miscalculated.

Meanwhile, Tan Cheong Heng (DAP – Padang Lallang) asked the government to explain why the cables in the middle of the Penang Bridge were being replaced now.

He noted that when the bridge was opened in 1985, it had been guaranteed to last 100 years.

Sparks fly over 'RM30m embezzlement' - The Sun

Himanshu Bhatt and Opalyn Mok at the Penang State Assembly yesterday

PENANG (July 22, 2008) :

State Opposition leader Azhar Ibrahim (BN-Penaga) today raised the ire of backbenchers and state executive councillors in the Penang State Assembly when he chose to use the word menyeleweng (embezzle) to describe the state government's move to waive summonses issued by both local councils here after taking over the state administration.

"The state government keeps talking about cutting costs, flying economy and cutting down wastage but it has menyeleweng RM30 million just like that so that all are happy," he said.

He had, earlier, listed out the total summonses waived by the Penang Island Municipal Council (MPPP) at 180,000 cases amounting to RM4.4 million for parking offences and 351,000 cases amounting to RM10.5 million issued to hawkers and petty traders.

The total summonses waived by the Seberang Perai Municipal Council (MPSP) were 581,670 cases amounting to RM14.5 million for parking offences and 2,360 cases amounting to RM0.6 million issued to hawkers and petty traders.

Penang Health, Welfare and Caring Society Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh (DAP-Sungai Puyu) stood up and asked Azhar to explain what he meant by menyeleweng RM30 million.

"This RM30 million in summonses should have been collected from the people but it was not collected, so this is menyeleweng. RM30 million was gone and that's menyeleweng," Azhar replied.

Phee stood up again and said Azhar should refer to a dictionary so that he knows the meaning of menyeleweng.

"Can he understand the meaning of menyeleweng? This is a wild accusation that the state had menyeleweng RM30 million when the state government did not take even a single sen," he said.

At this juncture, Speaker Abd Halim Hussain concurred by saying:

"So, this is not menyeleweng."

Azhar then stood up and changed his tune by stating that what he had meant was that the state government had menyeleweng from its responsibilities.

"The state government is supposed to collect the summonses but it did not do so," he said.

A.Tanasekharan (DAP-Bagan Dalam) then interjected that the RM30 million was the people's money and it was inside the people's pockets.

"We didn't take the people's money. We are not like the Barisan Nasional (BN) who like to say it is the people's money but they keep it and do not use it for the people's benefit," he said.

Shabudin Yahya (BN-Permatang Berangan) jumped into the fray to state that there is an Act to enable the state government to collect the summonses.

"The people will be the ones suffering because this money could have been used for their benefit," he said, adding that the state government kept saying it has no funds but it did not want to collect this RM30 million.

Jagdeep Singh Deo (DAP-Datuk Keramat) interjected and pointed at the Petronas profit that the BN government had but the funds did not go to the people.

"Why weren't part of the profits channeled to Penang?" he said, and asked Azhar to withdraw his menyeleweng accusation.

"Azhar asked where the RM30 million had gone, implying that the state government took the sum when we didn't. He should withdraw his statement," he said, adding that Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng has the right to give amnesty to the people to waive their summonses.

Phee agreed with Jagdeep and demanded Azhar to withdraw his statement as it was a baseless accusation.

What followed was more exchange of words between Shabudin, Phee, Azhar, Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya (BN-Telok Bahang), Datuk Jasmin Mohamed (BN-Sungai Dua, Deputy Chief Minister II Prof Dr P.Ramasamy (DAP-Perai) and even Lim (DAP-Air Putih).

Azhar denied that he said the state government had menyeleweng RM30 million but that the state had shirked its responsibilities.

Jagdeep then raised the Point of Order 13 (c) which prohibits them from uttering words that hurt the feelings of others in the state assembly.

Lim said the state government did not even take a single sen, what more RM30 million from the people and asked for Azhar to withdraw his statement.

Finally, Abd Halim interrupted to say that he will make a decision but again the backbenchers and Opposition started arguing until the Speaker silenced them all by raising Point of Order 28 where all assemblymen must be seated when the Speaker is talking.

"My decision is that menyeleweng is not a suitable word to be used in here so stop using it and stop discussing this matter," he said before instructing Azhar to continue with his debate.

Gerakan puts up road names in Chinese as reminders to state govt - The Star


A group of Gerakan members has put up six road signs in Chinese here to tell the DAP that it has to come up with such road signs since the party is now helming the state.

