The complainant is Dr Lim Mah Hui who is also a member of board of directors of Penang Institute … yeah, that infamous think-tank chaired by Lim Guan Eng who appointed Zairil its CEO who made the 11th hour offer to Tunku Aziz who said it was a bribe and on which the MACC received a report from Parti Cinta Malaysia alleging that the institute engages in bribery.
Claiming that he is not a “BN bedfellow”, Lim – who is also a Majlis Perbandaran Pulau Pinang (MPPP) councillor – issued a statement to clarify his remarks reported in an NST article titled Penang Paradigm ‘is nothing new’ (22 Feb 2013).
I’ll break down the NST article (screenshot, bottom of page) into five component parts under bullet points for your easy reference.
Please tell me whether you think that Lim’s complaint is justified or whether Guan Eng’s kiasu-ism has rubbed off on him.
Penang Paradigm ‘is nothing new’
Part I: NST intro
[NST subheading] IMITATION: Refined version of BN blueprint
Penang Paradigm =
- to direct the state’s development agenda for the next decade
- refined version of its little known predecessor, the Penang Blueprint
Part II: Quoting Lim
According to NST, Lim said:
- Paradigm based on blueprint
- Paradigm more comprehensive than blueprint
- Paradigm improved version of blueprint
- Paradigm prepared after many long discussions
- Blueprint done in a rush
- Blueprint shelved by state government in April 2011
- Blueprint shelved to collaborate with Federal Government to prepare Greater Penang Transformation Programme
- Penang Paradigm and blueprint were “about the same thing”
The above is all that Lim is quoted to have said.
Part III: Paradigm & Blueprint
[NST editorial] Penang Paradigm =
- framework for making Penang “an international & intelligent city”
- will be released by state think-tank Penang Institute on Feb 23 (the day following the publication of NST article)
- Penang Institute wants public consultation to gather feedback
- feedback for helping improve report’s coverage, analysis and policy agenda
- report includes a diagnosis of why growth rates had slowed in recent years
- report includes recommended strategies to tackle the problem
- outlines measures such as [see screenshot below]
Part IV: Bridging paragraph
NST said: “As the earlier Penang Blueprint and its contents were largely unknown to the public, the new Penang Paradigm was regarded with sceptism by some quarters when news of its public consultation came about two week ago.”
Part V: Quoting Teng Chang Yeow
According to NST, Teng said:
- DAP-led government was “merely showing off the words ‘Penang Paradigm’”
- BN had revealed its plans for Penang (free port, financial & education hubs, monorail project)
- Pakatan had not informed Penangites of its plan even after ruling five years
- “They have only two words — Penang Paradigm”
The NST article is 354 words. The paragraphs relating to Lim total 98 words and the paragraphs relating to Teng, 80 words.
Okay now let’s look at the protest by Lim that NST is either mischievous or malicious as well as lacking professionalism.
The reporter Looi Sue-Chern had spoken to Lim “last week” (roughly Feb 17). She spoke with Teng on Feb 17.
(1) Article heading is misleading
(2) Reporter misquotes and takes him “substantially out of context”
“I told her that the Blueprint which sets out the development agenda and priorities for the state was completed a couple of years ago but shelved to accommodate the Federal’s government request to work together for a greater Penang development plan.”
Please cross refer bullet point above. The reporter did not deviate from Lim’s meaning.
- State government waited a year for federal government to get back on developemnt agenda but no news
- Hence state government launched Penang Paradigm
- Paradigm builds upon the basics of blueprint
- Paradigm more comprehensive, analytical, participatory
- Input sought through workshops
- Website launched on Feb 23 allowing for further feedback
“This is a far cry from the policies and methods of the Barisan Nasional.”
I don’t see how Lim’s present clarification deviates from what was said in the NST report. You can make the comparisons yourself.
The only point of contention that I can see is the bit where the NST article stated: “Dr Lim, who was formerly an international banker, said the Penang Paradigm and the blueprint were “about the same thing”.
Were the words within quotation marks uttered by him verbatim? Or is Lim claiming he did not say those four words “about the same thing”? Or is he saying “about the same thing” was quoted out of context?
How would you interpret the phrase “about the same thing”? The blueprint and Paradigm are both about a Penang development agenda (i.e. same subject) and hence the headline “nothing new” which Lim objects to as being “misleading”.
His clarification does nothing to shed light even though he says he wished “to set the record straight”. Which part of the record is crooked?
(A) Do you think the NST heading “Penang Paradigm ‘is nothing new’” is misleading?
(B) Do you think the reporter misquoted Lim?
(C) Do you think the reporter took him “substantially out of context”?
Let’s see what other things Lim is unhappy about.
(1) Doesn’t want to sit in same column inches as Teng Chang Yeow
“[J]uxtaposing what I said with what Teng Chang Yeow said (the Penang state government’s vision is just two words, i.e., Penang Paradigm) makes me seem like a bedfellow with the Barisan Nasional”
Teng has his individual opinion, Lim has his. They differ. NST put both opinions side by side in the same copy. So what?
