GEORGE TOWN: Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng has “frozen” the disbursement of a special quarterly RM50,000 “outright grant” to every state assembly representative who failed to show up at the governor’s swearing-in ceremony on April 29.
He said those who did not attend will now be asked to explain why they were absent and what they intend to do with the RM50,000 in detail before it was given to them.
He said they must submit a written explanation to his office about their absence and what they intend to do with the money. Then only the money will be handed out.
Lim said normally, all reps were given the RM50,000 quarterly without many questions being asked.
“If you ask me, this is a light rap on their fingers. We are only putting their allocations on hold for one quarter,” Lim said.
“As for Umno reps, they are not bothered if they get their allocations or not.”
He also lashed out at PKR’s Penanti assemblywoman Dr Norlela Ariffin and others who did not attend, including some from DAP, PKR and Umno.
On May 14, Norlela claimed in a Facebook posting that her “allocation was frozen” as she did not attend the ceremony where Abdul Rahman Abbas was sworn in for a fourth term as governor.
Explaining that she could not be present as she was at the Penang PKR convention at the time, Norlela launched a fundraising campaign of her own to finance community projects in her constituency.
The posting has since been removed from her Facebook account.
The PKR convention began at 2.30pm at the Seberang Perai Arena on mainland Penang while the swearing-in ceremony took place at 4.30pm at Sri Mutiara, the governor’s official residence on Jalan Utama on the island.
Lim clarified the allocations were not “frozen” as asserted by Norlela but the state government was just putting an “extra stop” before the money was given.
Asked how many did not attend, Lim refused to specify, saying he did not want to “embarrass” them.
“How can you not attend TYT’s (Tuan Yang Terutama) swearing-in?
“Are you going to tell me that your function is more important than the swearing-in of Penang’s head of state?” he said at a press conference at his office in Komtar here today.
“Must I remind you that you are a government assemblyperson?”
Accusing them of being disrespectful, he said: “It is our TYT, you know. Have some respect. For heaven’s sake, Kak Wan (PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail) can come, why you cannot come?
“No apologies for that. If you are a government assemblywoman and you do not see the importance of attending the swearing-in, then something is very wrong with you.”
He also claimed that the freeze would not affect projects meant for the people.
Rahman, 79, became the state’s seventh governor, or Yang diPertua Negeri as it is officially known, in 2001. The governorship is renewable every four years.
Deputy Chief Minister I Mohd Rashid Hasnon, who is PKR’s Pantai Jerejak assemblyman, said the decision to freeze the grants for the third quarter of this year was approved at a recent state executive council meeting.
He said those who offered a proper explanation would receive their allocation after due consideration by the chief minister’s office.
He explained that the “outright grant” of RM200,000 yearly for each assemblyperson was paid every three months.
Rashid said other allocations, such as the regular RM300,000 for each state representative, would not be affected.
“The first two quarters have been paid out to the absentees. It is just the third quarter we are talking about here,” he said.