Forward    Feedback    


No fairy tales on the Mermaid Island but certainly a windfall for the organiser of Monsoon Cup

Media Statement
by Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew  


(Petaling Jaya, Sunday) :  What is happening in Terengganu is worrying. Recently, the former Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, declared that the state is currently 'ruled' by Khairy Jamaluddin, the son-in-law of Prime Minister Dato Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, and his business partner, Dato Patrick Lim.
Judging from what we have seen and heard about the Monsoon Cup episode there may be some truth in Mahathir's accusation.
We have no qualms if the Terengganu Government wants to promote the state as a tourist destination. In fact, any effort to promote Terengganu should be commended and encouraged. But for the government to spend a whooping RM220 million just to organise an event is simply mind-boggling and unjustifiable. And that was just the amount spent for the inaugural Monsoon Cup, a match race for sailing boats in 2005.
The 2005 Monsoon Cup held in Pulau Duyong (Mermaid Island) was a big flop as far as the sporting event was concerned (guess what, there was no strong wind and the boats were 'reluctant' to sail and remained dead in the water!). But who cares when the organiser has already pocketed mega bucks out of it. ( The pictures attached illustrate how boring the race was without the wind.)
This year, under the personal blessing from PM Abdullah Badawi, the budget has been increased. Terengganu Government (or rather, the Prime Minister's Department) has set aside RM300 million to organise the event from Nov 29 to Dec 4. We mentioned Prime Minister's Department because we have reason to believe that the project was initiated by Khairy Jamaluddin and his good friend Patrick Lim, and the RM300 million actually comes from the oil royalty, Wang Ehsan (Goodwill Money).
PM Abdullah apparently personally chairs the meetings and has expressed his full support for the plan ( The New Straits Times, May 10 2006). He has also visited the 30 bungalows built specially for the event (each costing a million ringgit) after the meeting. He described the 'disastrous' 2005 Monsoon Cup a huge success and he wanted this year's event to be bigger and grander than last year's with an increase in the prize money.
(By the way, ever since the Wang Ehsan was taken away from the Pas-controlled state government, it has grown to more than RM1 billion a year thanks to the rising price of petroleum. It's in the hands of PM Abdullah and he decides what to do with the money.)
That could have explained why we are about to witness all kinds of 'unthinkable' mega projects and events in Terengganu. Amongst those mega projects are:
1) The Crystal Mosque at the Pusat Tamadun Islam) on a little island off the shore of Kuala Terengganu costing RM300 million.
2) The new Pulau Ketam to Losong bridge costing RM400 million.
3) The Terengganu IT development signed with a Hong Kong company costing RM200 million.
4) The Maritime Academy costing RM20 million.
These are just some of them and more are being planned even as you read this. S o who says Pak Lah is not into mega projects like his predecessor Dr Mahathir Mohamad?
The Monsoon Cup has done very little for the locals. Selling some prawn crackers and keropok lekor to some Mat Salleh tourists cannot make much money. The mega bucks are all being made in Putrajaya.
I was told that the Monsoon Cup is under the charge of the Chairman for state EXCO on development and infrastructure, Wan Hisham Wan Salleh, though he is not the EXCO member in charge of tourism. His brother, Wan Farid Wan Salleh, happens to be the political secretary of the Home Minister who is also the Prime Minister. We hope it was just a pure coincidental and not another case of 'all in the family'.
We urge PM Abdullah to put a stop to the exorbitant 'money-spinning' Monsoon Cup. The Government should instead use the money saved from the event to help the needy and poor in the state. Terengganu is after all said to be the second poorest state in Malaysia according to a Malaysian Business report. Even a full and comprehensive advertising campaign to sell Terengganu would not cost so much. He should also rethink about the RM300 million Crystal Mosque on the island plus the host of other events announced by the Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh yesterday.
According to The Straits Times today, Idris Jusoh has lined up the Sultan's Cup Terengganu Endurance Challenge, which will be held over two days from Nov 25, a series of event right up to December 2006. Who would want to visit Terengganu except for the boat racers during the monsoon rain season? Why spend huge money when the benefits are so little?  After all, Wang Ehsan is not Idris Jusuh's or Abdullah Badawi's money. The money belongs to the people of Terengganu and Malaysia.


*  Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew, DAP CEC member and NGO Bureau Chief

Your e-mail:

Your name: 

Your friend's e-mail: 

Your friend's name: