Ahad, 7 Jun 2009

Boycott: Guan Eng blames PKR man

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said he was informed by state PKR chairman Datuk Zahrain Mohamed Hashim that Johari was unhappy that he was not appointed to the post.

"The appointment is made for everybody's interests, not for personal interests," he said yesterday.

Eight of the nine PKR representatives in the council boycotted Mokhtar's swearing-in ceremony on Thursday to protest against his appointment by Lim.

Johari claimed that Mokh- tar's appointment was made without consulting the party.

Lim said Mokhtar, who was previously the Seberang Prai Utara district officer, was appointed the Seberang Prai Municipal Council (MPSP) president because of his good performance.

"We chose the most qualified person for the post without considering his skin colour, religion and political affiliation," he added.

The Seberang Prai Municipal Council has 24 councillors, comprising 10 from DAP, PKR (nine), Pas (two) and three representatives from non-governmental organisations.

Only 14 of them attended Mokhtar's swearing-in ceremony on Thursday.

Johari has hit out at Lim for making unsubstantiated allegations that he was eyeing the president's position and that he initiated the boycott on Thursday.

Johari said he was disappointed with Lim for making such baseless allegations.

"I was merely insisting that the post be given to PKR and it has got nothing to do with my personal gain.

"But Lim told the media otherwise, saying that he was informed by state PKR liaison committee chief Datuk Zah- rain Mohamed Hashim that I was making a fuss over Mokh- tar's appointment simply because I wanted the post.

"This is ridiculous and a baseless statement," Johari retorted.

Johari later took a swipe at two PKR executive councillors in the state government for failing to inform the party despite knowing that the state government had picked Mokhtar to fill the post.

He said the duo, Abdul Malik Abul Kassim and Law Choo Kiang, had failed to update the state PKR on the matter.

"They should have spoken in the state party's interest that the post should be given to PKR but they decided to keep the matter (Mokhtar's appointment) to themselves," he said yesterday.

Johari alleged that Lim had failed to consult the state PKR leadership before picking the candidate despite knowing that PKR had insisted that the post should be given to someone from the party.

Meanwhile, Zahrain said action would not be taken against the eight councillors for boycotting the swearing-in ceremony as they had regretted their actions.

He added that deputy Chief Minister Mansor Othman would soon accompany Johari to meet with Lim "to clear the air" over the incident.

On claims that he had purportedly told Lim that Johari had initiated the boycott as the latter wanted to be appointed to the president's post, Zahrain said it was all a misunderstanding.

"I did not say so to Lim," he said.

Meanwhile, the state Gerakan said the conflict between the state DAP and state PKR was deepening now with the chief minister putting the blame on his political allies for the boycott.

Its secretary, Ong Thean Lye, said Lim, who is also DAP secretary-general, made the decision to appoint Mokhtar instead of giving the post to a PKR man and, therefore, Lim should resolve the issue of unhappiness arising out of his decision.

"But, now Lim said in the newspapers that the boycott was a PKR internal matter," said Ong in a statement, adding that MPSP was a local authority which collected assessment and other taxes from the public.

Ong added that the conflict between DAP and PKR over the appointment intensified, with the chief minister's chief of staff Ooi Chuan Aun demanding the resignation of PKR councillors involved in the boycott.

"Apparently, something is wrong with the Pakatan Rakyat coalition and Ooi's action smacks of arrogance and disrespect to PKR leaders including its Penang chairman Datuk Zahrain Hashim," said Ong.

On a separate issue, state Gerakan assistant secretary Goh Kheng Sneah asked Lim to lift the ban on New Straits Times and Utusan Malaysia to cover state official functions.

Goh said Lim should respect press freedom and allow journalists to carry out their duties without fear or favour.

Referring to the New Straits Times report yesterday of Lim (through his special assistant) asking Utusan Malaysia reporter Hasnurul Mohammad to leave the swearing-in of the council president, Goh urged the mass media, especially the mainstream newspapers, to stay united in facing the issue. -- Bernama