In what appears to be a tit-for-tat move, former Penang Municipal councillor Dr Thor Teong Ghee, who is a Penang Gerakan Youth committee member, said such road signs were now vital as George Town had been listed as a World Heritage Site by Unesco.

“But now that they are at the helm, I sincerely hope they will keep their word by putting up such road signs,” he said before putting up one of the road signs in Chinese at Beach Street yesterday.

The other roads where the Gerakan members have put up roads signs in Chinese are Burmah Road, Macalister Road, Carnarvon Street, Chulia Street and Jalan C. Y. Choy.

Signing up: Dr Thor (third from right) and other Gerakan members showing the road signs in Chinese during a press conference at Beach Street. The signs were later put up under the original road signs at the six roads.

Interestingly, except for Jalan C.Y. Choy, the road signs are of the Chinese names used by locals to refer to these roads, and take into account trades or features peculiar to the road such as Lam Chan Ah (Muddy Padi Field) for Carnarvon Street which used to be home to padi fields in the early days of Penang.

Beach Street is referred to as Tho Kok Kay (Wholesale Street), Burmah Road (Chia Chooi Lor - Water Carriers Road), Macalister Road (Tiong Lor - Middle Road) and Chulia Street (Gu Kan Tang - Cattle Pen Street).

In June last year, Penang DAP Youth had put up road signs in Chinese at several roads to pressure the previous government to come up with Chinese road signs.

Dr Thor said that the Penang DAP youth wing had said the Chinese road signs could boost tourism, especially in attracting tourists from China.

Penang Municipal Council enforcement officers later took down the signs put up by the DAP members as they were illegally erected.

Dr Thor said although the Gerakan members had also illegally put up their road signs yesterday, he hoped this would serve as a reminder to the present state government.

“At least eight of the DAP members who supported the move for road signs in Chinese to be put up are now state assemblymen and, as such, should aggressively pursue its implementation,” he added.

When contacted, DAP national Socialist Youth (Dapsy) organising secretary Koay Teng Hai, who is also Pulau Tikus assemblyman, said Dapsy was not only proposing road signs in Chinese but in other languages as well.

He said Dapsy was in the midst of drafting a proposal on the matter before submitting it to the municipal council and state Local Government Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow for approval.

“Apart from Chinese, we will also have road signs in Tamil and Jawi, depending on the cultural background of the area,” added Koay.

Penang State Assembly Live Telecast July 21 - July 31

The live telecast cab be viewed using the following link:

Monday, July 21, 2008

PAS-Umno talks not a cause for concern, says CM - The Star


The talks between PAS and Umno are no cause for concern to Pakatan Rakyat, said Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.

"If Pakatan Rakyat can be disturbed because of one meeting, then it is completely not a pakatan (coalition)," he said Monday, responding to the high-level meetings between the two parties.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said on Sunday that he had met with "very high level" PAS leaders three times and their talks had advanced to another stage. In an immediate response, PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang confirmed that the meetings took place and said that the discussions had centred on Islam and Malay issues.

Lim, who is DAP secretary-general, said it was normal and within Abdullah's rights to meet anyone.

"That is not unusual. It is what they are discussing that is more important. I've also met the PM before, but we met to discuss issues relating to the rights of the people of Penang.

"I'm sure that he's met with others. Our emphasis is that when we talk about issues, it should be issues that contribute towards Malaysian unity," he told a press conference after the opening ceremony of the 12th state assembly.

On the possibility of PAS jumping ship and Pakatan Rakyat breaking up, Lim said:

"We have no indication of that for now; let us cross that bridge when we come to it."

Asked if he would be meeting with PAS leaders to check with them what transpired at the meetings, Lim said there was no necessity and it was not going to affect the Penang government anyway.

On the position of the state's Opposition leader, Penaga assemblyman Datuk Azhar Ibrahim of Umno, Lim said the state intended to move the necessary amendments to accord him an allowance and other privileges.

"We intend to give him an allowance just like in Parliament and recognise his position as Opposition leader, which had never been recognised in the past. The state legal advisor has said that the necessary amendments would only be ready at the next state assembly session," he said.

Lim also said the state was pursuing an earlier proposal for loans from the federal government for conservation efforts, and hoped the federal government was willing to give soft loans amounting to RM200mil for such purposes in light of the inscription of George Town as a historical city under Unesco’s World Heritage Sites.

