Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Guan Eng stumped over agreement to pay RM33.18 million advance to IJM - Sun

GEORGE TOWN (Sept 29, 2008)by Himanshu Bhatt

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said today he was confused by the former state government’s agreement to give RM33.18 million as “advance payment in the form of a loan” to IJM Corp Bhd for the Jelutong Expressway project.

Lim told reporters he was curious why the state had decided to give the amount in a 1997 agreement when it had already given IJM land for the project which cost RM672.2 million .

“In addition to giving land, the state has to give an advance. It does not make sense,” he told a press conference at Komtar here.

Lim said his confusion was compounded by the fact that IJM also owed the state RM24.1 million for payment of the 132ha land, which is supposed to be settled only after the state had given the advance of RM33.18 million.

“I don’t understand why they can’t settle both payments by contra,” he said when asked to comment on the non-payment by IJM to the state.

Lim said he needed to get more information from state government officers.

He noted that the state was supposed to give the RM33.18 million in stages over over five years from 2005.

Meanwhile, on MCA vice-president Datuk Donald Lim Siang Chai’s call for Gerakan and MCA to merge, Lim said such a merger would only be cosmetic if the policies of the Barisan Nasional (BN) did not change.

“The problem is not Gerakan or MCA, the problem is the BN.” he said.

He also noted Gerakan acting president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon’s statement that 60% of the party’s members were inclined to leave the BN.

“If 60% of the members want to the leave, why are they still stuck in the BN?” he asked.

“If they want a leader who doesn’t listen to their views, I wish them luck!," he added.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Open tender for tourism development on Pulau Jerejak - Star


The Penang state government will have an open tender for a tourism development project on Pulau Jerejak by year-end.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng announced Monday that the project would entail “billions” in investment and take at least 10 years to complete.

He said the state wanted to promote holistic development on the former penal colony, including eco and sports tourism.

“There are also ideas for medical and film tourism on the island,” he said after meeting with Sime Darby Berhad representatives in Komtar.

“We are looking at billions (in investment) and if all goes well, we can call for tenders before the end of this year,” Lim added.

He said the state had received great interest from both foreign and local investors regarding Pulau Jerejak and other development projects on the island.

“To date, we have at least two Middle Eastern and one Asia Pacific investor who have expressed interest in creating a holistic masterplan for Pulau Jerejak. “On the local front, Sime Darby has come forward with proposals on the project and other related projects in the Northern Corridor Economic Region (NCER),” Lim said.

He added that the foreign investors involved were all linked with local companies and all tourism-related initiatives in the state would be conducted by open tender.

Lim added that there had been significant progress in other development projects in the state.

“From this Thursday to Saturday, the public will see various development policies that we have worked so hard on for the last few months. All these projects are on track,” Lim said, adding that they involved tourism projects on the state’s mainland and plans for Komtar, a state icon that houses the offices of local, state and federal authorities.

On another matter, Lim said the state would take strong action on debtors who failed to settle their state student scholarships and loans.

“There is still RM15.6mil owed through these loans from 3,416 debtors. The state intends to make these names public through newspapers and the Internet and if all fails after warning letters are sent, we will sue them,” he said.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

ISA detentions keep CM away - Star

Sept 18, 2008

PENANG Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng has apologised for turning down and cancelling several fast-breaking dinners recently.

He said in a statement that the reason was mainly due to the Sept 12 incident which saw the arrest of Sin Chew Daily’s senior reporter Tan Hoon Cheng as well as Seputeh MP and Kinrara assembly- man Teresa Kok, and blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin under the Internal Security Act 1960.

“As a CM, I have to cooperate and work with various organisations to provide support for Tan and her family.

“I have to thank state Chief Police Officer Datuk Wira Ayub Yaakob for his cooperation in the matter, too.

“As things were back to normal and stabilised with Tan’s release in less than 24 hours, I had to rush to Kuala Lumpur to show my support for the other detainees – Kok and Raja Petra, together with their family members,” he said.

He also said he hoped that no more innocent victims would become political toys for those who were irresponsible.

“Therefore in this Ramadan month while the Muslims are observing fasting, let’s unite and fight against the ISA,” he said.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

PENANG COUNCIL:Balik Pulau National Service built without permission - NST

PENANG, THURS: Sept 11, 2008

The Sri Mutiara National Service Camp in Balik Pulau, site of a landslide two days ago, was built without permission of the local authority .

