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.