Malaysiakini Letter

Why should Lim debate with Wee who has no public support?

P Ramasamy  |  Published:  |  Modified:

LETTER | The MCA's deputy president and minister in the Prime Minister's Department Wee Kia Siong should not pull an Abdul Rahman Dahlan in calling Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng for a debate on Penang's undersea tunnel project.

In April 2016, the BN's strategic communications director and minister in the Prime Minister's Department called Lim for a debate on the allegations that the latter had engaged in corrupt practices, knowing very well that Lim had been charged on two counts and awaiting a court trial.

Lim accepted the debate but at the last minute, Rahman, citing advice from the police, pulled out of the debate. Lim responded by calling Rahman a "chicken". Although it was Rahman who had called for a public debate with Lim, he found an unacceptable excuse to wiggle out of the debate.

If Lim (photo) agrees to the debate, I am not sure whether Wee would go along with it, simply because the matter of the tunnel project is still being investigated by the MACC. There is a possibility, even if Wee wants to debate with Lim, that he might be "advised" to pull out of the debate on the grounds of ongoing investigations.

Wee wants to debate with Lim not because he thinks that he is on the right side, rather he believes that this coming general election is the last chance for his party to make a comeback amongst the  Malaysian Chinese in the country. The party has been battered politically to a considerable degree, due to the withdrawal of Malaysian Chinese support.

Yes, Wee has raised many questions on the tunnel project, however, on closer examination, they are mere lies, half-truths and slanderous statements. To date, he has not raised anything that is worthwhile, something to be considered important for an open debate.

It is not there have been no debate or exchange of views on the matter of the tunnel. In the last few months or so, there has been a virtual debate in the mass media between members of the Penang state government and the leaders of MCA and Gerakan. I don't understand why Wee wants to have an open debate when he has already exhausted his questions?

In fact, even Wee had failed to respond to some of the questions raised by Lim in the battle over the tunnel.

The Penang state government has maintained a consistent stand on the tunnel project. It has stated that project was given to Zenith Consortium on an open tender basis and that the China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC) was the main contractor to implement the project.

However, despite official statements made on the project and numerous replies to counter the unfounded allegations, principally coming from MCA and Gerakan leaders, the Penang government has made it clear that as far it is concerned, that there is nothing fishy or scandalous about the tunnel project.

Wee had raised many questions at the beginning about the tunnel project, but lately, he has narrowed down to the amount paid to CRCC and why a more than RM6 billion project was given to Zenith, a company that is incapable of delivering the project as scheduled. Now all of a sudden, as the general election approaches, he has gone from a debate in the media to ask Lim for a public debate on allegations of corruption in the tunnel project.

The Penang chief minister will have to make his decision whether he would accept the challenge from Wee for a public debate. Under normal circumstances, I don't think Lim would shy away from a public debate. Remember when Rahman called for a debate about two years ago, Lim agreed to the debate, but it was Rahman who pulled out giving excuses.

In the case of Wee (photo), there is really nothing to debate about.  Lim has a considerable support amongst Malaysians, principally the Chinese and Indian communities. Why should he want to debate with Wee, who has no support, but hanging on lifeline extended by Umno?

Of course, Lim has to make the ultimate decision whether to accept Wee’s challenge for a public debate. It is strange that Wee who slavishly defended the MACC’s investigation of the tunnel project has indirectly raised doubts about the investigation by calling for an open debate.

P RAMASAMY is Penang deputy chief minister and Perai assemblyperson.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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