Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Guan Eng and aide lodge police report over death threats - Star

GEORGE TOWN: Aug 26, 2008

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and his political secretary Ng Wei Aik said they have received a death threats for exposing land scams.

They said they received a letter, written in Chinese and in red ink, warning them that they would not be alive after the Hungry Ghost Festival, which ends Aug 30.

Lim said the letter addressed to Lim and Ng was sent to the chief minister's Komtar office on Thursday. Both men lodged a police report at the Petani Road police station at 9.13am yesterday.

Lim said that despite the threats the state government would continue to expose land scams.

The letter read: “You are both mad dogs, smelly dogs who are barking incessantly. Do you know how the word ‘death’ is written? God is seeing everything you are doing. Both of you will definitely get what you deserve, especially Wei Aik, because too many people want to finish you off. Perhaps, you won’t be alive anymore after the Hungry Ghost Festival.”

The writer signed off as a Penangite. The writer also enclosed two articles dated Aug 16 from a Chinese daily.

The first article was on Lim questioning his predecessor Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon about financial loss incurred by Penang Development Corporation. The other one was about Ng asking Dr Koh not to play with the people’s emotions by fishing for their sympathy.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Many Penangites skipped live telecast of debate - Star


While many Penangites were glued to their television sets for the debate on land issues between the current and former chief ministers, many others gave the live telecast a skip.

A street poll here showed that many did not catch the live debate on Wednesday night between Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and his predecessor Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon.

Those who did catch The True Story Behind the Land Controversy in Penang said they were dissatisfied that there was no definite conclusion reached at the end of the programme.

Convenience store worker Azlan Rahim, 24, said he felt frustrated with the outcome.

"The reason I watched the debate was because I wanted a clearer picture of the situation. It was also a chance to see our new and old leaders respond to each other," he said.

He added that he would have preferred to watch a live debate on other matters such as the welfare of the rakyat and Penang's infrastructure, rather than on the land issue although it involved millions of ringgit.

Insurance agent Annie Cheong, 33, said she was eager to watch the debate but felt let down after that: "I don't think there is any result from the debate. It's just the same things I read in the newspapers. Nothing new."

She said that instead of a debate, it should have been a live call-in programme to answer questions from the public.

Programme consultant Suriany Che Ani, 31, complained that both sides kept highlighting the same points again and again.

"If both of them were to debate again, I think they better do it in English instead. Although they both speak Bahasa Malaysia well, they would have been able to express what they wanted to say better in English," she added.

College lecturer Tan Ching Mei, 32, said the beginning of the programme was boring but the pace picked up after a while.

"I was not one of those keenly anticipating the debate. I just watched the programme for a chance to hear both sides at the same time and know what is happening," she said, adding that she missed the ending, as she was busy.

Her colleague Prakash Vello, 38, said he was sorry he missed the debate even though he heard from others that it was inconclusive.

"This was an opportunity for both parties to shed light on the matter," he added.

Auctioneer Angeline Woo, 32, said she badly wanted to watch the debate but had other matters to attend to.

"I heard that it was an intense debate with no conclusion," she said.

Chong Wei ‘manipulated’ by BN, says Guan Eng - Star


Olympic silver medallist Lee Chong Wei has clearly been "manipulated" by the Barisan Nasional when he agreed to receive his RM300,000 cheque in Permatang Pauh.

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said there was no need to send Lee back to Permatang Pauh using an airplane provided by the Defence Ministry and landing at an airforce base for the purpose of the Permatang Pauh by-election campaign.

"In fact, I understand that he's back here today. Why can't the cheque presentation take place in Kuala Lumpur?

"It's quite clear that he's been manipulated and Barisan is using the ceremony to their advantage for the campaign.

"Similarly, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has also been using the ministry's facilities in his campaign by flying to Penang.

"The use of the Defence Ministry's facilities for the by-election is improper, a form of abuse and a waste of public funds," he told reporters Thursday at the Parliament lobby here.

Lim said on the contrary, neither he nor any other DAP members use their official state cars when they go campaigning.

"We drive our own private cars. This should be the way. Clearly, Barisan has not learnt its lesson from the March 8 general election," he said.

The badminton player received the cheque from Najib in a ceremony in Butterworth on Wednesday night.

He also received RM3,000 being the pension reward the Government had promised for the feat. The payments which begin next month are for life.

Lim said Najib should differentiate between private political interest and his government posts.

Asked about the conferment by Yang di-Pertua Negri Tun Abdul Rahman Abbas of the Darjah Setia Pangkuan Negeri (DSPN) award on Lee on Aug 30, which carries the title "Datuk", Lim said the ceremony would take place after the polling date in Permatang Pauh.

"This is because we don't want to be seen as taking advantage of him," he said.

