4th July 2016
COMMENT The plot thickens in the final lap towards GE14. If PAS is aiding Umno Baru to recapture Selangor, the arrest of the chief minister of Penang will be the precursor to the retaking of Penang by Umno Baru. These two moves are part of a bigger Umno Baru plan to regain control of Penang and Selangor, the most valuable jewels in the Malaysian crown, in GE14.
PAS’ role in the twin by-elections was crucial. Its hudud bill caused uproar and drove people towards the devil they know, Umno Baru. What choice did they have? PAS and hudud? The untested Amanah, a splinter group from PAS?
Umno Baru conceded that they would need more work to recapture Penang. So, why do you think that the Pahang mufti, Abdul Rahman Osman, stated that kafir harbi ought to be slain? Worse still, he equated DAP with kafir harbi, traditionally viewed as the people who oppose Islam.
The mufti’s remark was no coincidence. His motive was political, and delivering this message during Ramadan is sacrilegious. Gullible Muslims with closed minds had the message that DAP is kafir harbi etched in their heads for 10 days.
When the arrest warrant was issued for Lim Guan Eng, who is also the secretary-general of DAP, Umno Baru did not want the Muslims to support him; but they underestimated the rakyat’s intelligence.
The story about Lim Guan Eng is a story of triumph and tragedy. When he became chief minister, he dared to do the impossible and did away with the old Barisan Nasional work ethics.
Despite the controls of Putrajaya and the lack of federal government investment, Lim lifted Penang out of the economic doldrums, to make Penang greener, cleaner and less corrupt. Penang is now well-developed. It is richer and has become a hub for the arts. Penang has the highest amount of foreign direct investment, in Malaysia and is said to have the lowest unemployment rate in the nation.
Like other opposition politicians, Lim travels on budget airlines like AirAsia and not on private jets, or in first class on Malaysia Airlines.
Lim’s detractors blame him for making Penang into a mock Singapore or a mini-Hong Kong. They are also worried about over-development and the disregard for conservation and sustainable development. Whilst a few call him arrogant behind his back, others are more direct when they say that the party he leads stands for Developers Action Party, and not the Democratic Action Party. Perhaps, Lim’s success is also his downfall.
Nevertheless, his talks at locations overseas are attended by record crowds. He finds time to meet the audience and the scores of young people, eager to take selfies with him. The empire which he built in the Pearl of The Orient has its foundations in transparency and accountability.
Jail is not a new experience for Lim. In 1987, during the tenure of former PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad, he was jailed in Operation Lalang under the Internal Security Act (ISA). In 1994, he was jailed for sedition when he defended a Malay girl, the victim of an alleged statutory rape by a former chief minister of Malacca.
Following the same plot as the jailing of Anwar
Lim’s arrest for corruption follows the same plot as the jailing of Anwar Ibrahim. Only the naive will not realise that this is part of Umno Baru’s masterplan for GE14. ‘The Chosen One’ is feeling invigorated after the by-election successes. If cash and handouts had not been freely available in Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar, does anyone think Umno Baru would have won?
The death of PAS’ Tok Guru Nik Aziz Nik Mat, and the imprisonment of former opposition leader Anwar, appear to have unleashed a malevolent streak in PAS president Hadi Awang. Hadi is keen to move out of the shadow of the two men who were able to restrain him politically. When Hadi made a pact with Najib Abdul Razak, he did not care about the consequences of his actions.
PAS’ spiritual leader, Haron Din, has urged that Lim should leave, resign or be suspended from DAP. He cited the chairperson of the CIMB Group Holdings Bhd, Nazir Razak, who voluntarily took a leave of absence, despite not being charged.
The irony is that Haron, who some people allege is blessed with extra-sensory vision, and can ‘see’ ‘hantu Toyols’, could not see that Lim’s graft charge is piddly in comparison with Najib’s alleged billion-ringgit corruption scandal.
Lim has revealed the details of the transaction of the purchase of his bungalow, whereas Najib fudged the details of the money which appeared in his personal bank account, first claiming ignorance, and later saying that it was a donation from an allegedly mythical Saudi prince.
It would be true to say that Lim owes his success to the people of Penang. They dared to share his vision of the proper management of a city. They agreed that a clean attitude to work and governance can transform their city.
Will Lim receive a fair trial? His future may depend on the rakyat. The ball is now back in their court. They should not forget that Penang did not prosper in Umno Baru rule.
MARIAM MOKHTAR is a defender of the truth, the admiral-general of the Green Bean Army and president of the Perak Liberation Organisation (PLO). Blog, Twitter.