Penang Municipal Council president Datuk Zainal Rahim Seman said the camp supervised by the Defence Ministry had never submitted plans to build the camp.

“The camp’s management had promised to submit us the plans but we never received them,” he told reporters after visiting the landslide site here today.

Zainal said the municipal council will conduct an investigation into the three year-old camp.

He did not discount closing it down for safety reasons.
Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the Penang and Seberang Perai Municipal Councils had been asked to ensure that national service camps were built according to procedure.

“This kind of thing should not have happened. Although national service is under the Defence Ministry, the burden to ensure that the camp is safe for trainees lies with the operator,” he said.

National Service Training Department director-general Datuk Abdul Hadi Awang Kechil said yesterday the camp would be closed if it was deemed unsafe for occupation.

The landslide behind the camp building shocked nearby residents and also destroyed several durian trees.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

All victims can seek aid - Star

Sept 9, 2008 By DERRICK VINESH

THE Penang government hopes to amend a state Welfare Department ruling to allow flood victims to apply for welfare aid despite not staying at flood relief centers.

State Health, Welfare and Caring Society Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh said the ruling, which was inherited from the previous state administration, stated that victims should stay at flood relief centres before they could apply for aid. He said the ruling was outdated.

“It has been a longstanding problem faced by flood victims whenever they wanted to seek aid to help cope with their losses.

“We understand many of them do not want to stay at the relief centre as they fear their belongings in their houses could be looted by irresponsible people,” he said in an interview yesterday.

On Sunday, several flood victims from Kampung Permatang Tok Subuh, Bukit Minyak, were unhappy when officers from the Central Seberang Prai Welfare Department disallowed them from registering for aid.

Sharifah Samariah Syed Ahmad, 46, a businesswoman, said an officer prevented her from registering because she did not stay overnight on Saturday at the village’s temporary flood relief centre.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng assured the victims that all victims could apply for aid from the Yang di-Pertua Negri’s Disaster Relief Fund.

Phee said the welfare officers were merely following standard operating procedures to register only those who stayed at flood relief centers.

“Since Lim has asked for those who did not stay at the relief centers to be included in the list of flood victims, we will do the necessary as soon as possible,” he said.

Penang State Govt lodges police report on Azhar's - NST

PENANG, TUES: Sept 9, 2008

The Penang state government today made a police report on Penang Umno liaison committee secretary Datuk Azhar Ibrahim in relation to a statement on a Sin Chew Jit Poh journalist that allegedly represents criminal intimidation.

Ng Wei Aik, political secretary to Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, made the report at the Jalan Patani police station saying that Azahar, at a news conference at the Umno building here last Friday, had allegedly said: “If anything happens among the races, he will be the first one to be shot.” Ng also forwarded a video compact disc which had a recording of Azhar’s statement at the news conference.

Timur Laut police district chief ACP Azam Abdul Hamid when contacted said investigations were being conducted.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Lim: Islam a universal way of life - Sun

GEORGE TOWN (Sept 1, 2008): by Opalyn Mok

Islam is a universal way of life and does not discriminate against race, said Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.

The DAP secretary general, in his statement wishing Muslims a happy and well Ramadhan month, said he believed that Islam is based on the core value of justice without taking into account the differences in races.

"This I fully respect. So, I hope this will be the main core to all efforts to strengthen the unity between all races in this country," he said in a media statement today.

He said the Ramadhan month is a time to test the patience and strength of Muslims while fasting and the non-Muslims should also reflect on this together with Muslims.

"He said the understanding between all races will only unite all and continue to bring development to the nation," he said.

He said he was confident that Ramadhan would fill every Malaysian's heart with the spirit of genuine unity and that the month brings justice and harmony.

"Ramadhan should be used as the basis for us to rise and fight against negativity such as corruption, abuse of power, wastage and work hard to create a society that is fair with equal opportunities for all as encouraged by religious teachings," he said.

As the Penang Chief Minister, Lim gave his guarantee that the CAT (competency, accountability and transparency) principles will be practised without fear or favour to ensure a clean state administration.

"As the DAP secretary general, I give the assurances that our fight which is also based on CAT will ensure our efforts to fight for a clean country and society," he added.

PDC to lodge police, ACA reports against Ahmad - Sun

GEORGE TOWN (Sept 2, 2008): By Himanshu Bhatt and Opalyn Mok

The Penang Development Corporation is lodging police and Anti-Corruption Agency reports against a now-defunct company, of which Umno Bukit Bendera division head Datuk Ahmad Ismail was a director, over its failure to return some RM500,000 to the state after a failed land deal.

