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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Guan Eng: Singapore speech a private conversation

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng would neither admit nor deny today that he made a statement denigrating Johor for its crime rate during a recent working visit to Singapore.

Lim was cautious and politely requested a TV3 reporter to leave the room before responding to the issue at a press conference at his office.

He also requested that any video recording of his statement not be circulated to government-linked TV stations, expressing fears that the content would be "twisted".

"I do not want my statement on the matter to be twisted because it has happened before," Lim said.

The DAP secretary-general then explained that he attended a private luncheon talk with about 20 foreign correspondents in the republic, after which copies of his speech were distributed.

The prepared speech, he added, does not contain any mention of Johor or its crime rate.

NONEAsked about the audio recording - aired on Buletin Utama on TV3 - which revealed that he had disparaged Johor for its crime rate during the Aug 12 event, Lim said he had to check on the context in which the statement was made.

"If I had made the statement, let's look at the context in which it was made... it was a private conversation," he said.

Lim said the matter was brought up while he was in Surabaya, and he had issued a statement through his press secretary, Wong Kim Fei, saying he did not wish to "play or dance to the tunes of the Barisan Nasional-controlled media".

He said that he was currently facing a legal suit with Umno-linked Malay language daily Utusan Malaysia over an article suggesting he wanted to abolish the New Economic Policy (NEP).

'They want to distract and tire me out'

Lim is suing the newspaper, after having vehemently denied ever uttering such a statement.

"They want to distract me and tire me out. I already have a court case with Umno-linked Malay language daily Utusan Malaysia, and that is already enough and time-consuming," he said.

lim guan eng press conference on economist report 140811 1"But I will not let them get away... if I do, they will continue to play the game," he added.

Lim said his detractors were "jumping from place to place" to criticise him for his comments made overseas, starting with his interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in Melbourne recently.

He complained that when he provided evidence that he did not mention Johor in that interview, his statement was twisted by the local media.

If he responded to the controversy around his Singapore speech, he said, his critics would continue to make issues about all his overseas trips.

'We will deal with them one by one'

"They started with Australia, they would now be jumping to China, to Hong Kong and Surabaya," he said.

"We will deal with them one by one, starting with national news agency Bernama.

"If the news agency does not reply to us, we will direct our lawyers to take the necessary action," Lim added.

According to a Sept 23 Bernama report, Lim had “allegedly” said that Johor was not a safe state, with kidnappings being common, unlike Penang.

The report irked Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, a Johorean, who said Lim was undermining Johor and painting the state as an unsuitable investment destination.

It also created waves with BN leaders, who condemned Lim as a poor statesman and demanded he apologies for running down another state for the sake of seeking investments in Penang.

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