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Feb 2, 2008

Barisan Nasional big guns roll into northern state to hand out goodies


PENANG: The big guns from the Barisan Nasional descended here yesterday, giving away millions of ringgit in aid to Chinese schools, the poor and non-governmental organisations.

The show of force, led by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi with several Cabinet ministers, is a clear indication that the state will be the main battleground in the coming general election.

Today, it will be the turn of the Opposition bigwigs, led by Parti Keadilan Rakyat de facto chief Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, to raise the election fever further.

Apart from Abdullah and senior Umno leaders, other Barisan Nasional big guns who were here yesterday included MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting and his deputy Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy.

Also here were MIC deputy president Datuk G. Palanivel and party secretary-general Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam.

The Mentris Besar of Perlis, Kedah, Perak – Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim, Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid and Datuk Seri Mohamad Tajol Rosli Ghazali – were also present.

Abdullah was here to attend a Bakti community service project opened by his wife, Datin Seri Jeanne Abdullah, at Pondok Puteri Gunung in Simpang Ampat, south Seberang Prai, in the afternoon.

Earlier, Second Finance Minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop met representatives from eight Indian NGOs in Seberang Jaya and presented each with RM10,000 for their activities.

Over on the island, where the population is predominantly Chinese, Ong and Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon, who is Gerakan acting president, delivered a big ang pow to the Chinese community from the Government.

Fifteen Chinese schools in the state will receive RM3.8mil in government aid, with SM Phor Tay getting a RM1mil boost for its new building in Sungai Dua.

Ong said that while Barisan component parties were sincere in cooperating with each other for the benefit of the people, DAP and Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR)’s relationship was one of convenience.

The Opposition had recently declared Penang as their frontline state in the elections.

Not wanting to be left out of the excitement, the Penang branch of Parti Keadilan Rakyat yesterday launched its “I Love Penang. I love Keadilan” campaign to woo Penang voters.

Penang PKR chief Datuk Zahrain Hashim said they wanted to “rescue” Penangites from a “non-performing” government and were offering Anwar in place of Dr Koh.

While yesterday was mostly a Barisan show, the Opposition big guns are gathering here this weekend.

Anwar has a packed schedule which includes an election dry run in Balik Pulau and a ceramah in Bayan Baru today.

DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng is expected to be back tomorrow after spending the early part of the week here, visiting markets and public places to make his presence felt.

Guan Eng, the son of Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang, is expected to lead DAP’s campaign in Penang.


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