The DAP has always prided itself as a party of principles that stands for freedom of speech and thought, equality and justice.
They fought well and hard over the years coming close to capturing the state government of Penang in 1990. Their leaders have also been seen as upright even though many vehemently disagree with them.
This was clearly evidenced by bipartisan outpouring of grief and adulation for the late Karpal Singh after his death in 2014.
However, Lincoln once said, give a man power if you really wish to test him.
In 12th and 13th General Elections the people of Penang voted overwhelmingly for DAP and its Pakatan Rakyat partners. MCA, MIC and my own party Gerakan were left with no seats at all. It was no mean feat and underpinned the trust the people of Penang had placed in Lim Guan Eng and his team.
Lim Guan Eng coined the captive motto of “competency, accountability and transparency” early on in his first term.
He promised a break with the past and castigated the previous Gerakan-led Barisan Nasional (BN) as corrupt, incompetent and impotent. His supporters even went to the extend of naming a certain fruit after a senior Penang BN leader to describe the subservient nature of Gerakan and others to Umno in the state government.
DAP has a good run the first five years with limited opposition from BN as many in BN were still reeling from the shock of losing the state government and found it rather discomfiting to embrace the role of the opposition in Penang.
Far from promising a CAT government, Lim second term has become famous for all the wrong reasons.
First was the Penang Transport Master Plan, estimated to cost around RM27bil. This included enlarging current and building new highways including an undersea tunnel, which will serve as the third link between the mainland and the island.
There was no real debate on the matter as Lim rode roughshod over all critics and anyone who dared question him be it seasoned journalists or committed activists were termed as Umno-BN agents.
The press was threatened and some newspapers were sued and others were banned by a party that has stood for the freedom of speech as an article of faith.
The environmental impact study of the Penang undersea tunnel cost the state government RM305mil close to 5% of the total cost of the project and again no one was really allowed to ask questions.
Second, is the unbridled development in Penang including the infamous “Botak Hill” incident; anyone driving on the first Penang Bridge into the island would unmistakeably be blinded albeit temporarily of a hill with a bald peak.
Heritage and historical buildings have been torn down threatening George Town’s Unesco status and also prices of properties have skyrocketed making them unaffordable to the average Penangite.
In fact under the previous BN-led government, Penang has one of the best housing models where many housing estates like Rifle Range and others were developed to ensure homes were affordable.
Third, Lim has found himself in a pickle over the purchase of a bungalow on Pinhorn Road. The property was purchased on the cheap at a significant discount from an individual who has business dealings with the state government and his wife.
The law is pretty clear, no public servant can receive any gratification from an individual he or she has dealings with in his or her official capacity.
Lim has now been charged for corruption over the purchase of the said bungalow but refuses to heed his own party’s advice and take leave of absence from the office of Chief Minister whilst he sorts out his legal problems.
DAP leaders especially Tony Pua suggested the Prime Minister should take leave over 1MDB even though not a single charge has been filed anywhere against anyone in 1MDB. Pua’s churlish suggestion was a calculated attempt to belittle the Prime Minister but now it has come back to haunt DAP.
So DAP’s crisis of confidence is clear and evident, again it is one set of rules for their leaders and one set for everyone else.
How are Malaysians to trust a party that does not practice what they preach?
I believe this is a legitimate question that must be answered. Lim and his cohorts ran on a platform to make Penang better but I do not think Penang and Penangites are better off.
Lim also threatened the Penang Institute for being critical of the state government and even compared them to dogs.
This is most unbecoming more so that the Penang Institute is one of the biggest cheerleaders of his administration.
Hence for them to be critical unmasks a serious underlying problem with the governance deficit in Penang.
Again, Lincoln’s words come to mind and in the case of Penang and Lim Guan Eng, he has failed the test of power.