Thursday, August 21, 2008

Lim-Koh Debate: My Verdict

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


Anonymous said...

now we are wondering, is it anwar or the pek moh who asked him to go easy with business focus.

thought he was a gentlement when he went up to congratulate guan eng after the result of the ge.... phew! the very same time thoroughly cleaned up the cm office.

and, he was a very weak cm, probably been henpecked by keng yaik throughout his terms as cm.

toolan said...

You took the very words out of my mouth! That is precisely what KSK did not do and what we saw last night is a great display of "tai chi" by him(KSK).
You are right, after watching him last night(as I have never seen KSK in action before), he is totally "diehard" for BN/UMNO, even the rest of the whole knows is wrong.
I am from KL but just judging from blogs I visit which belongs to Penangites, I already can sense how much displeasure Penangites have for KSK but yet he seem oblivious to this. I think Pak Lah's syndrome is really rubbing off on him so much so he is charging blindly for the wrong cause.

romerz said...

Sorry Mr Khoo, I have to disagree with you here.

I'm too lazy and its too late in the night to write another lengthy reasoning so instead I'll reproduce here a reply I gave in another blog on the debate.

Dear petestop,

Let me try to explain my views from my understanding of the context which brought about this debate.

Soon after taking office, LGE started making media declarations of land scams, missing files, etc. and at the same time complaining that KTK refuses to meet with him to explain.

Isn’t this politicking and playing to the crowd when he could have just called and waited for KTK’s response before going to the press? Much like Chia Kwang Chye’s ‘friendly advice’ in the press to Dr Toh? A political message was the intention rather than real desire to communicate is what I think.

Then the debate itself. From my perspective, i thought that the debate with its narrow title gave LGE every opportunity to ‘pin’ KTK to the wall but he didn’t do that. Instead LGE kept on harping on why no actions other than a warning was given to the civil servant.

I’m guessing here that the civil servant in question is a Malay so to me LGE was asking questioning KTK’s inability to act against a supposedly an UMNO backed Malay civil servant.

This to me is more politicking and not seeking the desired answers as LGE claims. It is a political attack at KTK’s reluctance to stand up against UMNO.

On this I agree with you that KTK failed Penangites for not standing up against UMNO, which is what most of us had hoped he would do.

But from the context of the debate and the declared desire of LGE to obtain the truth, he failed miserably.

Had the topic been “Were you really running the Penang government or an unseen UMNO hand is doing it behind you?” then I would conclude that LGE won.

But in the context of the ‘land scams’ I thought LGE painted to many a picture of still being in the ‘opposition’ mindset and KTK deflected his attacks with a manner associated with a statesman.

So since this debate took place on the premise of the topic, LGE lost and KTK won was my conclusion.

That doesn’t mean that I hero worship KTK nor do I ridicule LGE.

In fact I have already told KTK, my old friend of 22 years, that I will be opposing him in my blog (via an email 3 days ago) for his reluctance to leave the BN.

But I must also be fair and give credit where it is due.

Both men have their faults but I found your inability to recognize this disturbing for your hatred of UMNO is so strong that it prevents you from seeing things for what they are rather than what you wish it to be.

I also wish for UMNO’s demise and Lee Chong Wei to win but the fact is KTK won the debate based on the topic and Lee Chong Wei let nerves get the better of him (not withstanding that Lin Dan played a flawless match).

Khoo Kay Peng said...


You said KTK won the debate which I respect your own verdict. I have mine and I have expressed this very clearly. I did not think there was a winner.

However, I am not interested to find out who is better at debating.

I want to get to the bottom of the cases. I have explained why Koh failed to explain to us the inconsistencies found in the two cases e.g. Business Focus and PGCC.

The topic, like you mentioned, is not to the advantage of Koh but the fact that he accepted to debate showed that he was prepared to bare all with all sincerity.

I hope you will observe sensitivity in your last para. I do not like nor support UMNO but I did not allow my dislike for them to cloud my analysis.

If you disagree with me, it will be better for you to point out to me clearly the parts. We do not need to sweep off the entire plates on the table to find a fish bone.

So far, the only disagreement I found is on who is the winner. You said KTK, fine. Good on you.

Khoo Kay Peng said...


Another note: So you do not think Koh's subordination to UMNO is a problem here? Clearly from both the Business Focus and PGCC cases, he appeared to have taken directive from the top (UMNO).

Why focus on what or how Lim Guan Eng performed in the debate? If you do so, you have missed the issue - land scams/possible corruption.

I do not care much who is the better debater. This is explained in my post. Lim is still the more sincere of the two.

Wizzerd said...

My take is that KTK won by a slim margin based on his rebuttal and oratory skills, assisted by his strong command of the Malay language.
LGE did a surprisingly good job as well in expressing himself and his witty remarks at the end. In terms of sincerity, honesty and forthrightness, he won hands down

But the purpose of this debate is not to judge the winner a la some high school debate. The purpose is to find the truth behind the land scams.

One thing I am sure of is KTK will not concede an inch that he is powerless to prevent this scandal from happening.

1) He will be perceived as a puppet CM
2) UMNO is actually the hidden hands behind the scam

So...what he had to do is to deflect, blame and justify with some clever play of words.

Outcome of the debatte: Are we any wiser?? Zilch

But it did give LGE some form of I would say positive publicity which is sorely lacking.

romerz said...

Dear Mr Khoo,

Oh dear, you misunderstood me. My last 2 paragraphs were not directed at you but instead a reply to a certain petestop in Lim Si Pin's blog on his claim that LGE won the debate hands down.

By the way I also mentioned in para 4 from bottom that I oppose KTK for not leaving the BN and standing up to UMNO.

Maybe I shouldn't have reproduced that comment in full here for now you have misconstrued my intentions.

For this I'm sorry. I was merely trying to point out from the context of a debate and the title that KTK won since LGE had every opportunity to really pin KTK down but let that chance slip.

I'm also in agreement with you on KTK's failings.

I hope I've not pissed you off.