Abdullah Badawi invited to the DAP-PAS inter-religious and inter-civilisational dialogue in KL on Saturday to substantiate his allegation that PAS leaders in Terengganu are “vindictive  lot” and explain the state government’s loss of RM90 million in Gunawan Steel

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday):  Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi alleged in Segamat yesterday that PAS leaders in Terengganu are “vindictive lot who only cared about themselves and not the people”.

I wish to extend to the Deputy Prime Minister an open invitation to the DAP-PAS inter-political, inter-religious and inter-civilisational dialogue in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday to substantiate his very serious allegation against the PAS leaders in Terengganu.

Abdullah was particularly incensed that  four of the previous seven members of the Terengganu State Religious and Malay Customs Council, namely former State Executive Council member Datuk Dr Yusof  Nor, former Assembly Speaker Datuk Abdul Rahman Mohamad, Deputy  State Mufti Datuk Mohamed Zubir Awang and former Head of Religious  Schools Datuk Engku Embong Abdul Kadir were removed and replaced.

Does Abdullah really question the right and propriety of the decision of the new PAS Terengganu state government to remove the two UMNO stalwarts Yusuf Nor and Abdulah Rahman from the Council?  If so, let him come to the DAP-PAS public dialogue in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday to make his case, as it would be the best forum for the Terengganu Mentri Besar, Haji Hadi Ahmad Awang and senior State Exco members to respond to the allegations.

The Terengganu Mentri Besar, Haji Hadi Ahmad Awang and four senior  state executive councillors, Mustapha Ali (Economic Development, Petroleum and Industry) , Harun Taib (Education, Dakwah and Syariah Implementation),  Wan Abdul Muttalib Embong (Local  Government and Housing) and Tun Salleh Abas (Special Tasks & Hisbah) will take part in the first inter-party, inter-political,  inter-religious and inter-civilisational dialogue  to be held in the country at the Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, Kuala Lumpur on Saturday, 22nd January 2000 at 8.30 pm.  The topic is “PAS Terengganu Government - Towards a Just Malaysia”.

DAP proposes to organise a series of inter-political, inter-religious and inter-civilisational dialogues in the country to promote greater understanding and to  bring together different communities subscribing to different spiritual faiths, religious ways of life and political ideologies to work for the common good of the country and people.  We will invite leaders from other religions and other political parties including from the Barisan Nasional in our future series.

If Abdullah is prepared to accept the invitation to attend the dialogue on Saturday to substantiate his allegation that PAS leaders in Terengganu are “vindictive lot who only cared about themselves and not the people” and to give the PAS leaders the opportunity of a direct reply, he should also be ready as the Terengganu UMNO State Chairman to explain how an oil-rich state like Terengganu, which gets over RM600 million a year in oil royalties, can end up with a colossal debt of RM731.3 million when it was toppled from power in the Nov. 29, 1999 general election.

Abdullah should also give an accounting for the RM90 million loss suffered by the Terengganu State Government as a result of its 30 per cent stake in Gunawan Iron & Steel Sdn. Bhd. , which registered a net loss of RM3.18 million for the period from 1st January 1999 to 28th March 1999, accummulated current liabilities to the tune of RM195 million and with long-term loans of RM389 million.

A fortnight ago, Terengganu State Economic Development, Petroleum and Industry committee chairman Mustafa Ali told the media that the PAS State Government would  not inject fresh capital to save financially-stricken Gunawan Iron and Steel, a company in which it has 30 per cent equity. The previous government invested more than RM90 million in it.

Mustapha said the State Government felt that the majority shareholder should find the way out of its problems, which include servicing bank loans.

The Gunawan Iron and Steel scandal is the second steel scandal in the country also involving the Terengganu State Government, the first being  the even bigger Perwaja Steel Sdn Bhd scandal.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman