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Press Statement by Lim Guan Eng in Penang on Monday, 18th August 2008: 

Koh Tsu Koon dishonest to say now that the Penang State EXCO minutes are minimal and meaningless when he had never complained before that it was inadequate but instead had fully relied on them for the last 18 years as Chief Minister for decision-making  

PGRM Acting President Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon is dishonest to say in his statement on 16.8.2008 that my offer to allow him access to confidential EXCO minutes to let him refresh his memory to prepare for the RM 124 million land scam debate is minimal and meaningless when he had never complained before that the EXCO minutes was inadequate but instead had fully relied on them for the last 18 years as Chief Minister. Koh has instead chosen to attack my unprecedented offer to declassify EXCO minutes for his benefit, which has never been done by his or any government.

Koh said that he would reject my offer to let him have access to have his own EXCO minutes because he would not have all the documents he required and that 5 other former EXCO members were not allowed to accompany him and be present. This government has rejected the 5 other EXCOs and his political secretary to be present because they are not participating in the debate.

His complaint that EXCO minutes are somehow incomplete is baseless and wrong because it is the duty of government departments to provide all relevant information to the EXCO before a decision is made. I have further checked the EXCO minutes and all additional information are enclosed as appendices and are part of the minutes.

Koh should know that has always been the practice to provide to the EXCO what has been provided to the Land Committees. For Koh to say that the EXCO minutes of the land scam are minimal and meaningless is also unreasonable when he is fully aware that the documents required were fully available and had never previously doubted the information submitted by the relevant departments such as the Land Office.

Clearly Koh is trying to gain public sympathy that he is debating with me under a “handicap” despite his 18 years experience as Chief Minister. I will let the public decide whether he is debating under a handicap when the Gerakan had arranged for the organizer of the forum and the moderator Datuk Johan Jaffar, both leaning towards UMNO and BN.

Koh stubbornly insists that I had set two conditions when I had only asked for the debate to be held unconditionally and in Penang. Even though he refuses to debate in Penang but in Shah Alam on 20 August, I will still go because Penangnites have a right to know the truth about this land scam,

• why no action was taken against those responsible;

• the rationale for these wrong decision that were made not in the public interests, especially when even the former Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya admitted that the previous government had made a mistake which he(Hilmi) accepted full responsibility; and

• whether there are any more hidden land scams that has seriously affected our state’s finances and future development plans.

Gerakan leaders are now trying to distract attention by asking how I could discover so many land scams when all our offices had no files and we walked into an essentially empty office after taking power on 8 March 2008. This is not unusual as DAP leaders are known for our ability to dig out scandals and abuses of power. If we can uncover and expose scandals whilst in opposition without access to any official records, what more when we are in government?

Koh should come clean on these land scams and not protect those who are responsible for these land scams. If he chooses to cover up for those responsible, then he has not learnt the lessons of the political tsunami of March 8 general elections when he and BN lost in Penang because he could not deliver what the people clearly wanted – a CAT government centered on competency, accountability and transparency.

* Lim Guan Eng, Penang Chief Minister Penang & DAP Secretary-General