Let Penang be a beacon of hope for Malaysia
Lim Guan Eng
PENANG - As we celebrate our 53rd Merdeka, the country appears more divided than ever by racial, religious and even personal hatred. Fomenting racial and religious intolerance and hatred is now the rule rather than the exception.
The biggest challenge is whether Malaysians can rise above the language of violence used by extremists and fulfil our destiny of Merdeka 53 years ago of a shared society belonging to all and promising prosperity to everyone. Penang is under constant siege and attack by extremists and political foes from BN and Umno who use lies to create tension and division.
Pearl of the Orient
Amongst the lies still used is that the Penang state government has banned the Maulidur Rasul procession, banned Pasar Ramadan, replaced the YDP Agong’s name in Friday sermons with the Chief Minister’s name, only evict Malay villagers and traders. Up till today, the state government has not evicted a single Malay or non-Malay household and when enforcement action is taken against traders, only 30 per cent is Malay. Even when eviction is done by private landowners, the state government has also intervened to negotiate a settlement.
It is because our opponents are bankrupt of ideas that they resort to race and religion. Race and religious hatred is the final weapon of the extremists who can not win any debate based on facts and logic or find any weaknesses in PR’s performance.
Say No to Graft
Their desperation can be shown when the Penang PR government can not be faulted for being corrupt, abuse of power or wasting public funds. None of PR leaders have become rich or own luxury homes. We lived in a moderate lifestyle and travel by economy air wherever we can.
PR has reduced corruption with our CAT governance of Competency, Accountability and Transparency by turning around a projected deficit of RM35 million in 2008 to a record surplus of RM88 million. This was repeated again in 2009 by turning around a projected deficit of RM40 million to a surplus of RM77 million. For the first time in history, Transparency International praised Penang’s CAT governance for fighting corruption.
An early initiative by the Guan Eng administration
That is why the state government can afford its senior citizens appreciation programme of annual payout of RM100 to all over 60 years and RM1,000 one-off to beneficiaries of senior citizens which costs nearly RM20 million. That is why the state government can give RM100 water rebate in 2008 to all poor and middle-income households costing nearly RM 20 million. That is why the state government can give money annually to partially-assisted schools of RM 11.3 million. That is why the state government can double the allocation for Islamic affairs to RM 24.3 million in 2010 as compared to RM 13.5 million under BN in 2008.
All these successes in implementing a people-centric government have made our political opponents desperate. They become more desperate when Penang became the first state to ban sports betting(judi bola) after the Federal government issued the licence. Due to Penang’s lead, the Federal government had no choice but to cancel the judi bola licence. Certainly many BN and UMNO leaders must be angered by the cancellation of the judi bola licence because of loss of revenue of hundreds of millions of ringgit.
Penang will forge ahead in establishing the first people’s government in Malaysia that listens to the people, do the people’s work and give hope to the people. We will also remain steadfast in barring sports betting in the state as this is the common aspirations of 1.5 million Penangites regardless of race.
Let Penang be a beacon of hope for Merdeka, democracy, integrity, public morality and a people’s government as well as a symbol of national unity where Penangites live together in harmony and mutual respect.