Chief minister Lim Guan Eng said he has directed the PDC to make the reports tomorrow (Sept 3) after his administration found that Popular Profile Sdn Bhd (PPSB) had wrongfully taken and kept the money from the state in 1998. PPSB wound up in 2005.

Ahmad is currently at the centre of a storm over the alleged racist remarks he made during the Permatang Pauh by-election, which had in recent days attracted numerous police reports filed by MCA, Gerakan and DAP grassroot leaders.

Speaking at a press conference at InvestPenang here today, Lim said PPSB, with Ahmad as director, had bought a 4.2ha industrial land in Bukit Minyak from PDC for RM5.5 million in 1997.

The company placed a 20% deposit totalling RM1.1 million on May 9, 1997, but was unable to pay the full amount later. It subsequently asked for the agreement to be cancelled and the money refunded on May 30, 1998. PDC agreed to return 10% while the remaining 10% was to be forfeited.

"But the 10% that was to be returned should have been payable to Perbadanan Usahawan Nasional Bhd (PUNB), the body that had financed the purchase, not to the company," Lim said.

Noting that PPSB did not then pass the amount to the bank, Lim said PDC had to then fork out an additional RM500,000 to be paid directly to PUNB to get back the title for the land.

Lim questioned why the state did not pay the amount directly to the bank.

He also questioned the state’s rationale for giving Ahmad a "first-class datukship" by awarding him the Darjah Mulia Pangkuan Negri, which carries the title ’Datuk’ in 2002 after his company had taken and kept the money from the state.

Also present were InvestPenang executive chairman Datuk Lee Kah Choon and new general manager Wan Zailena Noordin.

Meanwhile, Penang CID chief SAC II Wan Abdullah Tuanku Said said investigations on the police reports lodged against Ahmad for allegedly uttering racist remarks are now underway.

He said the police will investigate all the police reports lodged by DAP, Gerakan and MCA against Ahmad.

"We will identify witnesses and they will be called in to give their statements on the case."

The reports lodged against Ahmad had alleged that he uttered racist comments that the Chinese are 'only immigrants' and that 'it was impossible to achieve equal rights amongst races as the Chinese were only immigrants'. He allegedly uttered those words in a ceramah in Permatang Pauh on Aug 25.

There was much furore over these alleged comments by Ahmad in the last few days, including by Barisan Nasional's component parties.

There were also calls for discipline action to be taken against Ahmad. However, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had said he would tell Ahmad not to repeat the offending words again.

Till now, any attempt to reach Ahmad through his handphone has proved futile. It is learnt he was overseas when the furore over his remarks were building up and had only returned to Malaysia on Aug 31.

Pressure mounts for action against Umno division chief - Sun

KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 1, 2008) : Opalyn Mok, Himanshu Bhatt and S. Tamarai Chelvi

Pressure is mounting on the Barisan Nasional leadership and the government to act against Umno Bukit Bendera division chief Datuk Ahmad Ismail for the alleged racist remarks he made last month during the Permatang Pauh by-election campaign.

Today, the DAP joined grassroot leaders from MCA and Gerakan in lodging police reports, urging that investigations be carried out under the Sedition Act, and that Ahmad be made to withdraw his statement and to apologise to the Chinese community for the hurtful remark.

In Port Klang, MCA vice-president Datuk Ong Tee Keat said he advocated penalty under the Sedition Act for members of BN component parties who make racially sensitive remarks.

He said such action was necessary to ensure that the remarks by the individuals were not reflective of the stand of the parties they belonged to.

"If a party wants to show that the remarks were not reflective of its stand but represented an opinion of the individual (party member), it must discipline the member so as not to give a wrong picture to the people," Bernama quoted him as saying after a visit to Westport Malaysia here.

Ong was asked to comment on Gerakan's intention to suggest to the BN supreme council that leaders of BN component parties who utter racially sensitive remarks be hauled up under the Sedition Act or other relevant laws.

Gerakan acting president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon had claimed that a racially-sensitive comment by a politician in Penang during the Permatang Pauh by-election recently had eroded the Chinese support towards the BN.

When contacted, the Penang Umno Liaison Committee said it will leave it to the BN leadership to deal with the matter.

Its deputy chairman Datuk Seri Abdul Rashid Abdullah said they did not receive any official letters, references or complaints regarding Ahmad's statement.

He declined to comment directly on the alleged remark as he had not received any references or complaints, and also did not know whether the vernacular papers which carried the report had reported the matter correctly.

