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Sunday, February 7, 2010

PAS: Malays, Muslims not marginalized in Penang

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 5: PAS has come to the defense of Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, refuting allegations that Malay rights and share of the state's economic pie have been sidelined by the Pakatan Rakyat state government.

“In 2008, allocations for Islamic affairs and development from the BN state government only amounted to RM12.5 million. But the Pakatan Rakyat government under Lim Guan Eng raised this to RM20.5 million in 2009,” PAS information chief Ustaz Idris Ahmad told Harakahdaily.

“For 2010, the allocations have again been increased and they now total RM24.3 million. This is the highest ever allocation received by Islamic institutions in the state. So it is not true that the Pakatan government in Penang has sidelined the Muslims and the Malays."

Burning Guan Eng's effigy

But even as Idris spoke, a group of Umno-linked Malay NGOs burned an effigy of Guan Eng to protest the alleged marginalization of their community in the state. About 300 protesters marched from a nearby mosque after Friday prayers to Guan Eng’s office at Komtar to hand over a memorandum.

The march was organised by the Penang Malay Chamber of Commerce and National Malay Students Federation or GPMS. Encouraging them was Ibrahim Ali, head of Perkasa and MP for Pasir Mas. They carried banners that read, "Lim Guan Eng, Don't test our patience, Malays are the lords of this land."

Of late, unseen hands have stirred a ruckus of trouble for Guan Eng, who is also the DAP secretary-general. He has even been ambushed by his Pakatan colleagues – Bayan Baru MP Zahrain Hashim and Nibong Tebal MP Tan Tee Beng – who publicly condemned his leadership. 

Both MPs are due to face disciplinary action from their PKR party.

Politically instigated

Meanwhile, Idris accused the Penang Malay Chamber of Commerce, which is aligned to Umno, of having ulterior motives. He refuted their claim that Malays were left out of state projects.

According to Idris, in 2008, 78 Malay contractors compared to 35 non-Malay contractors received projects based on price tender, while a Malay and one non-Malay contractor received projects based on open tender.

In 2009, the number of Malay contractors who received projects based on price tender shot up to 89, although the number of non-Malay contractors who obtained projects fell to 19.  At the same, the number of Malay firms that received contracts through open tender rose to 45, while non-Malay firms won only six.

"This is a good reminder and proof that the Pakatan state government has respected the rights of the Malays while not denying the rights of the other races. The priority in awarding projects depends on the qualification, the financial capacity and the enthusiasm that each bidding firm shows, not their racial background," said Idris.


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