PKR defector stirs up hornet’s nest in Penang assembly

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PKR defector stirs up hornet’s nest in Penang assembly

An opposition man came under attack at the Penang state assembly today after he questioned the repeated use of reserve funds over the past two years and the contentious undersea tunnel project.

Dr Afif Bahardin (PN-Seberang Jaya) saw the knives come out for him after he raised concerns over the state government’s use of its reserves twice last year and this year.

The former PKR man and Penang executive councillor said that with the state reserves at RM887 million this year, there were no strategies to boost the coffers in the state budget.

“The chief minister says this is the last budget he is tabling before an election. But it does not look like one, there is barely anything new and it is devoid of excitement,” Afif said when debating the 2022 supply bill.

Satees Muniandy (PH-Bagan Dalam) hit back, saying the reserves had to be used due to lower revenue and tax rebates because of the pandemic. He said low allocations from the federal government made matters worse.

Muhammad Faiz Fadzil (PH-Permatang Pasir) asked Afif what he thought about the federal government taking RM5 billion from the National Trust Fund to buy vaccines when RM3 billion had already been set aside for that purpose.

Afif then said the purchase was necessary to save the public from the pandemic. Then, Faiz started grilling Afif about the trust fund money used.

Deputy chief minister II P Ramasamy chimed in, saying: “Bossku has said the problem was with (Bersatu president) Muhyiddin Yassin”.

Afif then exclaimed that Ramasamy appeared to be a supporter of former prime minister Najib Razak, who is popularly known as Bossku. Afif said that as a principled man, he would not support “kleptocrats”.

Ramasamy then said he was merely quoting Najib, followed by a chorus of overlapping voices from the backbenchers.

Executive councillor Phee Boon Poh (PH-Sungai Puyu) then stood up, asking what Afif thought about the unfair allocations to non-Bumiputeras in the federal budget. Satees joined in, saying the allocations should be fair for all.

Afif replied that such matters should be raised in Parliament, saying he would look into it “when I get into Dewan Rakyat…maybe Permatang Pauh next term”, which only served to increase the temperature.

Permatang Pauh is the traditional seat of PKR president Anwar Ibrahim and is now held by his daughter Nurul Izzah.

Ramasamy said: “I will support you to contest in Permatang Pauh,” which saw the assembly break into laughter.

Afif kept riling the government bench, asking if the government had the “political will” to continue with mega-projects such as the undersea tunnel and reclamation projects as they were scandal-ridden and under a corruption probe.

He also said a court had heard that an MP had been dealing with a Penang state assemblyman at a hotel bar.

Deputy speaker Dr Amar Pritpal Abdullah told Afif to quit the topic as it was an ongoing court case. Afif refused. He then started reading a court story in the undersea tunnel case.

Executive councillor Jagdeep Singh Deo then stood up and started shouting, reminding Afif that it was sub judice.

Afif then withdrew his remark and went on with his speech, unperturbed. FMT

PKR defector stirs up hornet’s nest in Penang assembly

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