He said this matter only became an issue after Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim won the Permatang Pauh by-election.

“Ahmad had allegedly made the statement on Aug 25 but nothing was mentioned at that time. Now, after BN was defeated, all sorts of issues come up,” he said.

“So many people have called me to comment on this but I can't comment when I don't even know what he said. The alleged racist statement only came out in the

Chinese newspapers and I can't read those. I didn't receive anything about it so I can't comment on something I have not seen or read,” he said.

Seberang Jaya assemblyman Datuk Arif Shah Omah Shah, who had contested in the by-election and lost, also refrained from commenting on this as he was not there when it happened.

Arif Shah however echoed Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's comment that Ahmad "may not have meant what he has said".

On Saturday, Abdullah had said that he would make sure Ahmad did not repeat his remarks.

He claimed that Ahmad probably did not mean it and that he would tell him not to do it again.

Ahmad had allegedly said the Chinese are "only immigrants" and that "as the Chinese were only immigrants, it was impossible to achieve equal rights amongst races". The report upset many leaders from MCA and Gerakan.

Gerakan vice-president Datuk Dr Teng Hock Nan expressed disappointment that Abdullah managed only a “light and non-deterrent” response to Ahmad’s remark.

“If leaders of any component parties who uttered such racist statement could be let off so lightly just like that, how can the BN leadership ensure that such racist statement will not be uttered again by any other BN political leader, be it in UMNO or any party in future. We therefore call on the UMNO and BN leadership to review its stance against Datuk Ahmad Ismail and give the public a satisfactory answer.”

In Petaling Jaya, DAP said they have simultaneously lodged police reports in all states against Ahmad.

DAP Selangor's secretary and Kampung Tunku Assemblyman Lau Weng San lodged the report at the Petaling Jaya police station at 12.43 noon.

He said they are not satisfied with the explanation given by the prime minister.

MP for PJ Utara Tony Pua said citizenship cannot be questioned and if it is questioned it is seditious and against the law.

He spoke on Clause 3 (1) (e) and (e) of Seditious Act and Federal Constitution on the citizenship.

In GEORGE TOWN, DAP Socialist Youth lodged a similar police report, urging action against Ahmad under Section 3(1)(e) of the Sedition Act 1948.

Dapsy Tanjung division secretary Ng Wei Aik, who is also the chief minister’s political secretary, made the report at the George Town district police headquarters at 11.39am yesterday. He called on Inspector General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Musa Hassan to state police’s stand on the matter.

“The law is fair to everyone, whether it is a member of the opposition or the Barisan Nasional (BN),” Ng said.

He was accompanied by Sri Delima assemblyman RSN Rayer, Dapsy national executive committee member Teh Lai Heng, and Dapsy Bukit Mertajam division chief Tan Khong Chong.

Ng said Ahmad’s reported comment that Chinese were “squatters” in Malaysia and therefore could not enjoy equality with others had “injured the feelings of the Chinese community.”

“We gave him until Aug 31 to retract his statement and apologise, but he has refused to do so,” Ng told reporters later.

Ng also defended the reference to the Sedition Act in his report.

He said the Act, which had previously been used against opposition figures like DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng and DAP chairman Karpal Singh, was legally applicable until another legislation like a proposed Anti-Hatred Act was in place.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Holiday on Sept 16 next year, says Penang CM - Star


Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the state government would definitely make Sept 16 a public holiday.

He, however, said the day would probably only be made a holiday next year.

“We probably cannot have it this year as we already declared a public holiday on Aug 26. We have to take the business industry into consideration, as a day off would greatly impact the sector,” he said Monday after attending a drainage cleanliness campaign in Tanjung Bungah near here.

Lim said this in response to PKR adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s proposal that all Pakatan Rakyat states make Sept 16 a public holiday.

Anwar had said the Government should declare Sept 16 as a public holiday to mark the anniversary of Malaysia’s formation as it was the day when Sabah and Sarawak joined the country in 1963.

He proposed that all states ruled by Pakatan Rakyat declare the day as a public holiday.

“Let us start our celebration on Aug 31 and end it on Sept 16,” he had said in his speech at a thanksgiving feast at the Seberang Jaya Expo site on Sunday to celebrate his victory in the Permatang Pauh by-election

Police reports lodged against Ahmad - Star


Komtar assemblyman Ng We Aik has lodged a police report against Bukit Bendera Umno division chief Datuk Ahmad Ismail, who allegedly called the Chinese pendatang (immigrants) during a ceramah in Permatang Pauh on Aug 25.

