July 2, 2016
UMNO state seeks DAP’s demise for political reasons.
by Cmdr (rtd) S. Thayaparan
If you give me six sentences written by the most innocent of men, I will find something in them with which to hang them.”– Armand Jean du Plessis Richelieu
COMMENT: At first, I was pretty pissed. I am generally in an ornery mood when I began writing but more so now at the sight of Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng being carted off by the establishment, another in a long line of opposition personalities harassed by the UMNO state.
Then I read an email, an impassioned one – you could tell it was impassioned because the whole mail was in capital letters – by a DAP supporter who ended the mail with a question –” Even Though you are a critic of LGE do you think that LGE should take leave of absence?”
I was a bit surprised at that particular ending since I assumed all understood that my vitriol against the Umno establishment that I see as the clear and present danger, did not preclude criticism against the opposition establishment. Furthermore, as someone who is on record as saying that I think Guan Eng is someone who should be given a shot at being a prime minister even though he and his followers eschew the idea for so-called pragmatic reasons, I would be the last person who could be considered hostile to the man. That is partisan politics for you.
UMNO State’s Winning Captain
I remember the online opprobrium Ambiga Sreenavesan received when she advocated this option and Cynthia Gabriel of C4 who advocated the same and included “the Youth and Sports Ministry senior officer under investigation for alleged misappropriation of funds amounting to RM100 million should similarly be ordered to go on leave”.
When asked recently, former Bar President Ambiga Sreenevasan was reported as saying, “In view of this being an unusual case, she said the usual conventions cannot necessarily be applied.” I can understand this position. I can empathise with this position but ultimately because the democratic process has been undermined, what we can do is act by individual principle.
Then, of course, there’s DAP’s Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng’s questions to those asking for Guan Eng to take leave which are not really good questions since Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, even if he takes a leave of absence, would still be able to influence the legal and security apparatus beholden to him. There are many reasons why a politician accused of corruption should take a leave of absence until vindicated, but the fact that so far the DAP has not rung that bell, except when it involves BN politicians is predictable.
Of course as DAP’s Seri Delima assemblyperson RSN Rayer, directed at the activists and lawyers at the time, warned “the Malaysian Bar to be ‘cautious’ when commenting on the issue as some quarters may ‘take advantage’ of it”. Nobody, certainly not someone like me, would want to be on the same boat as most BN politicians and certainly not someone like Tunku Abdul Aziz Ibrahim who I have written about before, but yes, I think the Penang CM should take a leave of absence until these charges have been settled.
Now of course supporters are going to take offence at my stand. This is to be expected. Ambiga is right when she talks of the stratagem to force opposition leaders to take leave. However as long as Guan Eng does not take leave, it just provides further propaganda for the Umno state to attack the Penang administration with this issue and further stoke racial and political fires.
It’s much better for the opposition to demonstrate that even if their leaders are removed from the political chessboard, other personalities could step in the interim and run the state and the opposition machinery.
The problem with the opposition has always been that there has been too much investment in personality politics, which is why the Umno regime has been very effective in neutralising their political foes. This is the perfect opportunity for DAP leaders and the opposition to demonstrate that their – our – cause is more than just about one man. It is also the perfect opportunity for others to demonstrate their leadership capabilities.
While there are murmurs amongst certain opposition supporters that Guan Eng should be above reproach, that since his party and him have set the bar so high and knowing that his political adversaries watch his every move, that any hint of impropriety should be avoided. The majority, of course, shouts down these people.
Ahirudin Attan, (aka Rocky’s Bru), in wishing Guan Eng good luck – since he had a personal relationship with the man – said this while advancing the narrative of the similarities between this particular case and that of former Selangor menteri besar Mohamad Khir Toyo’s – “I believed this country of ours had a working justice system that must be allowed to proceed with as little hindrance as possible in order to let the truth prevail.”
I know Rocky and even though we are playing for different sides, I believe he is sincere when he wishes the best of luck to Guan Eng even if just in remembrance of past comradeship.
However, I do not have the same faith in our justice system as him. I believe that these charges are politically motivated. Ever since the by-elections, the hatred against the DAP has been ratcheted up by propaganda organs of the Umno state. This is why the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has been spinning for the Pahang mufti who advocated genocide against the DAP and non-Muslims. Apparently he has been misquoted but when his own clarifications make his intent clear, why bother arguing the point is beyond me.
Najib’s biggest blunder
The men hunting Lim Guan Eng are not interested in the truth. The men hunting him have a very specific agenda. From talking to some of my UMNO friends – and there are people in UMNO who think this is Najib’s biggest blunder since the 1MDB fiasco – certain themes emerge. The agenda of these men are as follows:
1. Tarnish the reputation of the chief minister of the state that has received accolades from the UMNO state’s own governmental agency thereby damaging the credibility of the government and collecting propaganda material to be used domestically and internationally against a politician who was once detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA).
2. Capitalising on what UMNO believes is a shift in Chinese voting patterns by damaging the “alternative” Chinese power structure. This is why the head honcho of the MCA is dispensing dollops of schadenfreude since the majority of the Chinese community have stood by in the past when DAP leaders were vilified and targeted by the UMNO state.
3. Furthering the narrative that we have an independent security and legal apparatus by linking the corruption scandal and subsequent legal consequences of Khir Toyo and the allegations against Guan Eng. This is why the rush to paint this as part of a larger unbiased crackdown on corruption in this country.
There is also a racial subtext here. That a Chinese politician is equally as corrupt as a Malay (?) politician. This is fodder for Malay language pro-establishment news outlets and the continuing sabotage of the Malay polity. Remember what veteran journalist A Kadir Jasin said?
4. That the DAP is hypocritical and racists in its reaction against allegations of corruption. Already propaganda organs have been disseminating the numerous public rhetorical blunders by DAP operatives and linking to DAP-friendly online sites where the most vile speech is used in defence of Guan Eng.
5. The outcome is inevitable. Former Law Minister Zaid Ibrahim was right when he implied that the fix is in. Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali is the man who cleared Najib of any wrongdoing but in the process inadvertently raised more questions on the scandal. Perhaps he is the wrong person to run this case for the UMNO state.
His confidence that he can win the state’s case is not a question of legal ingenuity but rather establishment manipulation, plain and simple.
Someone reminded me that where there is smoke there is fire but I am not interested in anything like that. Some would find fault in my thinking but this is of no concern to me. When I say that this is a politically motivated prosecution, this does not mean that I think Guan Eng is innocent or guilty. In a functional system, that would be for the courts to determine. What I mean is that UMNO wants to destroy Guan Eng and the DAP for political reasons.
What I do know is that when the system turns a blind eye against the biggest corruption scandal this country has witnessed, then I say that every single other case of corruption – no matter how small or big or the personalities involved – is irrelevant. There are no laws that demand fidelity. There is only pantomime.
Four months ago, Rayer warned some folks they “should not fall into BN’s trap”.This should have been directed at the opposition.
S THAYAPARAN is Commander (Rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy.