GEORGE TOWN: The Penang Government has not settled dues owed to a Chinese clan which helped it organise a Chinese New Year celebration here earlier this year, a MCA leader has claimed.
Komtar MCA Special Task Force Head Tan Hing Teik said the Penang Government pledged RM80,000 to organise the event but still owed RM70,000 to the Penang Chinese Clan Council.
He said this was unacceptable.
He said the Penang Government had only paid “12.5%, or RM10,000” of what it owed to the clan council to date.
“The clan council chairman, Dr Chang Wei Lu, told me that over the years, it had not lost money when it helped organise such events.”
Tan questioned the delay in the payment and also wondered if there was any graft involved.
Prior to Chinese New Year celebrations on Feb 8, the Chinese clansmen were unhappy with the Penang Government over its plans to hold state celebrations at the clan’s jetty for the first time.
This was after the state government decided to hold a Cultural and Heritage Festival at the same location where the Jade Emperor Birthday festivities were usually held.
Clansmen viewed the move as rude as it appeared to interrupt their century-long celebration. This year’s celebration was their 109th.
Unhappy residents from the jetty rallied and protested against the move.
Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng was reported however to have defended the decision, saying it would be held on state government land.
A spokesperson from the jetty was reported as saying it did not want to “muddy” relations with the state government, but hoped a few matters could be resolved.
It was learnt that among the unresolved issues was an illegal car park built at the Chew Jetty, which was subsequently demolished in 2014.
The clansmen said pleas to the city council went unheard despite the clan having spent some RM400,000 on the car park.
Lim had reportedly said the car park had to be torn down as it could affect George Town’s World Heritage Site status.
Since the demolition of the car park, the jetty, for the first time in many years, did not invite Lim to the Jade Emperor’s Celebration last year.
Instead, Penang Barisan Nasional Chairman Teng Chang Yeow and the then state MCA Penang chairman, Chew Mei Fun, were invited.
Teng and Chew donated a total of RM50,000 towards the jetty.
When Malaysiakini contacted the Penang Chinese New Year Celebration 2016 Committee head and DAP’s Tanjung MP Ng Wei Aik for comment, he said it was a “waste of time.”
However, the news portal reported that during a press conference yesterday, Ng said the remaining RM70,000 would be paid as promised.
“If the state government cannot help, I will find my own way to honour the promise,” he was quoted as saying in the Chinese media, the portal added.
Ng said the organising committee failed to deliver the full allocation due to difficulties in obtaining sponsors.
“Futhermore, the Chinese New Year Celebration 2016 event went over-budget,” Ng was quoted as saying in Chinese daily Kwong Wah Jit Poh yesterday, the portal said.