Lim Guan Eng has some problems on his hands in Penang...and things are only getting worse. (Photo by Hussein Shaharuddin/The Mole)
The past month has not been good for Lim Guan Eng, who had been riding high after projecting himself as a clean, transparent and people-centric leader.
All of a sudden, this image has been shattered and Lim has found himself being asked all sorts of questions concerning his credibility; word has it that he is absolutely livid.
He is furiously seeking to get back at those who have had the audacity to openly criticise him and the threats are being issued at a faster than normal rate, with his favourite whipping boys – Umno and the so-called ‘Umno-controlled media’ – receiving the brunt of his rage.
In the past few weeks, the DAP secretary-general has been accused of letting Penang fall under the control of mafia developers who are brazenly plundering the last of the green lungs on the island and snapping up every available plot of land.
On top of that, he has also been bombarded with never ending questions about the RM1.07 billion Bayan Mutiara land deal, which is fast turning into a major headache for the DAP similar to what the Penang Global City Centre (PGCC) project was for the Koh Tsu Koon administration.
Lim has been given various ultimatums to clarify queries on the controversial sale of the state-owned land to Ivory Properties Group Bhd (IPGB), including questions about affordable housing and the status of a mosque which was supposed to be built in the area.
A blogger has now posed another pertinent question on how the state government has allowed IPGB – which was the successful bidder for the Bayan Mutiara project – to end up becoming a minority shareholder in Tropicana Ivory Sdn Bhd (TISB).
The full story can be read here.
Lim has now claimed in an interview with an opposition-linked news portal that one out of three properties built in Bayan Mutiara must be low- to medium-cost, priced at between RM72,500 and RM220,000.
“No exemption. They are required to build 30 per cent on the island, not mainland. Of course, they can build outside Bayan Mutiara, but they have to find land, so it will most probably be there,” the DAP secretary-general said.
However, his statement only adds to the confusion as the developer involved in the project has only announced that 15 per cent of the 800 to 1,000 high-rise units for the first phase will be priced between RM300,000 and RM500,000, depending on the built-up area which ranged between 600 sq ft and 800 sq ft.
Subsequent phases will also see 15 per cent of the properties priced in the ‘affordable range’ of between RM300,000 and RM500,000.
The developer is saying that they will build units costing RM300k to RM500k which is not affordable for most Penangites.
The question is where are the units below RM220k that Lim is talking about? It is obvious Lim is trying to fool the people yet again.
Is he prepared to resign if the developer does not build 30 per cent units priced below RM220k.?
Apart from the Bayan Mutiara issue, Lim has also been forced to deal with the never-ending drama involving his deputy, Prof P Ramasamy.
There was a protest gathering by a group aligned to Ramasamy at Komtar on Friday, calling for Lim to restrain Karpal Singh from interfering in the affairs of the state Hindu Endownment Board.
The group also demanded Seri Delima and Bagan Dalam assemblymen RSN Rayer and A Thanasekaran be dismissed from any future appointment to the board.
To counter the demand, another group turned up at the new state DAP headquarters on Jalan Rangoon on Sunday to show their support for various party leaders, with the exception of Ramasamy.
The way things are unfolding in the state DAP, it looks like Lim may well end up not only having to deflect attacks on his credibility as a transparent leader but also having to manage an internal squabble from escalating into a full-blown storm.
Hush Hush is our Mole in Penang.