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Guan Eng vs Nik Ali: A chronology

“State development officer Nik Ali Mat Yunus should be held responsible for the arches fiasco.”


Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, criticising State Development Officer (SDO) Nik Ali Mat Yunos following the Tourism Ministry’s decision to demolish two arches, costing RM150,000, at the Penang Botanical Gardens. The arches were erected in May 2010 as part of an expansion project, but had begun to tilt and were criticised by locals and non-governmental organisations.


Nik Ali (Source:

Lim said the arches came under the State Development Office, which is under the Prime Minister’s Office. It oversees federal government development projects in the state.

Lim said the Penang government had no say in the expansion project and thus it was the SDO who should account for the wasted expense. He also reportedly called Nik Ali “incompetent and unprofessional”, saying that the ministry’s decision to demolish the arches proved Nik Ali’s lack of professionalism. (Source: Lim angry over arches, theSun, 27 June 2010)

“The valley created by the sand theft activities could not have come about overnight.”

Penang state assembly speaker Datuk Abdul Halim Hussain, responding to allegations of sand theft in Balik Pulau, saying it had begun before the Pakatan Rakyat took over in 2008.

In defending the state government over this issue, Lim told the press that it was difficult for the state to probe this matter as the alleged theft was on federal land and came under the federal government’s Land and Mines Department. He reportedly accused Nik Ali of not cooperating with the state government on this issue, and of not being qualified to be SDO. (Source: Lim drags SDO into sand theft quarrel, The Star, 19 July 2010)

“The CM’s statement that the SDO was not competent, useless, not professional, cowardly and should resign immediately is an extremely rude statement and should not be hurled upon me by someone with the position of chief minister.”

“I am very disappointed with this statement because never have I heard any chief minister make such an accusation towards a civil servant, except Lim Guan Eng.”

Nik Ali, in a public outburst during a Penang Umno press conference held at its headquarters. Nik Ali said it was unbecoming for a chief minister to attack civil servants, and denied that he was responsible for the Botanical Garden arches or to monitor illegal sand-mining activities. (Source: “Guan Eng rude to interfere in the civil service, Malaysiakini, 19 July 2010)

“These officials get high pay and do nothing for the people but instead cause losses. We hope he (Nik Ali) can be more professional. You can run but you cannot hide. You should answer to the people of Penang.”

Lim, countering Nik Ali’s outburst, saying Nik Ali was criticised because he refused to be accountable and held responsible for his mistakes. (Source: Penang SDO loses his cool and lambasts Lim over criticisms, The Star, 20 July 2010)

“Lim should not have tarnished Nik Ali’s reputation in public. He has degraded the Chief Minister’s Office by lashing out at a federal officer.”

Penang Umno deputy chairperson Datuk Zainal Abidin Osman, criticising Lim for his remarks about Nik Ali. He said Nik Ali was a dedicated officer who worked seven days a week. He said Lim should have raised his grouses with the state secretary, or chief secretary to the government Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan. (Source: Penang Umno defends Nik Ali, The Star, 21 July 2010)

“These three issues, for which Nik Ali was blamed by the Penang chief minister, were not under the jurisdiction of the officer as the State Development Officer.”

Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan, speaking out in defence of Nik Ali, and saying that Lim’s allegations against Nik Ali were “excessive” and should not have been made in the open. (Source: Chief Secretary says Penang CM’s accusations excessive, The Malaysian Insider, 21 July 2010)

“He was at an Umno event, attacking me … unbecoming of a civil servant. I’ve already said time and again, the state cannot be monitoring over the federal government’s land. They should clean their own mess.

“He (Nik Ali) perhaps has political ambitions. I think becoming a politician would suit him better, he should resign as SDO and stand for elections next time around.”

Lim, when asked about Nik Ali’s remark that Lim had been rude in criticising a civil servant openly. (Source: Umno’s Selangor “sand trick” useless in Penang, says CM, The Malaysian Insider, 21 July 2010)

“If a civil servant in Penang is having a press conference with the (Penang) chief minister, who is also the DAP secretary-general, or when I have one with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who is also the Umno president, is that wrong?”

Sidek, responding to criticisms that Nik Ali was being partisan by giving a statement criticising Lim at a Penang Umno press conference. (Source: Chief Secretary defends Nik Ali, Lim hits back, The Star, 22 July 2010)

“We want him to retract his statement and tender a public apology to the chief minister. We do not need an SDO like Nik Ali in the state.”

Penang Deputy Chief Minister I Datuk Mansor Othman, calling for Nik Ali to apologise for calling Lim “rude” and attacking him in public. (Source: Apologise to Lim, SDO told, The Star, 22 July 2010)

“We found that he has done nothing wrong.”

“Nik Ali is an exemplary officer and there is no case of insubordination here.”

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, wading into the fray to defend Nik Ali. He said Nik Ali was entitled to respond after being openly criticised by Lim. He also accused Lim of acting out of “selfish political interest” and for considering Nik Ali a Barisan Nasional representative who was not able to carry out duties that favour Lim.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak also reportedly said in Sarawak that it was unacceptable for Lim to have degraded a federal officers’ honour in public. (Source: DPM backs Nik Ali, The Star, 23 July 2010)

“I got the message from both Najib and Muhyiddin. That they still want to defend Little Napoleons like Nik Ali. I thank them for the message. As for (former Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr) Koh (Tsu Koon), who was rejected by Penang voters in the last general elections, his KPI now is to follow and parrot what the prime minister says, so Koh has indeed fulfilled his KPI.”

Lim‘s full response on what he thought of Najib and Muhyiddin’s remarks. (Source: False reporting in Bernama, Lim Guan Eng’s blog, 24 July 2010)

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4 Responses to “Guan Eng vs Nik Ali: A chronology”

  1. Sean says:

    Public Issue Tracking System. Show us the data behind who is asked to do what and how long it takes them to make what kind of response. Name-calling just makes both sides look like incompetent buffoons.

  2. m.k. says:

    This may be just an example of what would happen when Pakatan takes over Putrajaya. The civil service which was moulded by BN over the years will continue to be loyal to BN. Hence, it would be difficult for the PR government to rule and as a consequence, the poor rakyat will suffer.

    Unless they become afraid of disciplinary action and suddenly pull up their socks. We just have to wait and see. Change we must and change we will see.

  3. Ellese A says:

    Can Nut Graph do a simple check on whose responsible for what. Is it also true that Lim was upset because he’s not invited to a function.

    This Lim and Nik Ali skirmish seems childish. What is Lim’s goal of making this public? There’s an ulterior motive by Lim. It doesn’t make sense. Selangor, Kedah and Kelantan face this issue too. Like Kelantan they gun the fed government and not the personality. Why is Lim gunning down personality rather than the institution? Something doesn’t add up for his outburst.

  4. neptunian says:


    Nik Ali cannot differentiate between his duty as a SDO, public servant and his Umno affliation. Political immaturity – that’s where the failure is.

    He could have made his outburst or defence anywhere, but he very clearly chose an Umno function to do so at. The message is clear: “I work for Umno”, not the Penang govt or the civil service, which is supposed to be apolitical.

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