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GEORGE TOWN, Nov 23 — Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow refuted today claims that he had labelled civil society leaders as the “new Opposition” for their critical views of his state administration.
Instead, he emphasised that he welcomes constructive criticism so long as they are fact-based.
“I have never labelled any NGOs as the ‘New Opposition’ nor mentioned that NGOs have taken the political Opposition’s place by being critical of the state’s infrastructure plan,” he said in a statement clarifying his speech during the Penan DAP convention last Sunday.
The first-term chief minister who succeeded Lim Guan Eng — now the finance minister — sought to deflect blame, indicating that he could have been misreported by the media.
“We cannot control how the news is reported in the media, but it is highly irresponsible to twist my statement and present doubts in an attempt to give a negative perception,” Chow said.
He said he is looking forward to working with the NGOs in the state, but will not accept blame for words he did not say.
Chow’s remarks come after Penang Forum steering committee member Khoo Salma told a news conference here yesterday that the civil society coalition was disheartened by the chief minister’s alleged hostile stance to their criticism on over-development in the land-strapped state.
In his speech last Sunday, Chow remarked that Penang NGOs have been critical of the state government due to its commitment to the Penang Transport Master Plan, and after two separate landslides that killed 20 construction workers.
“As such, the party is always mindful of our role in government and would perform our best to maintain the support and trust of the people,” he said then.