I should be mightily offended by the latest social media offensive that I am angling to get into the Cabinet after being earlier bruited of becoming Prime Minister of Pakatan Harapan

I should be mightily offended by the latest social media offensive that I am angling to get into the Cabinet after being earlier bruited of becoming Prime Minister of the Pakatan Harapan government in Putrajaya if Pakatan Harapan should win the 14th General Election.

What a great letdown – from the pinnacle of the post of Prime Minister to a place in the Cabinet.

But I am not offended in the least, but was quite amused and tickled, as both these politically-motivated speculation are just simply untrue.

Just as I had never thought about being Prime Minister – most unthinkable after Pakatan Harapan had announced its agreement that if PH wins the 14th General Election, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad would be the Prime Minister, to be followed by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in mid-term - such politically-motivated rumours were still conjured, manufactured and peddled both before and after the 14th General Election, involving the highest personalities – reaching all the way to Sri Perdana previously and now the highest echelons of leadership in the Opposition.

I had said that I have no intention of being a Cabinet Minister, as there are more than sufficient young and idealistic DAP leaders to take up positions of responsibility in the Pakatan Harapan government – and my intention to stay out of the Cabinet remains unchanged.

Why then the recent spate of rumours and speculations that I wanted to be in the Cabinet and that the DAP’s defeat in the Cameron Highlands by-election is a setback to such a plan?

These are the perils of social media, when messages can be transmitted instantaneously, whether by Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsAp.

It is essential for all Malaysians to develop a cynical and sceptical attitude to the messages they receive, to put on the thinking cap to check on the veracity of the information they receive instantaneously if they are not to be the new serfs of the social media era, which has supplanted the traditional print and electronic media.

During the Cameron Highlands by-election, a message was zapped through WhatsApp, viz:

“Lim Kit Siang mengusulkan didlm Dewan Rakyat supaya perkataan Islam Dan Melayu digugurkan dlm Perlembagaan.”

Did those who receive this message pause to ask themselves whether it is true, and whether if so, why it had not been highlighted before?

During the by-election campaign, banners were put up all over Jelai, carrying the picture of the Pakatan Harapan candidate M. Manogaran, and claiming that he had said: “Saya yakin tanpa undi Orang Melayu dan Orang Asal, Pakatan boleh menang di Cameron Highland.”

Did the voters of Cameron Highlands in Jelai see through the deception and trickery of such mischievous banners?

Unless Malaysians, especially voters, develop a healthy attitude to check on the veracity of the messages they receive in the social media, the liars and the cheats are going to have a field day.

Such a heathy dose of skepticism about the veracity of messages will be a useful mechanism in an era where information travels at the speed of light.

For instance, when Ilham Centre and Penang Institute’s joint survey found that more than 60 percent of the Malays surveyed were not happy with the Pakatan Harapan government as they believed that non-Muslims were now in control of the government and that DAP was calling the shots in Putrajaya, one should ask whether this is correct reflection of the situation in the country when not even one per cent of non-Muslims in any survey will believe that non-Muslims are now in control of the government and that DAP is calling the shots in Putrajaya.

As a previous survey done in August last year, Pakatan Harapan was reported to have secured only 17 percent of Malay votes in 14th general election, does the survey mean that there is now an increasing support of the Malays for the Pakatan Harapan government - more than doubling of Malay support for the Pakatan Harapan government from the lowly 17% to over 40%?

Similarly, what is one to make of Umno Youth chief Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki's criticism of Johore DAP State Exco Member Sheikh Omar Sheikh Ali’s appointment to the Islamic Dakwah Foundation (Yadim) Board of Trustees – whether it is to be taken as the best proof to debunk the lies that the DAP is anti-Malay, anti-Islam and does not recognise Islam as the religion of the federation?

When the PAS President said that Muslims in Malaysia must vote for Muslim candidates even if they are corrupt, was he asked about his earlier contradictory statement when PAS was in Pakatan Harapan that it was haram to vote for UMNO and that it was the duty of every PAS member and supporter to vote for the DAP?

Or in the latest development on the out-of-court settlement of the PAS President’s defamation suit against whistleblower website Sarwak Report over an article on April 21, 2017 alleging that PAS received RM90 million to ensure the party's support for BN and Umno.

Sarawak Report editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown said yesterday that she was satisfied with the settlement in PAS' defamation suit, noting that the article over which she was sued remains unaltered and unretracted.

Does this mean that the PAS President had now publicly conceded that Sarawak Report was right in its allegation that PAS had received RM90 million to ensure the party’s support for BN and UMNO?

Lim Kit Siang MP for Iskandar Puteri