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‘Give a dog a bad name and hang him’: Is that what they are trying to do to Lim Guan Eng?

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Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz should reveal details of all directly negotiated awards undertaken by the present and past administrations, P Ramakrishnan writes.

First, it was the undersea tunnel project. Corruption was implied without a money trail and without an incriminating bank account where the money was stashed away.

Now it is the 101 government projects worth RM6.61bn allegedly awarded without open tender by the Pakatan Harapan government. It is suggested the former Finance Minister, Lim Guan Eng, was responsible for this – thus hinting that corruption was involved.

Again, a deliberate ploy was embarked upon to tarnish Guan Eng’s reputation without producing a shred of evidence that could condemn him.

This brings to mind the proverb: “Give a dog a bad name and hang him.” This is what they are trying to do to him in order to destroy him. It is often stated that a lie, repeated often enough, tends to be taken as the truth. Is this the sinister strategy that is being adopted and deployed to go after Guan Eng?

Guan Eng has claimed all these projects were awarded with the sanction of the cabinet, but the turncoat Azmin Ali, presently serving as Senior Minister for the Economy, had disputed this in Parliament claiming, “Bagan had never tabled the list of all the projects to the cabinet.”

Without mincing his words, Guan Eng told Azmin, “You’re a liar.”

Azmin had also stated “the then finance minister had approved direct negotiations”.

Does this mean Azmin was admitting he was aware Guan Eng “had approved direct negotiations” when he was a minister in the Pakatan Harapan government? How did he know?

Thinking Malaysians may wonder how on earth it was possible for Guan Eng to negotiate directly without informing or consulting the cabinet. If Azmin claims “the then finance minister had approved direct negotiations”, what did Azmin do? Did he raise this matter at the cabinet meetings? If he had kept quiet, it only meant that the then-finance minister had acted within the law that authorised him to do so. Why is Azmin then whining now?

Are we to draw the inference that while Azmin was part of the PH cabinet, it was not wrong to do so under certain circumstances, but now that he is part of a renegade government it was not the right thing?

In addressing the issue as disclosed by the Finance Minister, Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz – that 101 direct negotiation deals were awarded under the PH government – Guan Eng put it bluntly: “I challenge them to reveal all, so the public can see which company won the contract, which crony benefited, and which minister had sought those approvals.

“Perhaps Zafrul is afraid that he would be exposing the prime minister, who was the home minister during the Harapan administration and other ‘pengkhianat’ ministers, who sought direct-award projects from me when I was finance minister.”

All the pretended outrage displayed by the Perikatan Nasional MPs in Parliament is disgusting if it is true, as claimed by Guan Eng, that the ministers had even approached him for direct awards. According to the former finance minister, even the current Prime Minister, Muhyiddin Yassin, was allegedly guilty of this when he was the home minister under the PH government.

Why are they now crying for Guan Eng’s blood? Why are they blowing hot air? This is nothing but hypocrisy at its best in an attempt to destroy a man!

Tengku Zafrul Aziz, the Finance Minister, had also clarified in Parliament that direct award contracts are allowed by the government if there is only one supply source available or if the project cannot be delayed or for security reasons and for bumiputera companies that meet the requirements needed for the project.

Zafrul had, therefore, conceded that direct awards are allowed under certain circumstances. If so, what was his point in mentioning the 101 negotiated deals? Was he inferring that these 101 projects did not meet the criteria? Was he alluding to the fact that these awarded projects did not come under this exemption? If there was any hanky-panky in these awards, he should have stated this unambiguously. But he did not. Why?

The whole drama was seemingly orchestrated. Was it staged, one may wonder? A Barisan Nasional MP asked whether any projects were awarded through direct negotiations under the PH administration. The finance minister mentioned 101 projects without mentioning these projects were awarded according to existing requirements. Then a chorus of outraged roars ensued from the PN MPs. The House was in uproar!

The finance minister should have told the truth and shamed the devil instead of igniting emotions and releasing anger and fury.

Abdul Azeez Rahim (the BN MP for Baling) asked Zafrul to provide a list of all the projects mentioned, while mocking former Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng (PH-Bagan) for allegedly not being truthful. Surprisingly, even an Umno member wanted the full list to be released!

Anwar Ibrahim (PH-Port Dickson) asked that the projects concerned be made public,

Mahathir demanded: “To ensure that the principle of transparency is practised, I would like to call for the minister to announce the list of these projects, alongside the names of those who got the approval regardless of who they are.”

A visibly upset Guan Eng challenged the finance minister: “I challenge Tengku Zafrul to reveal the full list of all projects awarded through direct negotiations under PH, PN and Barisan Nasional governments immediately,” he told a press conference at the Parliament building.”

It is a fair challenge. Will Zafrul release the full list under the three governments? To be seen as being fair and concerned, he has a moral obligation to make public the entire list of beneficiaries under directly negotiated awards so that Malaysians will have all the facts to make an informed judgement.

It is an obligation that Zafrul cannot avoid – if he is a man of honour. He should table a White Paper in Parliament giving the entire truthful information regarding directly negotiated awards of projects undertaken by the BN, PH and PN. Let the truth be told!

Let Zafrul be guided by this saying: “Never try to mess up someone’s life with a lie, when yours can be destroyed with the truth.”

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