On the clash between Chong Eng (DAP - Bukit Mertajam) and Zulkifli Nordin (PKR - Kulim-Bandar Baru) in Dewan Rakyat on Wednesday, Lim said it was up to PKR to discipline the latter.

In the disagreement between Chong and Zulkifli on the Bar Council "Conversion to Islam" forum, the latter had called Chong "racist" and "anti-Islam".

Lim said he knew for a fact that Chong was not racist as her husband is an Indian and she is extremely popular with Malay voters in her constituency.

"I am disappointed with Zulkifli. I would expect such a statement to come from Umno and not from him - a PKR member," he said.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Dr Koh: BN state govt had near perfect land record - Star

KUALA LUMPUR: Aug 21, 2008

Penang under the Barisan Nasional government had a near-perfect record in handling land matters if not for five to seven "botched" cases, former Penang Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon said.

He said the state Exco's performance would have been more than 99.9% if not for the botched cases in a debate entitled The True Story Behind the Land Controversy in Penang organised by online media Agenda Daily. In replying to the land scam allegations by current Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng that the previous state government was still trying to cover up their tracks, Dr Koh said: "Don't use two or three cases to blame the previous government and tarnish our name.

"Every year the state Exco solved more than 500 land papers, which meant that in 15 years it was almost 10,000 cases. If there were mistakes in not more than seven cases, our performance is already 99.9%," Koh said yesterday.

His debate opponent Lim Guan Eng, however, had a cynical reply at hand.

"It's worrying enough to have only six or seven cases as it already involves up to millions of ringgit," he said.

Lim had also questioned Dr Koh repeatedly as to why the officer involved in the RM40mil botched land deal was only given a warning, to which Dr Koh replied that the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) had investigated the matter twice, but did not have "solid evidence that a crime had occurred".

Dr Koh then took his turn to pry Lim instead.

Dr Koh: The case is still open. The Chief Minister can still take action. Why has he not conducted a deeper investigation than the one done by the previous government?

Lim: Why didn't we do more internal investigations? It's double jeopardy. How can we punish him twice for the same mistake? But in the first place, why was he let off with only a warning?

To a question that Lim had also accused Koh of leaving him with an empty office without any files, Dr Koh replied: "His accusation is altogether baseless. The Chief Minister's office on the 28th floor (of the Komtar Building in Penang) is 4,267sq metres (14,000 sq ft). And the Chief Minister's office alone is less than 609 sq metres (2000sq ft).

"But most important is the bilik sulit (private room). In the office there are thousands of files. This is a case of shooting before looking, and one that causes misunderstanding to the rakyat," he said.

Chong Wei to get Datukship - NST

PENANG, WED: Aug 20, 2008

Penang will award shuttler Lee Chong Wei, the state’s first Olympic silver medallist, with the Darjah Setia Pangkuan Negeri (DSPN) award, which carries the title Datuk, on Aug 30.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said Chong Wei was being honoured because he had done not only Penang but also Malaysia proud with his achievement as the first Penangite to win a silver medal at the world’s biggest sports event.

“Even though Malaysians were disappointed that he failed to win the gold medal, we are proud of his singular achievement which has brought joy to both state and country,” he said at a news conference here today.

He said the Penang state government hoped that this recognition of his achievement would spur Choong Wei to break more records and achieve greater success to win greater glory for both Penang and Malaysia.

Lim said Governor Tun Abdul Rahman Abbas consented to award the Datukship to Chong Wei in his meeting with the chief minister at the governor’s residence, Seri Mutiara, here yesterday.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Penang orders review of 10-year-old Bayan Lepas land deal - Star

BUTTERWORTH: Aug 14, 2008

The state government has ordered a review of a 10-year-old deal involving industrial land in Bayan Lepas brokered during the previous state administration that resulted in the state losing RM500,000.

“The company paid a RM1mil deposit, which was 20% of the land price. When they could not pay the balance, 10% of their deposit was forfeited.

“The state should have made a profit of RM500,000 from the forfeited deposit but instead, it used the money to pay a financial institution to get back the land,” Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng told reporters after launching the DAP’s Permatang Pauh by-election operations room.

“No explanation was given. We don’t know what happened and I’ve asked for a review. Why did we lose RM500,000?” he said.

Lim had previously unveiled two cases that he claimed could have caused RM124mil in losses to the state.

Lim and former chief minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon are set to debate on the state's land issues on Aug 20.

RM1 mil PDC blunder - Sun

SEBERANG PERAI (Aug 13, 2008) By Himanshu Bhatt

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng spiced up the run-up to the Permatang Pauh by-election by disclosing yet another land transaction blunder by the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) state government.

Lim, who is also DAP secretary-general, revealed that a company related to a "big" BN personality had been unduly given RM500,000 as deposit refund by the Penang Development Corporation (PDC).