A heart to serve people - The Star

Jul 21, 2008 By DERRICK VINESH

MONETARY reward is not the main reason for one to serve the community – this is what the state’s newly-appointed Village Security and Development Committee (JKKK) chairmen say.

The 148 leaders, who were appointed for the 2008/09 term, have accepted their monthly allowances of only RM200, instead of RM600 as received by their predecessors.

Pepper Estate JKKK chairman Geoffrey Gan, 55, said under the previous state administration, JKKK chairmen used to receive an allowance of RM450 from the Federal Government and RM150 from the state government.

“We understand the financial situation of the Pakatan Rakyat-led state government and do not expect high allowances from them.

Lim sharing a light moment with Sungai Nibong JKKK chairman Ideris Othman (in white) and Kampung Seronok JKKK chairman Sharifah Nooryati Syed Ameruddin after presenting them the appointment letters.

“Our ultimate aim is to help people and not to seek fat allowances,” he said after Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng had presented letters of appointment to the JKKK leaders at the Seberang Prai Municipal Council headquarters in Bukit Mertajam yesterday.

Gan, however, said he hoped the private sector and the public would help support JKKKs through cash and kind when they organised various community activities.

Bagan Ajam JKKK chairman Alias Wan Chek, 47, a businessman, said the JKKK post was a part-time job for him.

“I view this appointment as an honour to serve the people. I will do my best to help curb crime and immoral activities in my area,” he said.

Pantai Molek JKKK chairman Cheah Sze Phatt, 57, a businessman, said he hoped the state government would gradually increase the allowance.

“But we are very happy to serve the people,” he said.

Later, during a press conference, Lim said he was glad these leaders have placed sincerity to serve the people above their own interest.

Lim also announced that the monthly allowance for JKKK secretaries would be RM150, while RM10 would be given to every committee member who attended a meeting.

The state, he added, would also allocate RM1,000 to all JKKKs as annual administration costs.

Lim said the appointment of the Juru JKKK chairman had been temporarily deferred following a request from his deputy Dr P. Ramasamy.

Tree felled for safety reason - The Star


A HUGE healthy rainforest tree in Jalan Lembah Permai in Tanjung Bungah, believed to be more than 50 years old, was chopped down over the weekend because it was obstructing the view of motorists.

Penang municipal councillor Lim Cheng Hoe said this has resulted in several accidents along the busy stretch.

He said the council approved the residents’ request for the tree to be chopped down by the Public Works Department.

Lim said in the latest accident about two weeks ago, a motorcyclist was seriously injured after a car exiting from a small lane at the junction knocked him down.

The rainforest tree beside Jalan Lembah Permai in Tanjung Bungah has to give way due to several accidents along the busy stretch.

“The car driver did not see the motorcyclist as the tree had blocked his view,” he said.

Lim added the council did not simply allow the tree to be chopped down on flimsy grounds.

“No doubt, the tree was healthy, but we have to consider the lives of people,” he said.

“There have been many accidents at the junction in the past,” said Lim, adding that the small lane led to a village and a parking lot of a nearby coffee shop.

Lim was commenting on public complaints to The Star on the felling of the tree. A reader complained that workers began axing the tree on Friday and the job took three days.

He also claimed it was the third three to be chopped down in two years in the area.

Another caller was concerned that the felling was illegal as it was being done over the weekend.

Lim dispelled the claims, saying no other tree in the area had been felled in recent years.

“I live in the area and there has not been any felling of trees there, only the occasional trimming of one or two trees with large branches,” he said.

Tanjung Bungah assemblyman Teh Yee Cheu, who has been vocal about a greener Penang, said it was unfortunate that the tree had to be felled but human safety was of prime importance.

“We still want more trees to be planted all over the island,” said Teh, who had in March announced his target of having a million trees planted in the state within five years.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Guan Eng: far cry from what was promised - The Sun

SEBERANG PERAI (July 20, 2008) By Bernard Cheah

As much as the Penang government welcomes the federal authorities’ move to reinstate RM40 million of the state’s original 9th Malaysia Plan (9MP) allocation, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said today the amount is a far cry from the total RM 4.7 billion that Penangites had been promised.

Responding to Second Finance Minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yackop’s announcement recently that the allocation for upgrading the Penang Hill funicular railway, would be topped up with RM100 million for purchase of new RapidPenang buses, Lim said the RM140 million is a mere 3% of the allocated RM4.7 billion shelved in the 9MP mid-term review.