Ng said Ahmad's statement had hurt the feelings of all Malaysian-Chinese in the country and he should not be let off with just a light slap on the wrist.

"The DAP wants Umno leaders to take stern action against him; moreover, the police should also investigate him under Section 4 (1) of the Sedition Act 1948.

"DAP divisions in Selangor, Perak, Negri Sembilan and Malacca have been told to lodge police reports against Ahmad, whose statement is liable to cause disharmony in a united society," he told reporters after a lodging a report at the Patani Road police station on Monday with Seri Delima assemblyman R.S.N Rayer, DAP national Socialist Youth (Dapsy) Bukit Mertajam chief Tan Khong Chong and Dapsy national executive committee member Teh Lai Heng.

Rayer said that while the DAP supports freedom of speech, this did not mean that one could make statements that insulted other races.

"We had asked Ahmad to retract his statement and issue an apology but till now he just kept quiet about it. He has also been missing and no one has seen him over the past few days," Rayer said.

A police spokesman said the report would be handed over to the Bukit Mertajam investigating officer for further action.

In PETALING JAYA, Kampung Tunku assemblyman Lau Weng San also lodged a police report, accompanied by DAP national publicity secretary Tony Pua, Selangor executive councillor Ronnie Liu and several supporters.

Lau said Ahmad should apologise and retract his statement, and also urged the party whip to take disciplinary action against Ahmad as a lesson that seditious remarks which could destabilise the country's unity would not be tolerated.

"I also urge the police to conduct their own investigations into this matter and I hope appropriate action would be taken against him to quell the anger of the people," Lau said.

Melting pot of harmony - Star

Sept 1, 2008 By CHRISTINA CHIN

MULTI-CULTURAL unity took centre stage during the state-level National Day celebrations in Penang on Sunday.

Clad in traditional costumes, 150 cultural performers added a dash of colour to the coastal road in front of Queensbay Mall.

The mall’s front entrance on Persiaran Bayan Indah was filled with students, avid photographers and Penangites keen on catching the National Day parade.

Jelutong MP Jeff Ooi was spotted — not among the VIPs, but among the professional photographers with their SLR (single lens reflex) cameras and bulky equipment.

Ooi admitted to having a soft spot for the latest cameras.

On the main dais, with the iconic Penang Bridge standing proudly behind it, were Penang Yang di-Pertua Negri Tun Abdul Rahman Abbas and his consort Toh Puan Majimor Shariff, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, several elected representatives and their spouses.

To mark the start of the celebration, the Rukunegara was recited and seven shouts of “Merdeka!” broke the silence of the clear, blue morning.

Colourful show: Performers in traditional costumes parading at the coastal road in front of Queensbay Mall.

A traditional Malay kampung ‘house’ (an elaborate prop) served as the stage, while a huge Jalur Gemilang that draped the mall, provided a patriotic backdrop for the Semarak Merdeka cultural show.

Featuring a combination of songs, sketches, boria and sajak presentations, the show was a summary of Penang’s history and traditional heritage.

The main event — a procession of 7,672 participants from 96 contingents — was up next.

All the participants were from non-governmental organisations (NGOs), uniformed bodies, schools and learning institutions, and the private and public sectors.

In full camouflage: The armed forces contingent marching in the parade.

While the school bands impressed the crowd with their musical talent and well-rehearsed marches, the armed forces, po- lice and rescue and fire department drew loud cheers as they showed off their artillery and vehicles.

The huge fire trucks, rescue boats and jet skis as well as the newly-polished superbikes were among the wheels that were on parade.

Wearing everything from spiffy uniforms to vibrant batik shirts and formal kebaya, the participants seemed oblivious to the sweltering heat as they sang and waved to the crowd.

The crowd watching a band marching past.

Prizes were later presented to the top three NGOs and uniformed bodies, school bands, private sector organisations, institutes of higher learning and training institutes, and government departments.

The champions of each of the five categories were: Former Malaysian Armed Forces Regiment (NGOs and uniform bodies category); SM Heng Ee (school bands category); Agilent Technologies (private sector organisations category); Penang Regional Development Authority (Perda) Training Institute (institutes of higher learning and training institutes category); and the Inland Revenue Board (government departments category).

More than 150 policemen, enforcement officers from the Penang Municipal Council, Rela members and Civil Defence Department officers, were deployed to control the traffic and crowd.