Lim Guan Eng was sentenced to 18-month imprisonment under Sedition Act for his statement saying that the government failed to uphold justice after former Melaka Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Thamby Chik was found innocent in his statutory rape case.
Nevertheless, he served 12 months in prison and was released in 1999. However, he was disallowed from standing for election to public office for a period of 5 years. Thus, he skipped the 2004 General Election.
Subsequently, Lim made his political come back in 2008 General Election. He won and subsequently became the Chief Minister of Penang. He served the role for two terms, from 2008 to 2018. As the Chief Minister of Penang, Lim is famous for his ability of turning Penang state financial statement from deficit to surplus.
In Penang, there are two city councils, Majlis Bandaraya Pulau Pinang (MBPP) for the Penang island and Majlis Perbandaran Seberang Perai (MPSP) for the mainland Penang. Previously, Penang was led by Gerakan Koh Tsu Koon from 1990 until 2008. According to Jabatan Audit Negara, MPSP was going through financial deficit from 2000 to 2007. Under Lim leadership, MPSP financial statement turn from deficit (-RM5.1million in 2007) to surplus (RM3.02million in 2008).
Besides, the state government has been tabling deficit budget since 2011. Despite that, they still managed to have surplus in their financial statement until 2015. According to Lim, he managed to recover Penang deficit financial statement by fighting corruption through his Competency, Accountability and Transparency (CAT) principles.
In 2016, both MBPP and MPSP have deficit in their financial statement. MPSP have RM25.60 million deficit, which is fivefold more than their deficit in 2007. Meanwhile, MBPP have a deficit of RM1.41 million.
Lim had his fair share of criticisms in handling the state finance. His supporter applause for his ability to turn the state budget deficit to surplus in 2008 to 2016, while on another hand, he was accused of selling lands in Penang to make his annual financial statement look neat with a surplus balance. But if we were to look at the latest financial statement, was this true?