In a nut shell, the Lim Guan Eng vs Koh Tsu Koon live debate over NTV7 just now was…just that – a debate. Lim got his chance to grill the former chief minister on questionable land deals during his leadership at the state government, and the latter, managed to air his side of the story.
However, there were hardly any new facts presented, probably because the newspapers had covered the issues about 30times for the past five months.
The crowd, more men than women, sometimes looked confused, and many had a broody and serious look, like this lady:
Lim was his usual confident self, but I noticed he did not smile when Koh made snide remarks against him or the DAP/PAKATAN RAKYAT government.
He had more questions than answers. So, I felt that the debate was like a press conference, with Lim playing the role of journalist and Koh, the “suspected corrupt minister”.
Koh had a lot of “answers” but to the audience with whom I was watching the programme, it was not very convincing.
Lim was professional and did not pull any punches below the belt. He stucked to the debate topic, though he caved in at last by mentioning the issue of an empty CM’s office, which he inherited from Koh, after the March 8 elections.
Not to be outdone, Koh questioned how DAP could unearth the mysteries of the land scams if there were no files to reply on.
Lim was definitely prepared with the reply that even without files, DAP had previously exposed many scandals. “What more when we are now the state government?”
Koh made funny insinuations about Lim and DAP at the first opportunity.
He did it even in his opening speech: “Eventhough you are already the state government but you still act like the opposition,” he told Lim off. I do not think Lim appreciated that comment. He held his head down.
But Koh did admit one thing, though, that the accustions leveled at him were cases that happen during the rule of Barisan Nasional, not UMNO, as mentioned by Lim.
I watched the the debate with a retired nurse, human resources manager, a teacher and a pyschologist, and all of them said Koh was “defensive”.
He accused Lim of “politicising” the issues with the intention of shaming and embarrassing the past state government. He also blamed his successor for ‘sensationalising’ the scandals, asking if it were fair to do so.
The former CM even chided one of the referrees, journalist Wan Hamidi from the Malaysian Insider, for asking a question which sounded like an accusation.
Wan Hamidi queried if the Tan Sri was denying the accusations, although based on facts, and if he were ‘protecting those involved’.
Koh tried (very hard) to justify the alleged corruption related to land deals in the previous state government, saying: “In these 18 years (when he governed Penang from the 28th floor in KOMTAR), there had been about 10,000 pieces of paper work.
“If there were about 5-7 errors (referring to the scandals brought up by Lim), it still means our performance rate was 99.9 percent,” he exclaimed. Some people actually clapped in response to that!
Wow. So, its okay to have scandals?
Lim replied correctly: “Even if there were one scandal involving millions, I would be very worried”.
He added that Koh should not keep silent about the matter as we (Malaysia) have lost about 100bil USDs due to corruption!
Towards the end, Koh skirted around the issues expressed by Lim, and his thoughts and arguments were “fragmented”.
We lost our way listening to him. But at least he did not ‘salivate’.
I must commend both Lim and Koh, however, for maintaining their ‘cool’, though the latter seemed like ‘a pressure cooker’, waiting to let off steam anytime 🙂
Lim on the other hand was concise in his argument and accusations, though he repeated the issues several times.
He reiterated the new government’s commitment of “Competency, Accuracy and Transparency”.
Koh, of course, countered back with the Bersih (clean), Cekap (efficient) and Amanah (trustworthy) slogan prmoted by Mahathir Mohamad when he became prime minister in 1982.
To which Lim shot back: “But they were not practised!”.
Throughout the debate, Lim was focussed on several issues, and he was really desperate for the answers, to which he never got any:
1)How much was the damages (losses) due to the land scams?
2)Who was responsible and why was there impunity (no action taken against the wrong doers)?
3) What is the impact of the land scams on the state and people?
4) Why is it that Koh had refused t meet him to discuss/resolve the land scam issues?
Koh merely blamed Lim for incomplete facts, and attempted to explain that he had indeed acted on the alleged scandals, like bringing the case to the Anti Corruption Agency twice, inviting Lim to try a third attempt.
He explained the reason why the previous government had not publicised the matter: “because the case was still going on and it is subjudiced”. Same old excuses.
I think I heard the crowd (some) booing (not so loud) at Koh. Did you hear it too? To which Koh said “Lets debate professionally” and the audience fell silent.
I guess Koh lost the debate, and so did the people. And Lim did not win.
Because at the end of the night, the real topic of the debate was not addressed. There were more questions than answers.
More reasons to debate. And a real strategy to resolve the suspicious land deals.