from: Kong Len Wei, via email
Among the many topics of conversation throughout the Hari Raya celebrations, the one about the embattled Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng stood out as a firm favourite.
Having been charged in court for corruption on June 30, it is no surprise that everyone is wondering if he will stay or will he take a leave of absence while facing his corruption charges.
The casual conversations with my group of young professionals yielded differing opinions.
Some questioned the Chief Minister for suddenly buying his place of residence after so many years of renting. Another, a property agent remarked that the RM5,000 rent paid for so many years was really cheap. At that rate, he should have just continued renting the bungalow as it made more sense.
A conveyancing lawyer thought that the price in the Sale & Purchase Agreement was grossly undervalued compared with that adjudicated. With such a marked difference, it was strange that Guan Eng did not make an effort to file an objection to contest the stamp duty within 30 days.
The contractor lamented that the cost of construction has gone up over the years. It is just not possible to renovate a bungalow of that size for a few hundred thousand ringgit.
Finally the property developer broke his silence. He heaved a sigh of relief as he related how a broker brought a deal to him to jointly develop serviced apartments on a one-acre piece of land in the heart of George Town. Fortunately, he and his shareholders turned the deal down. We all had a good laugh at him dodging a bullet from that failed deal.
While everyone had their personal opinions of the charges brought against the Chief Minister, the general consensus was that he should not have bought the bungalow in the first place. Even if favours were dished out and special dispensations were given to Ms. Phang Li Khoon and her company, all that he needed to do was make a simple declaration that he is renting a property from Ms Phang and recuse himself from all related proceedings.
Unfortunately, by buying the bungalow cheaply from Ms Phang and subsequently transferring the asset in his name, a new dimension was added to the case. It is a vital link that is almost impossible to erase.
Whether or not Guan Eng misused his position as the Chief Minister of Penang in the deals with Ms. Phang Li Khoon is not for us to judge. Investigations were carried out by the police and MACC. Any evidence collected will be used in the prosecution by the Attorney-General.
As the case unfolds in the courts, it may be months or even years before we reach any finality to such a high profile case.
Until such time, it is not legally required for the Chief Minister who is democratically elected by the people to step down. However, it is questionable how long he can continue to fight the corruption charges in court while at the same time try to govern Penang effectively.
It is also interesting, almost entertaining, to see all the DAP’s 37 MPs and 99 Assemblymen rally around their dear leader, not a single one of them casting an iota of doubt on his innocence. It makes us wonder about the calibre of these representatives, that they would sacrifice their conscience to defend one man.
By supporting his actions, the DAP opens up the possibility of every Menteri Besar from Perlis to Sabah being able to legally obtain undervalued real property in exchange for favours and land deals. Is the DAP now advocating legalising corruption?
With the general election looming, I urge YB Lim Guan Eng not to resign. I want to see how the Chief Minister of Penang, the paragon of virtue that he is, will campaign on DAP’s anti-corruption platform as he ironically faces his own corruption charges.
Never in the history of our nation have so many DAP MPs and Assemblymen been willing to put their political careers on the line for one person’s mistake.
Kong Len Wei is a Manjung municipal councillor and chairman of Perak MCA Youth’s Young Professionals Bureau
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