But it made a mistake by giving the money directly to the buyer, instead of the buyer's financing institution.

The PDC was then forced to fork out an additional RM500,000 to pay the financial institution, Lim disclosed. The company folded up without returning the money it had taken, he added.

The refund was given after the company failed to make full payment for a piece of land in the Bayan Lepas industrial area that it bought from the PDC.

Lim questioned why no action was taken in this case that occurred 10 years ago.

"Why was such an error allowed to happen?" he asked.

He said this while opening the DAP’s Permatang Pauh by-election operation centre here.

At a separate event, former chief minister and acting Gerakan president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon declined to comment except to say that the facts would be made known in due course.

"Let Lim reveal whatever he wants to reveal," Koh said.

Lim earlier explained that the company had paid a 20% deposit to obtain the land, but when it could not pay the remaining 80%, it appealed that its deposit not be forfeited.

The PDC then decided to return half the deposit amounting to RM500,000.

Lim said he has asked for an internal investigation and that the case be reviewed.

"We (Pakatan Rakyat) want to have a new approach in government. We have to start cleaning up all the dirt," he said.

He also cautioned that the PKR cannot be guaranteed victory in the by-election, and asked supporters not to be over-confident.

"We have to work hard to convince the people that this by-election is important for the future of Permatang Pauh, the state and the country.

"This is the first time a by-election will determine the design of the government not just for the state, but for the whole nation."

On a complaint by Umno that the returning officer’s administration in Permatang Pauh had been infiltrated by the opposition in the last general election, Lim questioned why such an issue was being brought up now.

"If they were unhappy, they should have filed an election petition," he said.

"Why complain now?" he asked.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

CM and former CM to debate land controversy - Star


Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and his predecessor Tan Sri Koh Tsu Koon have agreed to debate the land controversy in Penang.

Organiser Agenda Daily said both participants had on Tuesday confirmed their attendance for the public debate, which will take place at 9pm on Aug 20.

Lim and Koh had also agreed on the topic of the debate, which is entitled "The true story behind the land controversy in Penang" (Kisah benar kontroversi tanah di Pulau Pinang).

The debate will also be aired live on either NTV7 or TV9.

Agenda Daily editor Hanafiah Man said about 200 people would be invited to attend the event, which would either be held at the Media Prima studio in Shah Alam or at Dewan Bahasa and Pustaka in Kuala Lumpur.

"It is only by invitation as we have to control the crowd. If anyone is interested in attending, they can fax Agenda Daily at 03-4042 5100," he said.

Hanafiah said the format of the debate would be similar to the recent public debate on fuel prices by Information Minister Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek and PKR adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim on July 15.

Lim and Koh will each speak during six five-minute intervals in the debate, which will be moderated by Datuk Johan Jaafar.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Penang seeks RM200mil soft loan for conservation - Star

GEORGE TOWN: Aug 8, 2008

Penang is seeking a RM200mil soft loan from the Federal Government for its heritage conservation action plan after it was listed as one of the world’s heritage site.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said he sent a letter on this to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on Friday.

“The loan will enable the state government and private owners to conserve and repair heritage buildings here.”

He said the action plan would be implemented in stages to ensure success and effectiveness.

Lim also urged Abdullah to note that such a loan was approved for RM80mil in 2000 for the previous state government’s urban renewal and restoration of decontrolled pre-war houses programme.

“In the same year, the first round of loans amounting to RM20mil was given out. However, in view of poor awareness among the locals, the loans did not get much response and were returned with interest to the federal government in 2004,” he said.

With the George Town’s Unesco listing and increasing public awareness, the state greatly hoped its appeal for the loan would be granted, he said.

Copies of the letter were distributed to the media during Lim’s press conference Friday.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Report dirty eateries, council urges public - Star

Aug 7, 2008 By WINNIE YEOH

THE public will have to take on a ‘watchdog role’ and report dirty and unhygienic eateries to the authorities whenever they come across such places.

Penang Island Municipal Council’s (MPPP) Urban Ser- vices, Public Health and Licensing department director Dr Goh Kok Yeung said public tip-off would come in handy as the council’s enforcement officers who conduct checks on restaurants, food outlets and street hawkers every week had a large area to cover.

He also said since January, the council had issued about 3,000 compounds to food operators who flouted health regulations and guidelines.

Dr Goh also said the council was continuously conducting awareness programmes for food operators and handlers for free to encourage cleanliness.

Keep your eyes peeled:Fill the tummy but tell on hawkers who fail to uphold hygienic food handling practices.

“It is compulsory for them to attend the programme and they have to be vacci- nated for a minimal charge of RM20,” he said, adding that the council vaccinates an average of 6,000 food operators and handlers yearly.

