Opening Speech By DAP Secretary-General Lim Guan Eng At The 2015 Penang State Ordinary Convention In Equatorial Hotel On 29.11.2015.
The Penang Story Of Good Governance Delivering A Clean, Green, Safe And Healthy State Provides A Platform For A Malaysia That Is Free From Corruption, Free From Discrimination Based On Racist Chauvinism And Extremism, Free From Abuses Of Power And Injustices As Well As Free From Economic Stagnation.
Let me warmly welcome all members and delegates to the 2015 State Ordinary Convention and congratulate all, for your love and support for the party and state leadership, that has enabled DAP to grow as a Malaysian party and provide that stability for us to govern Penang well. I wish to also thank all for your contributions to the state government that has enabled us to prove to the people that a clean government can perform better than a dirty and corrupt government.
We gather today at an important meeting of our Penang party delegates with the eyes of the nation focused on how we face the ferocious attacks and lies by our political opponents and the BN-controlled media seeking to destroy not only our party but also our government. Never is there such intense media scrutiny with record number of outstation media present today.
I believe that the delegates and members today will provide an answer – that our members, our family that is the DAP, will stand together united against those who seek to destroy us. We in the DAP are not like UMNO, where their President and the Deputy President fight against each other. Here is our DAP family we support each other. Sdr Chow Kon Yeow has supported me as DAP Secretary-General and Penang Chief Minister whilst I have supported him as Penang DAP Chairman and senior state EXCO member – essential to the success of Penang DAP and Penang state government.
We in the DAP are not like MCA, who dare not even support their former President Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik, who is facing a legal suit by the Prime Minister merely for asking Datuk Seri Najib to resign. Instead we in the DAP give full undivided support to our political mentor, Sdr Lim Kit Siang, who was kicked out of Parliament for speaking up on the 1MDB RM42 billion and the RM2.6 billion donation scandal.
Together under first Pakatan Rakyat, then under Pakatan Harapan, we have shown a model of governance that is superior to BN. The Penang Story of good governance delivering a clean, green, safe and healthy state provides a platform for a Malaysia that is free from corruption, free from discrimination based on racist chauvinism and extremism, free from abuses of power and injustices as well as free from economic stagnation
Bankruptcy Is Not In The Public Interest
DAP, as a party and a government, will always defend public interest. There are those who claim that by approving 60 acres of reclaimed land, we no longer defend public interest, conveniently overlooking and forgiving BN for approving 3,241 acres of reclaimed land. In their haste to attack us, they fail to mention how much the Penang people was cheated that BN approved some of the reclaimed land as low as RM1 per square feet – a price so low that we have to go as far back as 1786 when Captain Francis Light first landed in Penang
We are even condemned for refusing to postpone new reclamation, again conveniently forgetting that out of 3,241 acres of reclaimed land approved by BN, only 744 acres have been reclaimed. Nearly 2,500 acres are awaiting to be newly reclaimed.
We can postpone the reclamation of the balance of 2,500 acres but we would have to pay compensation amounting to RM1 billion and driving the state into bankruptcy. Bankruptcy is definitely not in the public interest.
Now UMNO claims that their proposal to postpone reclamation does not include BN-approved reclamation projects. If so, I challenge UMNO to put in a motion providing an indemnity from the Federal government to pay back-to-back any compensation to be paid by the state government for postponing such reclamation projects.
I would definitely support such a motion by UMNO provided there is an indemnity clause from the Federal government.
Of course there are those who do not care whether the Penang state government goes bankrupt provided we defend the public interest. This is irresponsible. DAP and the Pakatan Harapan Penang state government will never allow Penang to face the risk of going bankrupt. This threat of bankruptcy is very real due to the mismanagement and abuses of power by the previous BN state government.
The present Penang state government has undergone the bitter and painful experience of paying RM 14.7 million(still unrecovered) for the Tang Hak Ju land scandal incurred by BN and another RM20 million to Boustead Holdings Bhd for reducing the height of their hotel in George Town to 5 storeys from the 12 storeys approved by BN.
If these payments are bad, the worst is yet to come. All this payouts are nothing compared to legal suits faced by our Pakatan Harapan government involving land scandals of huge proportions committed by the previous BN state government. The state government is now appealing at the higher courts and we are determined not to allow Penang to go bankrupt.
Consequences of Bankruptcy Unimaginable.
Imagine what would have happened if Penang goes bankrupt. Our Penang state Golden Programmes of RM100 yearly payouts to senior citizens, single mothers, disabled, primary school students and working mothers as well as RM200 for a new-born child will have to be discontinued. So too the RM1,000 one-off payments to university students, beneficiaries of senior citizens, single mothers and disabled. Not to forget the RM600 yearly payouts to taxi drivers, RM1,200 yearly to trishaw-riders and fishing nets to fishermen twice a year.
