Opinion

Open season on Lim Guan Eng

APRIL 6 — Umno has apparently declared “open season” on Lim Guan Eng. That they have been stalking their favourite target for years, even well before he came into prominence, is an open secret.

If they had not maligned, abused and subjected him to unremitting muck-raking and mudslinging, these Umno stormtroopers would have felt totally inadequate and that something was missing from their miserable existence.

They would, like their brown-shirted, fair-haired and blue-eyed Aryan cousins of the Third Reich, have felt that they were not fulfilling their historic destiny which is to cause as much mayhem as the police, in their accustomed manner and wisdom, would allow. It is all in the name of upholding “ketuanan Melayu”, and nothing should be allowed to stand in their way, not even the rule of law. Years of blatant abuse with impunity by Mahathir Mohamad who, in cahoots with his Umno henchmen, succeeded by means fair and foul, mainly foul, in distorting the systems of orderly governance as provided for under our constitutional arrangements.

Imputations of improper motives such as in the case of “the disappearing mosque land” and innuendos that any fair-minded Malaysian would regard as completely beyond the pale are standard fare to be dished out to the likes of Lim Guan Eng as and when it takes their fancy. What is grotesquely ironic in all of this is that the driving force behind the campaign to “put the non-Malays in their place” is a bunch of bloody-minded, misguided “constitutional” Malays who have been manipulating the Malays for ages.

For all their professed Malayness I am told the majority speak Tamil at home. We are free to speak any language. However, those claiming to be Malays must not only practise Malay customs and traditions but also habitually speak the Malay language. That is what the Constitution says. But you have to give it to them: they know Malay weaknesses instinctively and are quick to exploit them.

But then, the Malay is an open book. I do not always see eye to eye with Mahathir, but reluctantly I agree with him when he says Malays have a short memory and this has worked to his advantage. Racist I am not; I am just against any form of hypocrisy, barefaced or otherwise.

I suppose it would be totally unrealistic to expect a party that is morally deficient in respect of civilised conduct to conform even to minimum universal ethical standards. Where then is Umno’s legitimacy to govern? They bleat or, more in keeping with the time in which we live, moo, “But we have the people’s mandate.” Buying the so-called people’s mandate with state funds certainly does not confer on Umno the right to lead this nation.

In a more open and democratic society, the rule of law would ensure that those lording over us and robbing us blind in the process would by now be repenting at leisure (and that is being charitable in assuming they have a conscience) in the blissful peace of a secure prison at Sungai Buloh. Under the current regime where corruption has been allowed to develop into a fine art form, a prison term for the corrupt is a contradiction of Umno’s sacrosanct political philosophy of no growth without bribery. Naturally all this is being sanctified in the name of Hidup Melayu with the right connections.

In the present political climate and mood of desperation, much in evidence in Umno circles, they will give a damn for public opinion. This is nothing new to them as they have always treated public opinion with disdain. How else do we account for the unbridled excesses we see unfolding before our eyes with regular monotony? Guan Eng can always hope for the best but he knows deep inside as long as he continues to make a success of his stewardship of Penang, and as long as he has no truck with unethical practices, he will continue to be harassed and even physically threatened by Umno thugs.

Some of his detractors are saying that if he cannot stand the heat, he should get out of the kitchen. It is not the kitchen fire as we understand it that bothers Guan Eng. It is hell fire and brimstone that he is being forced to live through each day all because he is playing by a different, more open and accountable set of rules. Others are saying “The man doth protest too much.” When William Shakespeare wrote these words, he had not the faintest idea that there would be a time when protesting too much against political thuggery in undemocratic and corrupt Umno-led Malaysia would be completely justifiable.

It has become a matter of life and death. It is, in my view, more correct to say that Lim Guan Eng is agonising as the rest of us over the sorry state of affairs in our once fair land. Unlike most of us, Guan Eng is sticking his neck out to help bring about a better Malaysia for all. If he “doth protest too much”, it is his life and limb he is talking about and given what we saw on Padang Kota Lama during an anti-Lynas rally recently, wouldn’t you, if you were in his place, demand police protection? I know I would.

* Tunku Abdul Aziz is a former Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on the Establishment of the UN Ethics Office and was recently conferred by the University of Tasmania an honorary Doctor of Laws for his fight against corruption and promoting ethics in business and government.

* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.

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