Statement by Lim Guan Eng in Penang on Tuesday, 5th August 2008:
Koh Tsu Koon should have a debate now without setting any pre-conditions
Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon should have a debate now without
setting any pre-conditions instead of desperately trying to stifle
discussion, discourse and even debate of the RM 124 million twin land
scams in Penang committed under his administration. Koh should act
decisively and make up his mind whether he wants to debate the land
scams instead of desperately setting up conditions and excuses to avoid
and delay this proposed debate.
By Koh demanding that, “Lim Guan Eng has to immediately retract and stop
mentioning again his often repeated open allegations, since March 2008
regarding the potential loss of RM40.0 million by the state government
in this case,” it is clear that this is politically motivated as part of
BN’s preparations for the up-coming Permatang Pauh by-election.
When DAP leaders were in opposition, we accepted debates without
imposing any conditions out of our motivation to discover the truth.
Then we did not have the benefit of being in government like Koh. Why
should Koh behave differently by imposing all sorts of conditions before
debating when he should be manfully debating without any conditions like
a true opposition seeking the truth, promoting public participation and
I wish to state that I had never issued a challenge for debate but when
asked by a reporter whether I would debate I had replied that I would
accept if that was the only way of Tan Sri Dr Koh to come clean and
allow the public to get to the bottom of the largest scandal in the
history of Penang. When I assumed the post of Chief Minister, I had
requested to meet him privately many times to discuss the problems left
by his government and how we can face these challenges together to
minimise losses. But despite Koh’s promises to meet me, he has broken
every single one of them.
That is why I have no confidence that if I agree to a delay, he would
keep his promise. If Koh is sincere about minimising the potential
losses faced by the state government, he should not be afraid to meet me
privately and discuss these issues. After all I have met former Chief
Minister Tun Datuk Seri Utama Dr Lim Chong Eu privately without any
problems within the first two weeks of coming to power.
Is Tan Sri Dr Koh still trying to run and hide from the responsibility
and mistakes made by his administration. By setting conditions for a
debate, Koh is still trying to run away from his moral responsibility
and ethical duty to meet and co-operate with the new government to get
to the bottom of land scams that happened in his administration to see
how losses can be minimised, determine the causes and culprits
responsible as well as overcome weaknesses to prevent another repeat of
such land scandals. How can Dr Koh pretend that everything is okay and
let the new government face the rot of these scandals without our
knowledge and make it almost impossible to assess the true financial
situation so that we can plan our programmes beneficial to the people?
The admission by former Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya
and ex-Chairman of the Penang Executive Council Land Committee on one of
the land scams that the previous government had made a mistake which he
accepted full responsibility, had left Tan Sri Dr Koh no choice but to
concede that the state government faced potential losses of RM 40
This leaves the important question in the public’s mind why Koh did not
come clean when the land scam happened five years ago but had to wait
for a change of government for this scandal to be exposed? Such failure
to come clean does not fulfil the principles of CAT(Competency,
Accountability and Transparency) and may even be interpreted as an
attempt to cover-up the twin 124 million land scams from public
We should not be afraid of admitting mistakes honestly made as we are
only human. The new Penang state government practices CAT by admitting
the mistake made by the Land Office in issuing the wrong forms for
application to convert their residential homes to freehold status even
before any member of the public knew about it.
If Koh prefers to play politics then to help Penangnites resolve and
punish those involved in these land scams by co-operating with the new
state government, he should answer 7 questions posed by me.
to implement land procedures that could have prevented such a
grievous error that the land was mistaken as state land and then
granted to one individual;
have approved to be leased to an individual such a big piece of land
for 10.6 acres for quarrying purpose;
whether through the Land Committee chaired by Datuk Dr Hilmy or the
State EXCO chaired by him, could have given such approvals when all
the technical government departments had opposed the application for
refused to implement an earlier out-of court settlement of RM 1.8
million to Tan Hak Ju;
to take stern action against the government staff responsible and
only issued a warning to him;
to transfer him out of his present position in his department and
was only transferred out by the new government when we took over
after 11 March 2008.
claim that internal investigation by EXCO members was still
continuing when it was completed in 2006?
to come clean and take full responsibility like Datuk Dr Hilmy is
regrettable and not in the public interest. Even though Koh has no
personal interest or benefit in these two land scams, his failure to act
is a classic example of “Evil exists because good people do nothing”,
where one may be personally clean but yet allows or close a blind eye to
malpractices or abuses by those surrounding or close to him.
Lim Guan Eng, Penang Chief
Minister & DAP