Wednesday, August 20, 2008

PERMATANG PAUH BY-ELECTION: Anwar denies telling Koh not to take action to recover RM9 mil - Sun

SEBERANG PERAI (Aug20, 2008) by Himanshu Bhatt and Bernard Cheah

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has refuted a claim that he had, as the finance minister in 1998, told then chief minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon not to act against a company that had defaulted in its payments to the Penang government.

Calling Koh a "desperate politician" trying hard to salvage Gerakan, Anwar said his office had merely sent a letter to Koh to "study and address" an appeal by Business Focus Sdn Bhd (BFSB) to renegotiate its repayment scheme.

"There was a letter. He should not say that 10 years ago I had whispered to him. I am clearly disappointed," Anwar said today in response to a statement by Koh yesterday that Anwar had telephoned him to ask him not to act against the company.

Anwar said Koh had lost the support of his Chinese base and was now trying to "kow-tow" to the Umno leaders.

"If this is true, why bring it up now during this by-election?" he asked reporters after a campaign walk-about in Penanti.

Koh had said that Anwar, who was also deputy prime minister at the time, had telephoned him to tell him to let BFSB renegotiate its repayment scheme.

PKR candidate Datuk Anwar Ibrahim greets Taib Abdul Rahman, 75, a voter in the constituency during his walkabout in Penanti.

BFSB, which had bought Penang Shipbuilding Corporation Sdn Bhd (PSC) from Penang Development Corporation in 1992 for RM29 million, had defaulted in his payment by RM9 million.

Anwar said his relations with Koh had been "civil" before this.

Meanwhile, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, who is also the PDC chairman, said today Koh should not try to blame Anwar for the RM9 million loss.

He said Koh should show proof of his allegation that Anwar had telephoned him to tell him to let BFSB renegotiate its repayment scheme.

"To date, RM 9 million has still not being paid and BFSB has since being wound up. Most disturbing is that PSC has now been sold, and the land in Pulau Jerejak owned by another company," Lim said.

He said Anwar's then private secretary, Anuar Shaari, had written to the PDC to ask it to "study and report back" on the proposal by BFSB to settle its outstanding payments.

"There was no instruction by Anwar to extend the payment period by another five years," Lim added.

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