Dangerous weeks ahead for Malaysia

Barisan Nasional spin doctors have been working overtime to create an impression that the DAP Secretary-General and Penang Chief Minister, Lim Guan Eng, has abused his power for personal gains. They are spreading the lie that Guan Eng had bought a house at discounted price in exchange for approving a piece of land in Taman Manggis, Penang to a company linked to the seller of his house. If that is not enough, attempts are made to compare the allegation with the case of former Selangor Menteri Besar, Khir Toyo, which is of a different nature altogether.

Barisan Nasional Strategic Communication Director and Minister of Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government, Abdul Rahman Dahlan, is probably the mastermind of the coordinated attacks in the past week. Such attacks also included Abdul Rahman’s uncouth way of breaking parliamentary norms on Wednesday’s Parliamentary sitting by using the word “bohong” (lies) against Guan Eng, thus abusing his parliamentary privileges to make unsubstantiated allegations aiming to destroy Guan Eng’s credibility.

Why are BN leaders and the mass media attacking Guan Eng now?

It actually has a lot to do with Datuk Seri Najib Razak. Malaysians are living dangerously in the weeks to come because Najib is becoming very insecure of his position, and it will be impacted by the coming Sarawak state election, as well as the recent Citizens’ Declaration campaign.

As for the Sarawak elections, most probably Barisan Nasional will retain the state. But the question is, at what price? Will it be a landslide victory, could it be a Pyrrhic win, or will Tan Sri Adenan Satem and his Sarawak BN suffered a black eye when the opposition garner more seats?

The outcome of the Sarawak state election is hugely important to Najib. Chief Minister Adenan is quite likely to dissolve the State Assembly in the coming week after Easter, an important holiday to many in Sarawak. He hopes to win some seats from the Opposition, especially from the DAP which had won 12 seats and PKR 3 in the 2011 state elections.

If the 72-year-old state Chief Minister can grab few seats from DAP and PKR, he can cement his rule in Sarawak while Najib can tell the country the voters accept him despite all the scandals. However, if the reverse happens, that is if DAP and PKR win a few more seats, this mean the writing is on the wall for Najib. Sarawak BN holds 25 parliamentary seats in the Parliament. If Sarawak BN loses a few seats to DAP due to the Najib factor (GST, poor economy, job losses and the scandals), Adenan will have to think twice in pledging his 25 Parliamentary seats to Najib.

Besides Sarawak, the grand gathering of the Citizen’s Declaration on 4th March saw for the first time in decades the convergence of opposing forces – Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Lim Kit Siang, Mohamad Sabu, Ambiga Sreenevasan, Azmin Ali, Hishamuddin Rais, Maria Chin, Muhyddin Yassin, Mukhriz Mahathir, and many more sitting together to sign the declaration to campaign for Najib’s removal, and to follow up with serious reforms.

The Prime Minister may put up a brave face but many Malaysians can see through and realise that Najib is under siege. Otherwise there would not be a need for the 148 UMNO division chiefs to declare open support for him or for Tengku Razaleigh to sign a declaration in support of him. Najib is now a “political dead man walking” who is hugely unpopular among the electorate. He is also battling coup attempts within UMNO.

So, where does Guan Eng feature in all these?

First, being a very popular Chief Minister of Penang helps improve the image of the Opposition. BN spin doctors believe that if you hurt Guan Eng as the symbol of strength, you may hurt the Opposition.

Second, Guan Eng’s image as a national Opposition leader has made him the number one target for BN spin doctors and cybertroopers. By damaging his reputation, BN propagandists believe they could halt the interest of the people, especially the Malays, to join or at least to support DAP and Pakatan Harapan.

Third, the Chief Minister of Penang was the most potent force for the Opposition in the 2011 Sarawak state election. To many voters in the last state election, it was a “CM (Taib Mahmud) versus CM (Guan Eng)”. Even in Sarawak, Guan Eng was and still is popular. Hence, the importance of the Sarawak elections.

These are the factors that made Abdul Rahman Dahlan and his supporters trying to find ways to destroy Guan Eng’s reputation, by any means necessary. Malaysians must beware of the dangerous weeks ahead in Malaysia.

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