Even if Teng sounds dismissive of the Penang Paradigm, again so what? If Lim’s comments sound like they’ve got substance whereas what Teng says sounds like merely baiting the DAP-led government, then juxtaposing both opinions will actually make Lim look good in comparison.
But Lim instead fears that appearing in the same article as Teng will somehow make him look (in the eyes of NST readers) like a BN bedfellow.
(2) Objects to date of publication
Lim claims that for NST to “publish the article just one day before the official launch of the Penang Paradigm seems mischievous at best and malicious at worst”.
The reporter spoke to Teng on Sunday (and presumably to Lim on the same day as well).
Let’s give Ms Looi one day’s grace (Monday) to write the story. So her article could have been published either on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. It was published on Friday. The Paradigm launch was Saturday.
If you were the NST editor, when would you have chosen to publish Ms Looi’s article — Tues, Wed, Thurs, Fri or Sat? Is it fair to accuse you [the editor] of being unprofessional, mischievous or malicious for the sin of failing to publish the article between Tues-Thurs.?
MPPP approved RM300m sPICE
Dr Lim Mah Hui is the councillor who closed one eye to the RM300 million sPICE project bulldozed through by Lim Guan Eng.
(sPICE is subterranean Penang International Convention and Exhibition Centre, “exclusive club for the rich”)
Below is what Penang Gerakan legal and human rights bureau chief Baljit Singh said about the sPICE agreement:
- agreement proper can only be viewed by appointment at municipality office
- viewer allotted only two hours to peruse the documents
- making photocopies and taking snapshots are not allowed
- only allowed to write down notes within the allotted time
- where’s the CAT?
Below is what former MPPP councillor Lim Boo Chang said about sPICE:
- State government had ‘misused’ the Section 9(1) of the Local Government Act to issue a directive to the MPPP to rubber stamp the project
- Councillors only agreed in principle to the sPICE project in December 2010 but never deliberated or approved the contract details when it was signed between MPPP and sPICE developer Eco-Meridian Sdn Bhd (EMSB), a subsidiary of SP Setia Bhd
- Councillors asked for a copy of the contract draft during a meeting held five days before the contract signing on Aug 19, 2011 but until 14 Dec 2011 had yet to be provided any documentation
- MPPP would invest RM50 million but gets nothing in return
- The developer would pocket a net RM100 million profit during lease period, according to another councillor
Guan Eng’s interference
Lim Boo Chang objected to sPICE during the tabling of MPPP’s Budget 2012 and subsequently resigned as MPPP councillor.
Lim Mah Hui has remained an MPPP councillor and is a board director of the Penang Institute.
Lim Mah Hui in his statement yesterday claimed that the Penang state government’s openness to public feedback “is a far cry from the policies and methods of the Barisan Nasional.”
Lim Boo Chang told reporters on 15 Dec 2011 said the MPPP should be autonomous but “the current state government is bent on interfering in the workings of the council”.
He further said that the interference was rampant and that such interference “never happened even under BN”.
Lim also revealed that Lim Guan Eng had used arm-twisting tactics to intimidate councillors, including him, for opposing sPICE.
He added the state government had also issued directives to the council to officially inform respective Pakatan state elected representatives before carrying out enforcement duties in a constituency.
Mah Hui stayed, Boo Chang quit
It appears that the two Lims – one still serving as MPPP councillor while the other had resigned – are saying completely opposite things about how the Penang government under Lim Guan Eng operates.
Lim Mah Hui has kicked up a big fuss over the small NST report where he was quoted saying some 70-plus words.
On the other hand, Lim Mah Hui has nothing to say about the sPICE project regarding which his ex-colleague Lim Boo Chang has claimed “Penang govt bullying municipal council” — FMT headline, 15 Dec 2011.
Say what again?
Lim Mah Hui has nothing to say about the sPICE project that his ex-colleague Lim Boo Chang accused the state government of bulldozing through.
Lim Mah Hui has nothing to say about the sPICE contract which his ex-colleague Lim Boo Chang claims allows SP Setia to build 450 low cost houses on the free land and pocket all the proceeds from the sales.
Lim Mah Hui has nothing to say about the sPICE contract which his ex-colleague Lim Boo Chang claims allows the developer also to build an extra 1,500 houses each in the various projects it would undertake in Penang island and again pocket all the proceeds.
Lim Mah Hui has nothing to say about the development charges and quit rent to be waived for the sPICE project nor about the RM50 million budget (2012-2013) to be provided by the MPPP in stages for the project.
Lim Mah Hui is still a councillor with the MPPP and with the Penang Institute enjoying the perks of office [in an organization whose offer] Tunku Aziz turned down.
Yesterday, Lim Mah Hui issued a statement complaining about an NST reporter purportedly making him “seem like a bedfellow with the Barisan Nasional”. No lah, Lim Mah Hui. Who would think you look like a BN bedfellow?
Actually it seems like you’re a Lim Guan Eng bedfellow.