"It's not 10%, it’s not 5%, but just only 3% of the RM4.7 billion promised to Penang," said Lim who expressed hope that the federal government would reconsider its decision and not defer the pending allocations for the Mengkuang Dam expansion, Penang Outer Ring Road (PORR) and the monorail.

"These are promises made, and promises made should be fulfilled," he stressed, adding he would meet Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi for a fourth time, to discuss this matter.

"Penangites are also tax payers, and they have a right to these projects," Lim told reporters after giving out letters of appointment to 148 Penang Village Security and Development Committee (JKKK) chairpersons at the Seberang Perai Town Hall here today.

Lim also said each JKKK chairperson would only be given an allowance of RM200 per month, compared to the previous allowance rate of RM600.

"We don't want to see a person taking up this post for money. He should do this to provide service to Penangites."

The state government will allocate RM 1,000 for each JKKK's annual administration cost.

Lim: Funicular train reinstatement just a start - The Star


The Federal Government's move to reinstate the RM40mil project to upgrade the Penang Hill funicular train service is a good first step, but the state is far from satisfied.

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said although he welcomed the move, he would continue to press the Government to reinstate the other shelved projects.

"We do not want the Federal Government to get the impression that the state is satisfied.

"There are so many other projects that need attention and assistance from the Government and we will continue to press for the reinstatement of other shelved projects," Lim said after flagging off the Penang Hill Climb from Youth Park on Sunday.

Second Finance Minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop had announced on Saturday that the project to upgrade the funicular train service had been reinstated into the Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP).
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Friday, July 18, 2008

Penang may consider taking PORR and monorail projects private - NST

GEORGE TOWN, FRI: Jul 18, 2008

THE PENANG state government may consider taking the Penang Outer Ring Road and monorail projects private if the federal government continues with its decision to defer both projects.
Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said he would get the relevant state agencies to furnish him with the necessary details before deciding.

He, however, said the state government's priority was to urge the federal government to pursue both projects.

"We hope the federal government will keep to its words ... after all, both projects have been promised to us much earlier.

"If at all it fails to implement both projects, then we may seriously consider taking them private," he told reporters after the executive committee members of the Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce called on him yesterday.
The proposed RM2 billion monorail and RM1.5 billion PORR projects have been deferred under the mid-term review of the Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP).

GUAN ENG: RM100 aid for Penang's low-income families - NST

PULAU PINANG, FRI: Jul 18, 2008

Penang residents whose monthly household income is less than RM1,500 qualify for RM100 aid from the state government, says Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng today.

The financial aid will be channeled through the Perbadanan Bekalan Air Pulau Pinang Sdn Bhd (PBAPP) or Penang Water Supply Corporation to assist the low-income earners to cope with rising costs of living.

“Those interested in applying for the cash aid only have to fill in a form which will be distributed with their waterbills. The completed forms can be submitted at the PBAPP offices before Sept 30,” he said.

The PBAPP offices are located at Komtar, Perai, Bukit Mertajam, Jawi, Rifle Range, Kepala Batas, Taman Selat and Balik Pulau.

The one-off payment would be credited into their account with PBA before year end, he said.

Look to private sector for mega project funding, Penang govt told - The Sun

GEORGE TOWN(July,18,2008) : By Opalyn Mok

The Penang State government was today urged to to take up the challenge of privatising mega projects instead of relying on funding from the federal government.

In making the call, Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce (PCCC) president Tan Sri Tan Kok Ping said the state government should look towards the private sector for funding of mega projects such as the Penang Outer Ring Road (PORR) project.

"Collaboration with the private sector would solve the shortage of funds and it is better than having to be dependent on the federal government's allocations," Tan said.

In an immediate response to PCCC's call for the state to start looking towards privatisation for funding of PORR, Lim said the state will continue to pursue the federal government for the project to continue.

"This is a promise made by the federal government to the taxpayers in Penang. We want the federal government to fulfill its promises because it is the taxpayers' right," he said.

However, the state government will consider privatisation if the federal government continue to refuse to fund the PORR and monorail projects, Lim added.

Tan who led the PCCC executive committee to pay a courtesy call on Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng also handed in a memorandum to the state government listing out proposals on several main issues.

They include heritage conservation, the tourism industry, the transportation and infrastructure upgrade system and private enterprise investments.

PCCC proposed that the state government set up a management committee with entrusted powers within the heritage zone in line with George Town and Malacca being listed as one of Unesco's World Heritage Sites.

