A month of strange politicking in Malaysia

While Malaysians breathe a new air of freedom and re-birth on May 9, 2018, taking tentative steps in the making of a New Malaysia, it was also a month of strange politicking by certain political forces whether of the previous incumbency or those who had hoped to be “kingmaker” to prop up the previous incumbents.

This is best illustrated by the news that the fallen Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, was setting up court as an alternative UMNO power centre by establishing an office because of a deluge of visitors from supporters, friends, UMNO members and UMNO leaders from across the country “to convey their good wishes, show support and ask for opinions on current affairs”.

There was not an ounce of compunction or penitence for the wrong he had wrought to Malaysia or the destruction he had done to UMNO/Barisan Nasional, unlike his cousin who announced yesterday that he was fully aware that the GE14 results signaled the need for drastic reforms in UMNO and that he will not be offering himself as a candidate for any position at the UMNO national elections at the end of this month or the more apocalyptic scenario of middle-rung UMNO leaders likening UMNO’s present situation as like a “sunken ship” that sorely needed a new captain to salvage it and chart a new course.

On the contrary, Najib was on the offensive and appeared in the public arena more often than when he was Prime Minister, complaining that the Pakatan Harapan government was trying to erase his legacy.

Will Najib ever acknowledge that the legacy of his nine years as the sixth Prime Minister of Malaysia was the worst of all Prime Ministers of Malaysia - one of infamy, ignominy and iniquity of the 1MDB international money-laundering scandal which debased the Malaysian Dream of being “a beacon of light in a difficult and distracted world” into a global kleptocracy and kakistocracy?

UMNO leaders, including the Acting UMNO President, seemed to have disappeared from the public arena, leaving the field to Najib and a mysterious outfit, the faceless and nameless UMNO Strategic Communications Unit which emerged after the May 9 electoral disaster of UMNO/BN - raising questions whether it was camouflage or proxy for Najib’s propaganda, reminiscent of the “1MDB fund units” obsession of 1MDB CEO, Arul Kanda Kandasamy before the 14GE.

Although Najib has accepted responsibility for UMNO’s electoral disaster and resigned as UMNO President, he continued to live in a bubble, blaming slander as the cause of UMNO/BN’s defeat.

What is even more shocking is that the present UMNO leadership seems to be equally deep in this bubble of delusion and denial, with the Acting UMNO President Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi taking courage from other countries where long-time parties which had been defeated managed to make a comeback, but refusing to admit that it was UMNO/BN which was responsible for the most vicious and irresponsible electoral campaign of the politics of race, religion, hate, fear and lies.

The UMNO General Assemblies at the end of this month is a battle for the soul of UMNO.

As the Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad told Zahid when the Acting UMNO President called on him, UMNO had betrayed the Malays with UMNO leaders focused on self-gratification – why UMNO is hated now because it has deviated from its noble cause.

Will the UMNO General Assemblies at the end of this month repudiate and renounce the “1MDB and global kleptocratic” legacy of Najib or will it defend and justify it?

Will Najib establish an alternative UMNO centre of power and continue to pull the strings from behind?

On the eve of the 14th General Election, Najib repeated for the umpteenth time the Big Lie that the 14th General Election is a battle between the UMNO-led Barisan Nasional and the DAP-led Pakatan Harapan, that Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was being paraded as the leader and icon of the opposition which was just a charade as the DAP and I were the real power behind the scene.

Would Najib own up that he was disseminating downright lies, fake news and false information during the general election campaign, and will UMNO General Assemblies later this month commit themselves to clean, honest and moral politics and total repudiation from such vicious and irresponsible politics of race, religion, hate, fear and lies?

There are signs that those who had hoped to be kingmaker in a hung Parliament in the 14GE to prop up a kleptoratic Prime Minister are now perpetrating the politics of race, religion, hate, fear and lies.

Just as good sense had prevailed on May 9, 2018 despite the most vicious and irresponsible campaign of politics of race, religion, fear, hate and lies, I am hopeful that more Malaysians can transcend ethnic, religious and cultural differences to come together as Malaysians to fulfill the Malaysian Dream to be “a beacon of light in a difficult and distracted world”.

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Iskandar Puteri