PETALING JAYA: Lim Guan Eng has criticised Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Abdul Rahman Dahlan for not being truthful in the latter’s accusation that the Penang government had federal help in reducing its debt.
The Penang chief minister revealed that the water restructuring deal signed in 2011, which Rahman was referring to in a statement on Monday, was for debt that the current government had inherited from the previous Barisan Nasional state government.
“So envious is Rahman of Penang, that he asked the Penang state government to cancel the water restructuring deal that we signed in 2011.
“Rahman claimed that the debt reduction was made possible only by the federal government converting the RM655.24 million of water debts to 45 annual lease payments of RM14.56 million by Perbadanan Bekalan Air Pulau Pinang (PBAPP),” Lim said in a statement today.
However, the DAP secretary-general said it is the information that was omitted from the Umno leader’s statement that reflects the “desperately jealous” nature of Rahman.
“He forgets five important points that he deliberately left out and did not mention,” Lim said before listing out the information, as follows:
1. The water debts were incurred by the previous BN state government. Hence, it is only fair to return those water debts to the BN federal government.
2. The water restructuring deal involved a surrender of state rights by the state governments under BN based on an amendment to the Federal Constitution made in 2005, when the state was still under the BN.
3. The debts taken over by the federal government was not for free, but in exchange for water assets surrendered by PBAPP, and now owned by the federal government.
4. The water restructuring deal, taking over of water debts and surrender of assets was not peculiar to Penang but also applied to all other states.
5. The Penang state government is the only state that did not have any outstanding debt payment arrears according to the recently released 2016 Auditor-General’s Report.
Lim then chided the BN strategic communications director for trying to claim credit for the federal government over the Penang state government’s remarkable success in being the only state in Malaysia to reduce its debt until it had zero outstanding debt payment arrears.
“Rahman is unfit to be a federal minister not only because he previously chickened out of his own challenge to debate with me, but now has shown to be so desperately jealous of the Penang state government’s sterling financial performance,” Lim said.
The Bagan MP reminded Rahman that the PBAPP had also paid on time and in full all the annual lease payments.
“The state government and PBAPP had no help from the federal government when all debt repayments were made on time, clearly proving that unlike other states we had the money to do so because we were well-managed with record annual surpluses since 2008.”
Lim also challenged Rahman to get the federal government to cancel the water restructuring deals for all states, return the water assets taken by the federal government back to the states, and undo the 2005 Federal Constitutional amendment and return back the power of “water supplies and services” back to the State List.
“He should not behave childishly and throw a tantrum out of sheer political jealousy, to ask us to cancel the water restructuring deal unless he is willing to guarantee the federal government walks back on the five points mentioned above,” he said.