"Not only does the state government need to apply for extra allocation from the federal government but there is also to encourage private enterprises to start a conservation and beautification project on the old buildings within the heritage zone," he said.

Tan also proposed that the state government set up a Heritage Trust Fund to raise funds so that the state can use it to purchase heritage properties, renovate and sell them to interested foreign or local parties at market price.

On tourism, Tan proposed that an international-class marine aquarium be built and also to encourage local and foreign companies to develop and build a luxury marine park-resort in Tanjung Bunga.

He said a theme park, based on the Disneyland concept, should be built in Balik Pulau through a joint venture between local and foreign companies.

Commenting on the deferred monorail project Tan said it was not necessary for Penang to have it.

"There should be other alternatives as replacement because we are worried that the monorail would be a 'white elephant', flashy and impractical," he said, adding that the government cannot not afford to keep on subsidising the fare.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Drop in crime rate - The Star

Jul 17, 2008 By NG SU-ANN

PENANG’S violent and property crime rates have been reduced in the first six months this year compared with those in the last six months of 2007, said Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.

He said 1,620 violent cases were reported in the last six months of 2007 but the number has dropped by 38 cases in the first half of this year.

For property crime, the rate had dropped by about 4% (325 cases) from the 7,447 cases between last July and December to 7,122 between January and June this year, he said.

“Overall, Penang is among the top states in solving crime cases,” he said at a dinner held in honour of newly appointed state police chief Deputy Comm Datuk Ayub Yaakob at the Esplanade on Tuesday night.

Exchanging pleasantries: Lim having a chat with Ayub (centre) while state executive councillors Chow Kon Yow (second left) and Danny Law (right) looked on.

He said that in view of the global economic slowdown, the state government was concerned that Penang’s crime index would rise.

However, the state and police would work hand in hand to ensure the situation was under control, he said.

“This is because our investment’s prestige and tourism are closely linked to the state’s security level. If we have a high crime rate, this will scare investors and tourists away from Penang,” he said.

Lim said the authorities had identified 165 crime-related hotspots in Penang based on the reports lodged by the public.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Fairus staying put as Deputy CM - The Star


Penang Deputy Chief Minister I Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin denied rumours that he is quitting the post.

He called on the police to investigate those responsible for spreading such rumours via SMS.

"I am shocked why such baseless speculations are being spread," he told a press conference here on Wednesday.

Fairus claimed the rumours were being circulated to divert public attention.

"It never crossed my mind to quit the post. I am committed to helping solve the woes of the rakyat," he added.

He described his relationship with the Pakatan Rakyat state government as good.

Fairus said the issues concerning the fate of the rakyat were more important than anything else.

He said spreading such rumours could be part of a smear tactic to demoralise the Pakatan Rakyat coalition.

In an immediate response Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the state executive council members did not have any problem with Fairus.

"I am always in discussion with (PKR de facto leader) Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim. We do not have problem with Fairus," he said at a press conference after chairing the state Exco meeting.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Promote Penang products to enter new markets - The Star

GEORGE TOWN: Jul 13, 2008

(from left) Pristine Creation Sdn Bhd Phileas Wong, Bigkad marketing director Christine Leong and State Tourism, Culture, Arts and Heritage Committee chairman Danny Law Heng Kiang looking at Bigkad products during the opening of the “I Love Penang Brand” campaign at the New World Park in George Town in Penang last night.

There should be ongoing promotions for Penang products to enter new markets, State Tourism, Culture, Arts and Heritage Committee chairman Danny Law Heng Kiang said.

He said goods that carried the Penang brand must be of good quality.

Law was speaking when opening the inaugural "I Love Penang Brand" campaign at New World Park here on Friday night.

The three-day event organised by Pristine Creation Sdn Bhd attracted 25 participants.

Among the activities lined up are a series of talks on market trend in retail, manufacturing and services sectors, and programmes for children.

“Such an event will provide a new platform to jointly promote business and tourism under one roof,” said Law.

Pristine Creation managing director Phileas Wong said many people viewed Penang island as a food paradise, a heritage attraction or a beach and resort destination.

“We want the world to know there is more to Penang than its famous char koay teow and hokkien mee,” he said.

Wong said there were many brands that were established in Penang and exported to many parts of the world.

“This event will provide a platform to showcase Penang products. We want to make this event an annual affair,” he said.

