PETALING JAYA: April 24, 2008 By SHAHANAAZ HABIB
The Penang state government will continue to offer posts to people who are "competent, accountable and transparent" regardless of which political party they belong to.
Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said he was serious in wanting to forge a new paradigm that cuts across the political divide and brings people together including those "who did not vote for us" to contribute to the betterment of the state.
He said while this was "something new and groundbreaking" he certainly did not expect the move to be "criticised and condemned in such strong terms by top national (Barisan Nasional) leaders."
"Are we going to grow up and grow out of the outdated mindset? The time has come to look at the content of character rather than colour of skin or the gods you pray to or the respective political beliefs that you hold," he said at a press conference Thursday.
He said there should not be discrimination against someone based on political party he or she was from.
He stressed that the Pakatan Rakyat-led Penang government would have no second thoughts about offering other clean and competent Barisan leaders in the state a post.
"It is Barisan which is having second thoughts and exerting pressure on its members to pull out. If we have the confidence they can serve - we will appoint them.
"If they feel they don't want to take on the pressure they have a right not to continue and we respect their wishes and we will not condemn," he added.
He was commenting on former Gerakan deputy secretary-general Datuk Lee Kah Choon quitting the party after coming under fire from Barisan leaders for accepting the Penang Development Corporation (PDC) director and InvestPenang executive committee chairman post from the new Pakatan-led Penang government.
Lim stressed that the Penang state government never made it a requirement that Lee or any other Barisan leader in the state leave their respective parties to accept any state appointment "but even that is seen as unacceptable".
"It is a bit unfortunate that they (Barisan) look at it from a political affiliation perspective and pressure is exerted and applied not allow us to break out of this mould. Is it so difficult to shake our hands?" he asked.
To a question, Lim said there was nothing for him or Lee to feel bad about over the latter (Lee) quitting his party.
"Those who should feel bad know who they are. Let us leave those people who should feel bad to their own devices," he added.
On why he picked Lee, a lawyer and a former parliamentary secretary, who had no business experience to head PDC, Lim said: "Did Koh Tsu Koon have experience in business when he became the Penang Chief Minister. He was only an academic."
Lim said he wanted to make Penang dynamic again and for that it would need the effort and co-operation of everyone in the state.
"Let us break out and get down to work for the people. Campaigning is over. The losers should respect the wishes of the people and co-operate instead of trying to sabotage or undermine the efforts of those who had won," he said, adding that the people expected a certain level of maturity from their politicians and elected representatives.