GEORGETOWN, Nov 29 – Penang is a place for the honest and the hardworking, regardless of their race, said Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, rebutting claims made at the ongoing Umno general assembly that Chinese wealth in the state was due to ill-gotten gains. “Don’t just make baseless allegations that hurt the feelings of the people.
Couldn’t they (at the Umno general assembly) discuss more important problems like bread and butter issues affecting the people and fighting corruption?” Even hawkers and traders in the state have gained national recognition for their cleanliness and hard work, Lim said at an event with university students in George Town.
He cited the success story of the Bukit Gedung food court, which recently won first prize in a national contest for food courts, as an example. He said the state spent RM1.5 million on the food court in Bayan Baru for the benefit of Malay traders, so they could earn their living. “The traders there worked so hard. They kept the premises clean. Today, the business at the food court is one of the best in Penang. Of course the food there is very good too.
“This shows that a person who is clean, honest and hardworking can be successful in Penang. This is a value we want to share,” Lim said. “But of course when we read the newspapers, it would seem that what we (the Pakatan Rakyat government) do in Penang is wrong. What they report is negative news about the state government. Even this aid programme for students may go unreported.
He said if detractors wanted to attack him, they could go ahead, but they should leave the people alone. “You want to slam Lim Guan Eng, fine. Don’t mess with the people who work hard and make an honest living in the state.” Lim said the state government had been attacked by various slanderous and unfair accusations over the last few days by Umno delegates at the party’s general assembly.
Apart from accusing him and the state government of buying and selling off Malay land in Balik Pulau in an attempt to chase out Malays from the island, Umno delegates had also alleged the Chinese of getting rich and influential from illegal activities. Yesterday, Permatang Pauh Umno Division chairman Datuk Mohd Zaidi Mohd Said told delegates that the Chinese made a lot of money and gained power by being involved in illicit economic activities such as illegal gambling, prostitution and entertainment outlets.
Zaidi said such activities flourished because the Malays were mild-mannered and the relevant authorities were turning a blind eye to them, otherwise the Chinese would fear and respect the Malays. Lim said even the police had denied the claim about the illegal activities, and if Umno could prove it, Penang would certainly ask the Inspector-General of Police to send more personnel to the state.
He said the state and its people must set the record straight because if such slander was allowed to be spread and uncountered, the negative perception would ruin the peace and harmony enjoyed by society. He said the people in Penang knew what was true and false, and encouraged the students at the ceremony to act as “small ambassadors” for state and to tell their friends what was really happening.
“People in Penang know what is going on, but those outside do not. We have to let them see the true picture,” he said. The ceremony was for the Penang government to disburse RM1,000 each in aid to students from working-class families, which Lim said was not a huge amount, but still the largest given by any state in the country.
“No other state gives RM1,000 to all students from families with income under RM6,000 a month, who make it to university, but Penang. This is proof we keep our promises to the people. “This also shows how much we stress on education and enhancing our human capital, which is the core of our state’s economic development,” he said.
Lim said the state hoped that the students would return to Penang to work after they have completed their studies. He said the state government was looking into ways to increase job opportunities, especially high-income jobs, by bringing in new investments and reinvestments while attracting talents at the same time.