He said so far the council had not revoked any operation licences but had issued warnings to stall operators who failed to comply with the council’s regulations like wearing aprons and protective caps, gloves, using utensils when handling foods and having proper disposal bins .

He also said each offender would be fined RM20 to RM80 depending on the gravity of the offence.

“These stall operators might ‘behave’ when our officers are there but do otherwise after we leave,” he added.

He also said the council was working closely with the private sector to relocate some hawker stalls to a suitable site

He added that public tip-offs on dirty eateries could be channelled to MPPP’s 24-hour hotline at 04-2637637.

Dr Koh and Guan Eng to debate Aug 20 - Star

KUALA LUMPUR: Aug 7, 2008

The open debate between acting Gerakan president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon and Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng is on.

It will be organised by news portal Agenda Daily on Aug 20 in Shah Alam, at a venue be announced later.

The debate, to be aired live by a television station belonging to the Media Prima Group, will touch on various current issues with specific focus on matters related to Penang, including the so-called "land scam controversy" which is being heard in court.

"Both sides have agreed on the location (Shah Alam). They have agreed that the debate would be in Bahasa Malaysia, based on the US presidential debate format and moderated by Datuk Johan Jaafar," Agenda Daily news editor Hanafiah Man said.

However, they had yet to reach a consensus on the title for the debate although they had agreed that the topics should be current and concerning Penang, he added.

The news portal had earlier set up a debate between Information Minister Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek and PKR adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim on the fuel price hike and its socio-economic implications. The debate, also moderated by Johan, was held last month at Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka here and was aired by several TV stations.

This will be the second meeting between Dr Koh and Lim in a debate. They had their first discourse 20 years ago at the Penang Town Hall when both were Youth leaders of Gerakan and DAP respectively.

When contacted on Thursday night, Lim hoped that Dr Koh would not set any conditions for the debate.

He also said it should be on the land scam issue in Penang.

"What the people want to know is about the land scam. If you want to debate on other issues, it will defeat the purpose," he said. - Bernama

CM signs miniature boat - Star

Aug 6, 2008

A MINIATURE dragon boat made of aluminium cans caught the attention of spectators at the Dragon Boat Races at Teluk Bahang Dam on Sunday.

And the owner was eagerly waiting for Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng to autograph the boat.

Construction worker Yeoh Seng Hoo was waiting for Lim to arrive at the 6th International Dragon Boat Federation Club Crew World Championships (IDBF CCWC) and 8th Asian Dragon Boat Championships.

Lim (centre) autographing Yeoh's miniature dragon boat.

Lim was accompanying Penang Yang di-Pertua Negri Tun Abdul Rahman to grace the function.

“It took me three months and 30 aluminium cans to complete the miniature boat,” Yeoh said, referring to his masterpiece that was made of recycled materials.

Aluminium cans were used to make the base of the boat, tissue paper for the dragon’s head and tail and newspapers to make the six dolls sitting in the boat.

“I hope this boat will remind the Chief Minister of the need to promote recycling,” he said.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Debate unconditionally, Guan Eng tells Dr Koh - Star


Former Penang Chief Minister Tan Sri Koh Tsu Koon should debate on the state's land scams during his administration without setting pre-conditions, said his successor Lim Guan Eng.

"Dr Koh should be decisive and make up his mind whether he wants to debate the RM124mil twin land scams in Penang instead of desperately setting conditions and making excuses," Lim said Tuesday.

He was commenting on the two conditions set by Dr Koh on Monday for a debate between him and Lim. Dr Koh had asked that the debate be conducted fairly and only after the conclusion of a court hearing on a land scam case involving a RM40mil suit.

"Why should Dr Koh behave differently by imposing all sorts of conditions when he should debate like a true opposition member seeking the truth, promoting public participation and accountability?" Lim told a press conference.

"It is clear that this act is politically motivated as part of Barisan Nasional's preparations for the upcoming Permatang Pauh by-election."

He also accused Dr Koh of trying to "gag" him by demanding that he immediately retract and stop mentioning the potential loss of RM40mil due to a land scam that occurred during the previous administration.

"If he does not want to debate on the scams, the state government is willing to meet him privately to get to the bottom of this scandal."

Lim clarified that he had never issued a challenge to Dr Koh for a debate but said he would take part in one if that was the only way for Dr Koh to come clean on the land issues.

He also said he had requested to meet with Dr Koh privately many times since becoming Chief Minister in March but the latter had yet to meet him.

"The recent admission by a former deputy chief minister and state Land Committee chairman Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya that the previous state government made a mistake on one of the land scams and his accepting full responsibility for it leaves Dr Koh no choice but to concede that the state government faces a potential RM40mil loss.

"Why didn't Dr Koh come clean about it when the scam happened five years ago instead of waiting for a change of government to have it exposed? This may be interpreted as an attempt to cover up."