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Political cronyism: Pakatan is just as guilty, says Daim

Political cronyism: Pakatan is just as guilty, says Daim
DAIM: Business and politics are like Siamese twins -- inseparable and inevitable.
KUALA LUMPUR: The Pakatan Rakyat government should take a good look at themselves in the mirror.

Tun Daim Zainuddin said for years, Pakatan has been accusing the UMNO and Barisan Nasional (BN) government of corruption and political cronyism, something that they themselves are guilty of.
“If you were to read the pro-opposition or Pakatan-sympathetic media and social media, you will be bombarded and drilled constantly as if political cronyism only existed in Malaysia and in BN-controlled states, but not in the states controlled by Pakatan. However, we know the truth and reality goes far beyond that.

“The pro-opposition media and social media have relentlessly branded and vilified me as the one of the main architects of business-politics. Truth is, business and politics are like Siamese twins – inseparable and inevitable,” Daim said in his speech at the ‘An Exclusive Afternoon with YABhg Tun Daim Zainuddin’ event organised by the Malaysian Industrial Development Finance (MIDF) at Hotel Istana here yesterday.
Speaking in front of some 200-strong crowd, the 76-year-old former finance minister said in an ideal world, political parties should never get involved in business. But then, “who do you get funds from to run the party or contest in elections?”

He said, UMNO has been in business for a long time and from the first prime minister. “We need funds to run the party and to fight elections.  Nothing is free. Either you do it in the open, as UMNO does now, or you use nominees as in the past.

“UMNO and other BN component parties are very open and public about this and hence they come under public scrutiny and all the brickbats in the printed and social media.”

However, if you flip the coin over, he said, what then about Pakatan and the conduct of the state governments controlled by them?

Daim said one of the earliest projects that the Pakatan Government implemented upon taking over Penang in 2008 was to Wi-Fi George Town. “Perhaps we can ask the Penang state government how the project was awarded and if it was based on competitive bidding, and whether all the original objectives or promises by both the state government and contractor have been met?”

Then, just before the 2013 general election (GE), said Daim, the same state government suddenly announced it was going ahead with an underground tunnel cum land swap through land reclamation with the developer.

“Was there any open tenders called for this project? How were the evaluations done and who are the parties privileged enough to be awarded this multi-billion dollar project?” he asked.

He also raised the ‘suddenly cosy’ relationship between the state government and housing developers, pointing out that there has been a surge and migration of Klang Valley-based developers “suddenly launching projects after projects in Penang”.

In Selangor, Daim said just before the 2013 GE, Pakatan had sought for the disclosures of the many ‘sweet-heart deals’ signed by the state government.

“There were allegations and counter allegations. Suddenly, now the silence is more deafening. What happened to all the promises of an expose?”

He noted that ever since Pakatan took over Selangor, hundreds of foot and reflexology centres mushroomed all over the state.

“You know what happens behind closed doors at most of these reflexology centres. This was all linked to certain personalities in the state government. I don’t need to elaborate or mention the link between these centres to the undesirable activities and also increase in crime rates in the state.”

However, as it would be spun, he said, it is the BN government or the police’s fault. “That maybe partly true but who provided or facilitated the fertile ground for this in the first place? Or are these businesses too small to be termed as political cronyism?” he questioned.

As for Kelantan, Daim said it was an open secret that the state government had been leasing out thousands of hectares of land to loggers and planters, with the more famous cases being those leased to DAP parliamentarians and cousins Ngeh Koo Ham and Nga Kor Ming of Perak.

“No political cronyism and nepotism? We know the modus operandi and in order to create an ‘Islamic and clean’ image for the PAS government, is to lease these land to a state-owned body or corporation for a nominal fee. Subsequently, the land are sub-leased to loggers and planters at another nominal fee but tagged with a huge political donation to the party, officials and party cadres.

Daim said Pakatan have always been quick to pick out the speck in BN or UMNO’s eye but always forget the log that is in front of their own eyes.

“Perhaps they have been clever in disguising or hiding their own cosy relationships with businessmen, developers and other tycoons, but does that mean they do not exist?”

He called for Malaysian citizens and voters to not be fooled into thinking that it is only political cronyism when it involves BN or UMNO related companies or supporters, but when it happens in Pakatan-controlled states or when it is at a smaller scale, it can be glossed over.

“Unfortunately, the social media has painted the BN and its component parties so black and despondent that when put in comparison to whatever the Pakatan state governments do; it is minute, small sweat and are easily glossed over.

“It’s easy to blame everything wrong on the previous BN government before Pakatan took over. But how long can Pakatan continue to use BN/UNMO as the scapegoat?” Daim asked.

“How long can you continue to swallow such indoctrination and falsehood?”