KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 22 — Putrajaya has allocated higher development funds for PAS-controlled Kelantan and Terrenganu compared to Penang, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said today in a rebuke to claims of spending bias for Pakatan Harapan (PH)-held states.
Lim said PAS deputy president Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man’s claim that Penang will receive RM1 billion in development fund of which only RM10 million will be channelled to develop the halal business sector was a “malicious lie” aimed at inciting racial sentiment.
“This allegation is very irresponsible and inaccurate,” the minister said in an official statement.
“If you look at Budget 2020 carefully you will see that the development allocation for Penang is RM979.5 million and not RM10,000 million while programmes or initiatives for the halal industry is RM125.2 million and not RM10 million,” he added.
Tuan Ibrahim had earlier this week said the Budget outlined by Lim was lopsided to favour of states controlled by PH, claiming the east coast states where PAS and its ally Umno are in power will receive far less.
He had also called for Lim to be the first minister to be sacked, after Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said a reshuffle of his Cabinet could happen soon.
In response, Lim said the federal government has allocated RM1.5 billion and RM1.2 billion for Kelantan and Terengganu respectively, while Penang’s allocation was a few hundred million ringgit less.
Tuan Ibrahim had used the allegation to justify his call for the prime minister to replace Lim, which the latter said was clearly racial politicking on PAS’s part.
“Tuan Ibrahim was obviously trying to play on (racial) sentiment when he asked that only I be sacked from the Cabinet,” his statement read.
“This demand is of course in line with PAS’s belief that non-Muslims should not be eligible to be a Cabinet minister that decides on policies, especially a post like finance minister or chief minister.”
Lim then suggested that PAS may have been emboldened to make the demand after PH’s defeat at the Tanjung Piai by-election, where significant Chinese support swung in Barisan Nasional’s favour.
“PAS is now bold enough to materialise this narrow policy and sentiment,” he said.
BN, now backed by PAS, won the November 16 parliamentary seat poll with an unprecendented landslide victory.
Both the constituency’s majority Malay and Chinese voters were seen firmly behind MCA’s Datuk Seri Wee Jeck Seng, a highly popular figure who has served the seat since the 90s.