KUALA LUMPUR, March 12 — Penang voters can show their displeasure with Kedah Menteri Besar Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor’s controversial remarks about their home state by punishing Perikatan Nasional and its component party PAS at the coming state election, DAP chairman Lim Guan Eng said today.
In the latest salvo against Sanusi’s continued bid to have the federal government pay more for the “lease” of Penang island from Kedah, the Air Putih assemblyman who is also Bagan MP said Penangites should hit PN and PAS where it will hurt them most — at the ballot box.
“On an individual level, questioning the sovereignty of Penang is similar to questioning the citizenship of a Malaysian that has been granted by the Federal Constitution,” he said in a statement.
Lim noted that the Penang state legislative assembly had unanimously voted on March 7 to censure Sanusi for doubting Penang’s sovereignty.
Among other things, the motion had described Sanusi as having made a provocative speech which was extremist in nature by doubting Penang’s sovereignty, and urged him to retract his speech and apologise to Penangites and Malaysians for being unneighbourly towards Penang and for insulting the Federal Constitution’s legitimacy.
The motion had also stressed Penang’s sovereignty originates from the Federal Constitution’s Article 1(2) which gives form and life and absolute legal power to Penang as one of the 13 states forming Malaysia, and expressed regret over Sanusi’s remarks which were made unprovoked regarding Penang’s sovereignty and described his comments as disputing the Federal Constitution’s legitimacy and indirectly the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s absolute powers to appoint Penang’s governor.
Highlighting that Sanusi had laughed off the Penang state assembly’s motion, Lim claimed that Sanusi’s alleged “open contempt” was no different from his alleged disregard and disrespect for the Federal Constitution.
“Sanusi forgets that the unanimous motion in the Penang State Assembly represents the aspirations of all Penangites, including Opposition supporters from Sanusi’s own party, that Sanusi withdraw and apologise for his extremist and seditious remarks.
“Sanusi should not try to confuse the issue of doubting Penang’s sovereignty with Kedah demanding higher land lease payments for Kedah from the Federal government.
“Sanusi is free to seek higher lease payments but why dispute Penang’s sovereignty in the process. Penang voters should punish Sanusi, PN and PAS for their attempted ‘subjugation’ of Penang in defiance of the Federal Constitution,” Lim said.
Sanusi had in the past called for the federal government to pay RM100 million to Kedah every year over Penang land, instead of the RM10 million the state receives every year since 2018.
National news agency Bernama had in 2015 previously reported that the Kedah sultanate had leased Penang island to the British in 1791 for 6,000 Spanish Dollars and Seberang Perai in 1800 for 4,000 Spanish Dollars, and that the federal government had continued to pay RM10,000 annually to Kedah after the states of then Malaya gained independence.
Penang’s Tanjong MP Ng Wei Aik had in 2017 however said that the Kedah government bid to claim ownership over Penang violates the Federal Constitution which recognises Penang as a state, asserting that Penang is no longer land leased from Kedah.
Based on the Dewan Rakyat’s Hansard records on August 8, 2018, then finance minister Lim had mentioned the Cabinet’s July 4, 2018 decision for the federal government to make a special contribution payment of RM10 million annually to the Kedah state government starting from 2018 and with this sum to be reviewed once every 10 years or at a suitable time.
Lim had said the special payment of RM10,000 to Kedah would at the same time be continued, and that such annual payment by the federal government was provided for under the Federal Constitution’s Article 167(7).