He added the company had drawn a series of events and activities to promote local brands.

Friday, July 4, 2008

I’m all for PORR project, says Law - The Star

Jul 4, 2008

DAP elected representatives hit back at former Gerakan's Batu Uban assemblyman Goh Kheng Sneah over comments that the state government had sent “confusing signals” over the shelved Penang Outer Ring Road (PORR) project.

Penang Tourism, Culture, Arts and Heritage Committee chairman Danny Law Heng Kiang said he was all for the project, provided several concerns were addressed.

“I tabled a motion in the state assembly in 2002 to postpone PORR as there were several concerns about the project. Firstly, there was no open tender and the selection of the company to build the road was not transparent.

“Secondly, we were against the (then) state government's plan to allow the acquisition of 202ha of land in the Gurney Drive area and its agreement to give 30.8ha of prime land in George Town for the project.

“We were also against the cross subsidy concept (that allowed the company to undertake property development on reclaimed land to fund the cost of road) as we felt the Federal Government had sufficient funds to build the road,” Law said, adding that he had asked for a postponement and not cancellation of PORR.

He also said that DAP had been concerned about the proposed three toll gates on PORR as it felt it was the government’s responsibility to provide transportation routes for the public.

Law, who was speaking at a press conference in Komtar yesterday, was commenting on Goh's allegations that DAP had been against the PORR project before taking office on March 8.

On Monday, Goh, who is also Gerakan Youth Small and Medium Industries (SMI) Bureau chairman, said the state government had an inconsistent stand on PORR by citing examples of Law’s postponement motion and objections by Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s political secretary Ng Wei Aik made in August 2007.

When contacted, Ng said he was against the proposed alignment and toll collection of PORR.

“The alignment was made without any public consultation and there were many reservations on the toll collection.

“I believe some aspects of PORR need to be abandoned to ensure that the road benefits all parties,” said Ng, who is also the Komtar assemblyman.

Lim's appeal letter asks Govt to reconsider mega projects - The Star


Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng had sent an appeal letter asking the Federal Government to reconsider the four mega projects on the island state, including the deferred RM1.5bil Penang Outer Ring Road (PORR) and RM2bil monorail projects.

In the four-page letter handed personally to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on Thursday, Lim had also pressed for the implementation of the RM1.1bil Mengkuang Dam expansion project and RM40mil upgrading of the Penang Hill Railway system.

“Lim had expressed the disappointment of Penangites and the state government over the deferment of the four projects under the 9th Malaysia Plan’s mid-term review,” said his press secretary Cheong Yin Fan in a statement on Friday.

He had stated that the projects were “people centric” and its implementations were important to provide the facilities to the locals and tourists.

Lim also said among reasons why the projects should not be deferred was because the monorail project, which was an important public transportation network system, would ease the burden of the rakyat following the hike in petrol prices in the world market and the restructuring of the oil and gas subsidies by the Federal Government.

The PORR project, he said, would ease traffic congestion and indirectly spur economic activities in the state while the expansion of Mengkuang Dam would ensure cleaner water supply for Penangites after 2010.

Lim also said that the Penang Hill railway system should be given priority as it was a key tourism attraction for Penang.

Lim had also expressed that “the upgrading of its funicular train system was important as the existing system was no longer safe and could be dangerous for passengers,”

In his letter, Lim said he was made to understand that the allocation of projects in Penang under the Housing and Local Government Ministry and Tourism Ministry, which involved “millions of ringgit”, was also affected.

On Thursday, Abdullah confirmed he had received the letter from Lim during the first Northern Corridor Economic Region meeting in Kuala Lumpur but added that the PORR and monorail projects were not raised at the meeting.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

State studying proposals to build RM1bil MICE centre - The Star

Jul 3, 2008 By ANDREA FILMER

THE Penang Government is looking into three proposals to build a RM1bil Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE) centre.

Penang Tourism, Culture, Arts and Heritage Committee chairman Danny Law Heng Kiang said a decision would be made in three or four months and if green light was given, it would be one of the first projects approved to boost the state as a tourist destination.

“The state is looking into three proposals to build MICE centre to cater for large confe-rences and seminars.

Light moment: Kee (right) chatting with Law. Looking on is Nazir Ariff.

“The first location proposed is in George Town where 8.1ha of land will have to be acquired and reclaimed.

“The second proposal is by a Penang-based conglomerate to build the centre off the Jelutong Expressway in which the company owns the land.

