Heated debate at state assembly


MALACCA: The state legislative assembly ended sine-die on Thursday but not before a fiery exchange between Barisan Nasional backbenchers and Opposition front during the three days of Q&A sessions.

The more intriguing debate was when Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam chided the Opposition for banking on Barisan’s efforts to help the people to gain self-publicity on the second day of the proceeding.

He referred to an acquisition exercise at Wisma Bendahara in Jalan Bendahara after 30 traders operating in the premises failed to settle their quit rent.

Mohd Ali added that the state was working on the details on the compensation to the traders.

“If we were to follow rules, the traders would not receive compensation.

“But as a caring government, we are prepared to consider providing them with financial assistance following the acquisition,” he told Betty Chew Gek Cheng (DAP-Kota Laksamana).

Chew earlier said the affected traders has yet to receive the compensation.

In rebuttal, Mohd Ali said the redevelopment of Wisma Bendahara would include the construction of a commercial centre and tourism hub.

On the same day, the Opposition assemblymen were also briefed on the buyout of the 10 state omnibus operators.

State Transportation, Information, Unity and Consumerism Committee chairman Datuk Ghazale Mohamad said Opposition should not point their finger on the state, alleging that the welfare of bus drivers and conductors were not taken care after the acquisition.

He then enlightened the assembly that the workers now had a steady income after the operations came under the purview of the state-owned agency Panorama Melaka Culture & Tourism (PMCT) Sdn Bhd on Feb 1.

He added that they were now paid between RM807 and RM1,286 each in basic salary per month, which was higher than their previous incomes.

On Thursday, the assembly witnessed another verbal war when Khoo PoayTiong (DAP-Ayer Keroh) alleged that an individual with a title of ‘Datuk’ also was among the recipients of Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia

(BR1M).

The accusation had irked State Industrial, Commerce, Entrepre-neurDevelopment committee chairman Datuk Abdul Ghaffar Atan who told Khoo to conduct a check on whether the matter was true before shooting his mouth.

“Probably, its true a Datuk received the aid, but he could be earning less than RM3,000 a month.

“Not all Datuks are rich, some could have awarded such title sometime ago, perhaps they are not doing very well and we shouldn’t look down on them,” he told the assembly.

Abdul Ghaffar continued his verbal attack by quoting a Malay proverb that illustrates on how a rich man could one day end up as a pauper due to his trait on looking down on others.

“YB Ayer Keroh, don’t forget that not all men are fortunate at all time, there are times when some would have crisis during one point oftheir lives, Probably one day, YB too might face such a situation and wouldn’t be respected,” he said.

At this juncture, Khoo interjected by asking Abdul Ghaffar to get traight to the point without beating around the bush.

The assembly was also told that the government had managed to slash its liabilities totalling to about RM45mil borne by Putra Specialist Hospital after taking over its management from Southern Hospital in 2004.

State Religious Affairs committee chairman Datuk Yaakub Md Amin said the Malacca government also embarked on measures to add more specialists, promoting the hospital abroad and encouraging community-related activities in a move to generate additional revenue for the hospital.

“We will do the best to see the hospital don’t run into losses,” hes aid in his reply to Tey Kok Kiew (DAP-Banda Hilir).

Durint the sitting, the assembly was also told about 40 raids that were carried out on illegal cybercafes up to Feb 15.

Local Government and Environ-ment committee chairman Datuk Mohd YunusHusin said the state is serious in eradicating the gambling menace here.

The assembly was also told that the state has no clout to approve applications from hypermarkets managements in the state as this comes under the purview of Domestic Trade, Co-operative andConsumerism Ministry.

State Transporation, Information, Unity and Consumerism committee chairman Datuk Ghazale Muhamad said the Ministry has the utmost authority to approve such applications.

He also enlightened the house that criterias set by the Federal Government for such hypermarkets states that 30% of the equity should be held by the Bumiputra and could produce a working capital of between RM50mil to RM25mil depending on the size of such businesses.

He added the hypermarkets should also occupy a land size between 5,000sq/m to 3,000 sq/m before approval is granted.

Operations of a hypermarket is only allowed in area that has population of more than 25,000 people in a bid to protect the interestof small and medium entrepreneurs.

Ghazale concluded the session by revealing that Malacca currently has five hypermarkets, namely Tesco, Jusco and Giant that provides employment to some 1,407 Malacca residents.

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