When Lim Guan Eng led Pakatan Rakyat to a resounding victory in Penang in 2008, he became the state’s chief minister (CM) and since then has impressed Penangites with his state government’s governance, policies and programmes, endearing himself to the locals. Pakatan Rakyat’s second election victory in 2013 further enhanced his image in the eyes of Penangites.
Lim Guan Eng became known, initially jokingly but subsequently quite credibly as a ‘tokong’ (deity) to his Penang political parish. In the eyes of most Penangites he could do no wrong. Thus he is politically invincible, iconic and idolised by Penangites. He has been seen as politically un-removable, with his favourable image and status quo as CM almost set in concrete.
His popularity is such that the Pakatan government (despite the absence of an original Pakatan partner but now foe) is seen as likely to hold office (majority rule) for several election terms.
The Gerakan Party and the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) in Penang have been in deep, very deep political trouble and I dare say, might have virtually given up hope for their respective futures in the face of such a formidable political god confronting their election prospects. To defeat Pakatan in Penang they must first defeat Lim Guan Eng. That would be a Sisyphean effort, but nonetheless he must be destroyed.
Well, how does one demolish such an iconic personality whose character, charisma and charm are so influential and deep set in the psyche of most Penangites? So what can his political opponents do with such an invincible foe, a virtual ‘tokong’? Let’s first take a wee detour into foreign history.
In 2001 in Afghanistan, the Talibans under its commander Mullah Mohmmad Omar decided to destroy the world heritage Buddha statues at Bamiyan as being idolatrous. The Talibans used a combination of artillery shelling, rockets, anti-tank mines at the base of the statues and implanted dynamites in bored holes in the statues to destroy the two sculptured icons.
Taliban information minister Qudratullah Jamal was reported to have frustratingly remarked, “This work of destruction is not as simple as people might think. You can’t knock down the statues by shelling as both are carved into a cliff; they are firmly attached to the mountain.”
But after several relentless weeks of dynamiting, rocketing and shelling, the Talibans finally achieved their destructive intent.
Well, we know that since Lim Guan Eng became CM ijn 2008, the shelling, rocketing, dynamiting, to wit, smearing and sniping of the Penang CM by his foes have been relentless, even culminating in a flabbergasting fabricated fib of Lim GE’s teenage son molesting a Chinese British girl, a chess grandmaster, by the name of Anya Sun Corke, someone whom Lim Junior had never seen, met or know of.
When contacted by the Malaysian media, Miss Sun said of the fabrication of sexual misconduct by Lim Junior that she was “shocked, dismayed and baffled” as to how her photo was used without her knowledge or consent.
“I have never met or even heard of any of the people involved. I have never been physically assaulted in any way. I have never been victimised in any way by this boy or his family.
“The only way in which my ‘modesty was outraged’ has been by the publication of my picture in connection with these scurrilous and unfounded rumours.”
But that was the outrageous slimy depth to which political detractors of Lim Guan Eng were prepared to sink down to just to destroy his near-impeccable character through a very wicked fabrication of his son’s so-called misdeeds.
The Taliban were not the first Islamists to commit those acts of vandalism at Bamiyan. Like the repetitive attempts to destroy the character of the Penang ‘tokong’, the sickening lies against Lim Guan Eng’s son were not the last to be shamelessly committed by Lim Guan Eng’s political foes.
To paraphrase Taliban information minister Qudratullah Jamal’s remarks about the attempts to destroy the Bamiyan statues, “This work of destruction of the Penang political ‘tokong’ that is Lim Guan Eng is not as simple as people might think. You can’t knock down the ‘tokong’ by mere fabrications as the integrity of his character is carved into the minds of most Penangites; thus firmly attached to their hearts as Bukit Bendera is to their beloved Island.”
But nonetheless, Tai-Koh (Big Brother) is impatient as the next general election approaches and he cannot afford to wait for his politically-moribund partners to resurrect themselves. Furthermore, the growing attraction of the DAP party led by Lim Guan Eng to young Malays have been worrying. The efforts to destroy Lim Guan Eng or at least his character and integrity, etched in stone as they might be, must continue and must be achieved, whatever it takes.
After several relentless weeks of dynamiting, rocketing and shelling the local demolition group believe they might have finally achieved their destructive intent. So Lim Guan Eng, long a primary target for his political opponents to politically assassinate after Anwar Ibrahim, has now been charged with corruption.
Old political smear campaign
With the massive government machinery behind his opponents, it was just a matter of time when (not if) he would be kowtim-ised. The old political smear campaign of flinging enough bovine dust around in the hope some may stick on to Lim Guan Eng has commenced.
Even if Lim is eventually found not guilty of whatever alleged crimes he was charged under, hopefully some blemishes will have been inflicted on his near-perfect image in Penang. If he can be found guilty, wow, that will be a bonus for BN.
But ironically, even as his foes hope Lim Guan Eng’s image will be in tatters as a result of the bungalow affair, very few Penangites will believe he is at all guilty of what he has been charged with, and that it is nothing more than a nasty dirty unscrupulous political plot to assassinate his good character. Such, too, has been the wicked image of a rotten Barisan Nasional in the eyes of most non-Malay Penangites.
As we hear so often, in politics perception is everything regardless of the truth and facts. And the perception regarding Lim Guan Eng is that he was once politically-assassinated by BN so that he had to serve time in prison for a noble cause while the culprit got away scot-free (many people still believe in this and have dismissed whatever SD involved with the case came about), and now he is once again being politically murdered because he is far too invincible in the eyes of his foes to be defeated in fair competition, and a dangerous attraction to young Malays.
His image as a ‘tokong’ is thus ironically further glorified through his pending second martyr-hood.
Now, let me reveal to all of a secret about Chinese and their ‘tokongs’. The Chinese do not hold their ‘tokongs’ (the divine ones, not the mortal political version) as omniscient or perfect. They are to the Chinese as the Greek Olympian gods had been to the ancient Greeks, with faults, follies, fickle-mindedness and their funny sides, though alas, not so sexually naughty as Zeus, Aphrodite and Dionysus have been known to be.
Thus Penangites will continue to favour Lim Guan Eng no matter what mud he might be dragged through during his court case such as the over-the-top RM1 million bail, a staggering amount perhaps to imply the Penang CM is a very corrupt person with a high flight risk .
This is the legal fact - Lim Guan Eng is innocent until proven guilty.
This will be the perception - Lim Guan Eng will still be innocent even if proven guilty.
And (sadly or padan muka for Gerakan and MCA), that’s the concretised political perception in Penang.
Indeed, there will be a lot of resentment against BN, in particular the Gerakan Party and MCA of Penang.
K TEMOC is a Penangite who enjoys being an independent blogger and loves to share his opinion on Malaysian and world affairs without fear or favour.