By Sudhagaran Stanley
The Kedah menteri besar’s recent claim that Penang belongs to Kedah is uncalled for.
The federal government must take all steps to set the record straight.
As a Penang resident, I am deeply troubled by Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor’s remarks. The issue has the potential of triggering unnecessary conflict and friction between the people of Penang and Kedah and must be addressed immediately.
Former two-time Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s admission that he persuaded the former finance minister to approve an allocation of RM10m to the Kedah state government seems to suggest sinister motives on his part.
Why did the federal government need to increase the annual payment of RM10,000 to an extra allocation of RM10m? Mahathir needs to come clean on this!
We also need to know if the extra payment allocated was a payment for a ‘lease’ or was it a general development budget allocated to assist poor states?
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It is time the federal government reconsiders the annual RM10m payment to the Pas-led government of Kedah if it is framed as a lease repayment meant to top up the existing RM 10,000 annual payment. If so, then we need to stop this payment because it could be construed by people like Sanusi to further strengthen their sinister motives and make baseless claims that Penang belongs to Kedah.
We may have set a wrong precedent in increasing the payment to the Kedah state government on this basis, and this may backfire in the future and can even be used in court proceedings against the state.
Kedah state badly needs federal help economically. This help should be done by allocating various development and social improvement budgets in the way other poor states are assisted financially by the federal government.
It is erroneous to make a yearly lease repayment. The decision taken by Mahathir is incorrect and raises many doubts about his motives and should be rescinded.
How we term such a payment is of utmost importance, and this must be corrected now to prevent people like Sanusi from taking political advantage and creating unnecessary unrest between states.
K Sudhagaran Stanley is a Penang-based activist