GEORGE TOWN: Jul 21, 2008 By PRISCILLA DIELENBERG and CHRISTINA CHIN
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.