Even our poverty eradication programme of unconditional cash transfers under the Equitable Economic Agenda by ensuring every household will get RM790 monthly will have to be scrapped. This has helped Penang to record the lowest income inequality in the country, with our Gini coefficient dropping from 0.42 in 2009 to 0.37 in 2012, as compared to the national average of 0.41.
Our green efforts will also falter. We are proud to lead Malaysia in green initiatives, compliance with environmental safeguards and protection such as Detailed Environment Impact Assessment(DEIA) studies and no development above 250 feet as compared to the national height limit of 500 feet. Penang is the only state that practices “no free plastic bags”. Penang also ban polystyrene boxes and shark-fins served at government functions. Penang also have no-smoking areas, car free days, bicycle lanes and most important of all the highest recycling rate in Malaysia of 32% that far exceeds the national average of 12%. Bankruptcy will break our dreams of being the first green state in Malaysia.
And our annual allocations to vernacular and religious schools of RM12 million will also end, denying much needed allocation to these long-neglected schools that has seen improved facilities over the last 7 years for students. Finally our financial support for the German dual vocational training, where students are paid to study, will also end. As a result of our inclusive growth, Penang records the lowest unemployment rate of 1.7%. The state government is funding tuition fees for the German vocational training students, where the companies also pay them a monthly stipend of RM1,000.
Avoiding bankruptcy is therefore paramount if we are to continue with our objective of making Penang a sustainable welfare state. That is why we prefer to be condemned for avoiding bankruptcy. We govern the world as it is and try to improve on it and not govern the world as we wish it to be. A very good example is Udini roundabout, instead of tearing it down to relieve traffic congestion, we improved on it. This is how we run Penang, not tearing everything down but continuous improvement to maximize public interest.
Penang Does Not Need GST To Record Budget Surpluses, Why Not Malaysia?
Penang is our model for Malaysia – an entrepreneurial state with inclusive growth, sustainable development and welfare state. We have proven that we do not need the GST to find sources of revenue.
Penang recorded annual surpluses every year and our accumulated surpluses during the last 7 years from 2008-2014 amounting to RM503 million exceeded the RM 373 million accumulated over 50 years from 1957-2007. At the same time our debt has been reduced by 90% since 2008. Penang does not need GST to record budget surpluses, why not Malaysia?
Our country needs to be desperately rescued from the misrule and failed policies of BN. The present government has run out of ideas to move the country forward and is only focused on survival following the expose of the RM 42 billion 1MDB and RM 2.6 billion donation scandal. Our ringgit is still stuck at RM4.20-4.40 to 1US and the hated GST of 6% still remains because BN has run out of funds. Our federal government debt has ballooned by more than twice from RM266 billion at end of 2007 to RM800 billion now, including contingent liabilities.
The 1MDB scandal can never be resolved. Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad asked how the sale of 1MDB’s Edra Global Energy Bhd to China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) would reduce 1MDB’s debts between RM16 billion to RM18 billion.
According to Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua, 1MDB bought their power plants for RM12.1 billion in 2012. This purchase included inherited RM 8 billion of debt to be borne by 1MDB. 1MDB sold their power plants via Edra Global for RM9.83 billion, where the inherited debts of RM 8 billion is also borne by the Chinese buyer. In other words, this sale by 1MDB represents a RM 2.27 billion loss to 1MDB.
However that is not all. To finance the RM 12.1 billion purchase of Edra, 1MDB borrowed RM 22 billion. By selling Edra for RM 9.83 billion, there’s still RM 12 billion of debt left in 1MDB’s books without any more corresponding energy assets left in 1MDB. Can 1MDB or the Prime Minister explain where the RM12 billion go? Tun Dr Mahathir is right – how does the sale reduces 1MDB’s debt?
Whilst Penangites may be thankful that BN is not ruling Penang the way they are ruling Malaysia, we need to rescue our country and economy to give hope and a brighter future for your young.
DAP is celebrating our 50th anniversary next year. We survived this long because we are able to differentiate our friends from our enemies. Differentiate between principles which are permanent and friends who are not.
DAP is proud that we have never joined BN. Neither do we confuse our role as an opposition party to BN by wanting to become BN’s advisor. And yet there are some so confused as to how BN has played them out, cheated them and even oppressed their members and leaders mercilessly in past that they still yearn to be working together with UMNO and BN.
I wish to echo Sdr Chow’s call to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the party by paying tribute to all our party members and leaders, the past and the present for their sacrifices and never stop believing in the DAP. You have make us proud and together we shall work harder as one team to make you and the people of Penang hold your head up with dignity.
Whatever the challenges, we the present state leadership, government leaders in Penang, Parliament and state elected representatives believe that together we shall overcome and succeed in Penang and Malaysia, because of one important character of DAP – we are clean and not corrupt!
Hidup DAP, Hidup Pakatan Harapan, Hidup Rakyat!
LIM GUAN ENG