By: Choo Sing Chye
I am pleased to hear that the Penang Pakatan Rakyat state executive council had decided to set up a high powered executive committee to probe into the sale of some 4,000 acres of prime land made under the Barisan Nasional administration to be headed by you.
This, I hope would provide an accurate account of what actually went on during the long BN’s tenure of the Penang State Government.
But anyway, I wondered if you would take a second look at one scandal happened 18 years ago. And without doubt, this scandal would have made good Hollywood script.
During my work-visit to Penang in 1994 with the late P. Patto, to help out with the first Suara Tanjung 3 issue, I wrote the front page article, RM300,000 For Top BN Politician which was at that time the hottest corruption scandal in Penang.
RM300,000 for Top BN Politician
DAP Assemblyman for Datuk Keramat, K. Balasundram, caused a stir in the recent Penang State Assembly meeting on 1st June 1994 when he touched on an alleged RM300.000 armed robbery carried out by an office-boy-cum-director of a company said to be owned by a former Penang tycoon, an undischarged bankrupt.
This sum of money was meant as a pay-off for a top Barisan Nasional government politician in the Penang State Government..
Revealing further the mystery surrounding this armed robbery, Balasundram said that the robbery itself was only reported to the police six days later on 26th May. Apparently, the victim was prevented from making any police report on the robbery.
At this point, the Speaker of the Penang State Assembly, Dato' Abdul Rahman Abbas, knowing what Balasundram was driving at, tried to prevent him from speaking further on the matter but, failed.
Balasundram stubbornly stood his ground and revealed further that this incident was connected to an application for an excision of a 13.11 acres hill property to a non hill land so that it would be developed like any other land.
(Note: Any land which is more than 250 feet above sea-level is considered as hill land and therefore comes under the purview of the Conservation Act.)
In his speech, K. Balasundram demanded:
"The Penang State Government must establish a committee of enquiry headed by former Supreme Court judges, like either Tan Sri Chang Min Tatt or Tan Sri Eusoffe Abdoolcader, to investigate into this case since it is said to involve a top politician in the government. This is to clear the good name of the government."
Immediately after Balasundram had completed his speech on the above matter, the Deputy Chief Minister, Dr. Ibrahim Saad, who is also the Chairman of the State Land Committee, jumped to his feet, although Bala did not mention the name of the politician for whom the RM300,000 was meant for.
Dr. Ibrahim declared in the House that the matter would be investigated thoroughly. And he even assured Balasundram that the State Government would allow him to sit in this enquiry committee if he so wished.
The next day, 2nd June, the Opposition Leader, Lim Kit Siang, again raised this matter which was still surrounded in mystery. Kit Siang shocked the House when he revealed the name of the top BN government politician.
Normally one would challenge Kit Siang to repeat the accusation outside the House but the Chief Minister, Dr. Koh Tsu Koon, anticipating trouble for the Barisan Nasional government, quickly cut in to declare that the State Government would establish a one-man enquiry committee by him and that he would investigate the matter. And that if anyone was not satisfied with his investigation, then the matter could be brought up in the House.
Kit Siang and Dr. Koh had a heated debate on this matter with Dr. Koh maintaining that he, and he alone, will investigate. Kit Siang insisted that it must be investigated by a Committee of House which should not be headed by him (Dr Koh) alone.
Following this heated furore over the RM300,000 alleged pay-off, the DAP Assemblyman for Pengkalan Kota, Chow Kon Yeow, moved an amendment to the Motion of Thanks. The amendment was to include the setting up of an Enquiry Committee headed by the Speaker - Dato' Abdul Rahman Abbas, the Chief Minister - Dr. Koh Tsu Koon, Opposition Leader - Lim Kit Siang, State EXCO Member - Dr. Helmy and K. Balasundram with the powers to subpoena any person or body of persons, to investigate the RM300,000 pay-off scandal.
However, this amendment was thrown out by the Speaker.
It would appear that neither the Deputy Chief Minister, Dr. Ibrahim Saad, nor the Chief Minister, Dr. Koh Tsu Koon, is genuinely interested in getting down to the root of this scandal although it has been explicitly said to involve a top BN politician in the House.
What had become of this case? Had there ever any investigation done by Dr. Koh Tsu Koon into the alleged bribe.
Although this scandal is beyond the committee scope of investigation, I sincerely hope that you would take a second look at this alleged corruption as you can now access into the 1994 minutes or records of Dr. Koh Tsu Koon's lone investigation.
I have read the 3 comments in the Malaysia Today - it is not the RM 300,000 - it's small feed, but the name of the person involved will surprise you.