“There is also another proposal that comes from a joint venture of Middle Eastern and local investors to build the project on 2ha of state-owned land in Bayan Mutiara,” Law told reporters after a Malaysian International Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MICCI) dialogue with Penang tourism players.

Law said the MICE proposals, each totalling to about RM1bil, would be able to house 5,000 to 8,000 people.

On proposed theme parks in the state, Law said two proposals using land in Balik Pulau were being looked into.

“Both Chinese and Middle Eastern investors in joint ventures with local companies have shown interest in building a theme park in Balik Pulau.

“One proposal is to build an 81ha theme park with lodging facilities and other attractions while the other proposal is to build a 16ha Eastern-style theme park,” he said.

Over 40 tourism representatives from hotels, airlines and tour agencies attended the luncheon-cum-dialogue at Traders Hotel.

Among those present were Penang Tourism Action Council chairman Datuk Kee Phaik Cheen and MICCI Penang branch chairman Datuk Nazir Ariff.

CM: Don’t be afraid of lodging police reports - The Star

Jul 3, 2008

THE public should not be afraid of lodging police reports as the reports would help police in data collection, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said.

He said by lodging reports the public would also be giving much required information and tip-off to the police to combat crime effectively.

“The police have identified 165 crime hotspots in the state with the North-East District topping the list with 80 locations, followed by southern Seberang Prai (41), South-West (23), Central Seberang Prai (13) and North Seberang Prai (8).

“The hotspots were determined based on the frequency of police reports lodged at the particular area,” he told reporters after receiving a courtesy call from new state chief police officer Deputy Comm Ayub Yaakob at his office in Komtar on Tuesday.

Lim reminded policemen that they must accept all reports.

The Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan, he said had repeatedly reminded the police that it was their responsibility to accept reports failing which they were at risk of losing their jobs.

On another matter, Lim said he had yet to be questioned by the police over his remarks relating to the New Economic Policy.

Lawyer Abu Backer Sidek Mohamad Zain had lodged a report against Lim on March 14, claiming that the statement by the chief minister was a “very sensitive statement”.

On April 3, then acting state police chief Datuk Salleh Md Rasid was quoted as saying police would not hesitate to call up Lim for questioning as it was a standard operating procedure during the process of an investigation.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Make clear your stance on mega projects, CM told - The Star

Jul 1, 2008

THE Pakatan Rakyat-led Government has been told to make a clear stance on the monorail and Penang Outer Ring Road (PORR) projects which were deferred in the Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP) mid-term review.

Gerakan Youth Small and Medium Industries (SMI) Bureau chairman Goh Kheng Sneah said Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng has held inconsistent views on the two projects.

“Before DAP took office, they were always against the implementation of the RM2bil monorail and RM1.5bil PORR,” he said.

He said a Chinese daily had even quoted Lim proposing a subway rather than a monorail on March 27.

Penang projects: (From left) Gerakan publicity bureau chief Khaw Veon Szu, Goh and Gerakan Wanita chairman Ng Siew Lai showing an articla on DAP members opposing the PORR.

Last August, Lim’s political secretary Ng Wei Aik was also quoted by the Chinese dailies as saying PORR should be called off.

In 2002, state executive councillor Danny Law, who was then a Batu Lanchang assemblyman, had even tabled a motion for PORR to be postponed.

“But when Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said both projects would be deferred, Lim had apparently jia xing xing (shed crocodile tears), saying he would press Abdullah in Parliament for answers over the deferment.

“I hope they will have a clear stance on the whole issue, whether for or against the projects,” he told a press conference at the Gerakan headquarters yesterday.

Goh said, “In contrast, Gerakan has always maintained a firm stand that the two projects must go on.”

On Friday, Gerakan acting president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon said Lim had sent “confusing signals” to the Federal Government that contributed to the shelving of the projects.

In respond to Goh’s comment, Lim said Gerakan leaders should not skirt the issue by trying to distract attention.

“When have I ever given conflicting statements on the issue? I have never given any statements, either before or after I took over as Chief Minister, that I am against PORR or the monorail project,” Lim said after launching Penang Hepatitis Day in Queens-bay Mall.

He said he was unaware of previous statements made by Law and Ng and emphasised that he had the final authority as the official voice of the state government.

“The stand of the Government is decided by the Chief Minister and state exco members. The Chief Minister has the power to overrule any contrary statements given by others and I have been consistent in saying that these two projects should go on,” he said.
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