Most Read
Most Commented
Read more like this

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power.”

- Abraham Lincoln

QUESTION TIME Merely raising the question of whether Penang Chief Minister and DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng should step down is anathema to some. Why, given the context in which Lim is widely referred to in Penang as “tokong”, roughly translated as deity, it might even be blasphemy, considering the consistent vehemence of the reaction by some of his supporters.

My thoughts on this are reflected in this article which was written before he was charged in court on two counts of corruption. And they pretty much remain unchanged.

The most common argument made for Lim to stay on in his position pending the outcome of the trial is that he is being selectively prosecuted, that others have committed crimes thousands of times larger, and have not been charged, brought to account or have stepped down.

His supporters try to wash away his alleged impropriety of buying a property at below market price from a businesswoman as a “willing buyer, willing seller” deal ignoring the substantial benefit he may get by doing that and compromising his influential position as chief minister, a position which makes many want to curry favour with him by any means possible.

One thing is not refuted by all parties - he bought the bungalow at below market price.

The bungalow is at 25, Jalan Pinhorn, in upmarket Green Lane. Lim bought the 10,161 sq ft property in July 28 last year for RM2.8 million, at about RM276 per square foot. The previous owner, Phang Li Koon, bought it at RM2.5 million, or RM246 psf, on Sept 27, 2008.

She had renovated the property and later rented it to Lim for six years at RM5,000 a month. Lim agreed that he knew that the stamp duty valuation for the house was RM4.2 million. Using RM4.27 million as the value of the bungalow, Lim underpaid by RM1.47 million, a significant sum. If we use a RM7.3 million valuation (using alleged new land values), the underpayment works out to about three times at RM4.5 million.

I am not sure about the law but this is the question I have: Is it okay for a public official to take gratification/donation/undervaluation/whatever-other-name-you-call-it even if it is not tied to a particular event? I say no. It is not an insignificant sum - at least RM1.47 million perhaps as much as RM4.5 million.

But yes, there is selective prosecution, yes, more should be done about that RM2.6 billion - subsequently raised to RM4.2 billion donation - and many other cases of lesser amounts, and yes, Lim seems to be singled out. But does all that absolve him from any wrong that he may have done? No. If his behaviour has been improper, he should step down...

Please join the Malaysiakini WhatsApp Channel to get the latest news and views that matter.

Unlocking Article
Unlocking Article
View Comments