First, I would like to congratulate both debaters for their willingness to participate in a public debate. Viewers and live audience, like myself, should not expect that this debate will throw us any light into the alleged land scams.
My verdict is there was no clear winner. We did not go away more enlightened of what had happened to Penang land privatisation.
But I have a few questions for Dr Koh. In the Business Focus case, which involved Arif Shah's brother, Koh alleged that he acted on the instruction of Anwar Ibrahim not to take action against the company in March 1998. Anwar has denied the allegation.
Assuming that Anwar did instruct him not to act, why did Koh take the instruction blindly? Didn't he claim that Gerakan will not follow BN blindly? As a state leader, Koh should not take any instruction blindly from the higher up if he felt that it was against the interest of the state.
Koh claimed last night that Penang, under his administration, had 99.9% accuracy in land management. I salute him for this record. But if the 0.1% discrepancy was caused by blind subordination, then I am worried for the future of Gerakan under him.
After 1998, when Anwar was booted out of cabinet and jailed, why didn't Koh conduct a review on Business Focus' ability to repay the debt? If he claimed that his administration system was world class, I am sure it will prompt for a review of all pending cases such as this one. He did nothing for the next 10 years until booted out in March 2008. Is this world class?
What Koh did last night was merely to deny, defend and deflect the actual weaknesses of his administration.
I have another example, the PGCC. If there is a system and proper procedures, why did Koh helped to launch a project which was never given any form of approval from the state technical department or the local authority? Again, instruction from higher up - the Prime Minister?
Koh's admission is creepy. He is a stooge of UMNO and his blinded loyalty to the higher up is his main weakness. For goodness sake, leaders like Chia Kwang Chye should just take on Koh at the next party's elections instead of wasting his time trying to strike a deal with Koh to support him as a chairman in Penang. Otherwise, some others should take both of them on at the party polls in October. Gerakan, a respected opposition party in the late 60's, deserves better than these leaders.
PGCC, under Abad Naluri Sdn Bhd, was a clever corporate play. The business collateral for the Turf Club deal was a piece of land (1000 acres) in Batu Kawan. PDC was supposed to sell the land to Abad Naluri for RM48 million. Again, the deal was never approved and yet the promise to Turf Club to build an alternative race course was already inked.
Why didn't Koh stick to his world class administration system and advice the Prime Minister and those involved in the project to be patient and wait for approvals before launching the project?
I had asked Koh categorically, when he sent me back to my hotel after the MSC conference in Penang late last year, who put him up there - the people or UMNO. His answer was clear. Your guess is as good as mine.
I am deeply not impressed by Koh's answers although he is a good orator. As a Penangite, I want to take him to task for his stubborn denial syndrome.
Unfortunately, Lim did not do as well too. Lim, although is sincere in wanting to 'korek, korek, korek' (dig out) all scams, did not ask the right questions. Like Koh said, shoot before he aims. This way he wasted the opportunity given to him by the live debate to get down to business.
Lim should quickly catch up if he wants to become an effective chief minister. All said and done now, I hope to hear some clear socio-economic plans and direction from Lim. But knowing Guan Eng for a number of years, I know he is sincere in wanting to make Penang a better place. With this sincerity alone, all of us should lend him our support and cooperation. Guan Eng is only a man. Together with us, we can make it an effective team.
Yes, the honeymoon is over. But I still support Guan Eng as a better man between the two to lead Penang at the moment.
Picture courtesy of Malaysiakini.com