Malaysia

Penang increases funds for Islamic projects

By Yow Hong Chieh
May 10, 2011

Guan Eng announced that RM2.3 million has also been set aside this year to acquire land for the construction of religious schools — file picGuan Eng announced that RM2.3 million has also been set aside this year to acquire land for the construction of religious schools — file picKUALA LUMPUR, May 10 — The Penang government has increased allocations for Islamic projects in the state by 22 per cent to RM33.3 million this year from RM27.4 million last year, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said today.

He said the state government would provide funds to the Islamic Affairs Department and the state secretary’s office to assist “religious projects” like religious schools, mosques and syariah courts in Penang.

He added the Penang government has also set aside RM2.3 million this year to acquire land for the purpose of building religious schools.

“This is far more ... than what was allocated in the final year of my good friend’s administration,” Lim said, referring to former Penang chief minister and Gerakan president, Tan Sri Koh Tsu Koon.

“As a state government that is fair and sensitive to the needs of the people, regardless of religion, the state government has worked towards providing sufficient land for the construction of religious schools.”

Lim also lamented the constant attacks by Barisan Nasional (BN) component party Gerakan that label his administration as “anti-Chinese” and asked why Umno, which has called the current Penang government “anti-Malay”, has not criticised or demonstrated against Gerakan for its remarks.

He argued this proved that both Umno and Gerakan only know how to divide the people for the sake of their “narrow political interests”.

“These two parties are racist parties that pose a danger to plural society,” he said.

“I wish to stress that the PR (Pakatan Rakyat) Penang government has never been anti-Malay or anti-Chinese. We are only anti-Penang BN.”

Penang Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Mansor Othman told The Malaysian Insider in December last year that PR could lose some state seats in the next general election owing to Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia’s persistent attacks against the DAP-led state government.

PR controls 29 of the 40 seats in the state assembly, with DAP holding the lion’s share of 19 seats.

“Malay support is dwindling ... To me, it is a result of continuous blasting, attacks by the media, mainstream media. If you lie once, twice people won’t believe you. But if you lie 20 times, things start to sound convincing,” Mansor said in an exclusive interview.

The first-term deputy chief minister listed the state seats which could face a significant shift of Malay support back to Umno, namely Seberang Jaya and Bayan Lepas. He also said the Jelutong and Tanjong Tokong federal seats could also fall back to Umno.

Mansor, however, said the Penang government was “not too worried” about rural Malay support as they are traditionally Umno supporters.

Utusan has labelled DAP “the king of racism” owing to Lim’s alleged laundry list of anti-Malay acts. They include claims that the DAP secretary-general banned a Maulidur Rasul procession, prevented Malay traders from participating in the Ramadan bazaar in Komtar and approved the demolition of several Malay villages.

The Malay daily had also alleged that Lim used gambling revenue to fund compassionate payments to senior citizens, some of whom were Muslims.