LETTER | All's fair in love and war

Seah Eu Hen


LETTER | Abdul Manan Ismail, a two-term MP serving under the Paya Besar constituency in Pahang passed away two years ago at the age of 70 from a heart attack. He was from Umno and had served as an aide to former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak from 1986 to 2004 while the latter was still a minister. 

He was also the chairperson of the Malaysian Intellectual Property Corporation (MyIPO) from 2010 until his passing. He was actively involved in the Pahang community as a board member of Felcra and held various other positions in agricultural development and cooperatives. Abdul Manan was survived by his wife Rohzia Ahmad and six children.

By all accounts, Abdul Manan seemed like the kind of man who had spent most, if not all, of his life in servitude to the people. With most of the Umno leadership holding his character in high regard, it seemed that his legacy would have been well-preserved or even revered by those that come after him.

Except, in 2018, the watershed electoral victory of Pakatan Harapan happened giving rise to a series of asset freezing, investigations, and prosecutions against Umno leaders and veterans.

In Harapan's relentless pursuit of justice, it inevitably took on a scorched-earth policy leaving a wake of destruction that did not exclude Abdul Manan. At the height of all this, the funds that were held in his account was deemed to be related to 1MDB and despite his death, those funds were frozen in 2018 and subsequently forfeited to the government earlier in June this year.

His wife and children were not spared by Harapan either, as they were named as respondents in the 1MDB suits. It is sacrilegious in Islam to misappropriate the property of orphans and widows.

No love for Lim Guan Eng and Betty Chew?

Harapan will not have the last laugh as they have risked everything for a pyrrhic victory in Najib’s conviction. If anything, the conviction only entrenches the belief in the Malay nationalists that someone must pay for the fall of their own.

While former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad might be constantly reminding us like a broken record that Malays are easy to forget, those in Umno do not forget what was done to them. One must ask who better to be put on the chopping block than Lim Guan Eng, the leader of DAP, their favourite boogeyman?

As we fast forward to today, the former finance minister and his wife Betty Chew were charged in court for alleged abuse of power, soliciting bribes and money laundering on Aug 11. This comes after new investigations were opened by the MACC earlier this month which foreshadowed the bad omen to come for the Lim family.

Be that as it may, there seems to be an outpouring of support for the Lim family, especially from the Chinese community, with a whooping RM2.9 million raised in just four days and a slew of hashtags to show solidarity with Lim featuring prominently on mainstream and social media platforms. 

The video and photo of Lim and his wife embracing through tears and his personal statements about him as a father were no doubt a good PR strategy to garner more support from the public.

Too little too late

If there’s anything Harapan should do, they should have done so two years ago when they first took power. The two fatal mistakes that continue to haunt them today were their slow or rather inaction in reforming and separating the office of the attorney-general and public prosecutor into two distinct entities and their hastiness in dropping the charges levied against Lim when he was embroiled in the bungalow case to enable him to join the cabinet.

With Lim's ongoing trial, one might wonder what will happen to DAP as a party. The discord between the urban/elite faction and the rural/grassroots faction is rearing its ugly head once again, who will lead DAP should he be convicted? If so, will the ripple effect break an already shaky Harapan coalition?

Despite the doom and gloom, this might be an opportunity for members of the Harapan coalition to set aside their own agendas and get their act together to stand behind one of their own.

While on the other hand, Perikatan Nasional might have bigger fish to fry when it comes to the ongoing cases against their own, choosing their prime minister candidate, and the allocation of seats between Umno, PAS and Bersatu in the next general election.

One can only hope that the ongoing political turmoil will not divide the country even further on the back of the Covid-19 pandemic and the impending economic depression.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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