Will Guan Eng’s arrest cause voter swing to Opposition?

Wong-Chin-HuatPETALING JAYA: The arrest of Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng may make him a martyr in the eye of dissatisfied Malaysians.

Political analyst Wong Chin Huat said the way the arrest was conducted had only angered members of the public who believe the Government had gone too far in its effort to cripple voices of dissent.

“He is a chief minister, who by right, should be asked to appear in court, instead of having several officers coming to his office and taking him into custody overnight.

“Then suddenly, you have the Attorney-General (Mohamed Apandi Ali) himself, leading the prosecution team.

“These are among the things that may lead the public to believe that Lim is being unjustly persecuted,” the Penang Institute Fellow told FMT.

The arrest, which many Opposition leaders have labelled as a politically-motivated move, may also backfire against the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN), Wong said.

As a result, BN might see the sudden surge of public support it received in the recent twin by-elections swinging back to the Opposition, he added.

“Many have criticised the move, which they see as a cynical attempt to undermine the Penang State Government. It also opened their eyes to the dangers posed by the current (Federal) Government, the arrogance, and their abuse of power.

“So even though some may not agree with the policies implemented in Penang, they will be in fear over what the Federal Government’s next move will be,” Wong said.

National Council of Professors’ Political, Security and International Affairs Cluster Head Prof Dr Mohamed Mustafa Ishak, on the other hand, said it was too early to gather the sentiment on the ground, or which side the voters were swinging towards.

After all, he said, the next General Election was still a couple of years away, not in the next few days.

“The public has to look at this case rationally, let the legal processes take place first. Once the trial commences, we will get to see and hear what actually happened.

“Malaysians can think, they can evaluate and once they hear what both the authorities and Lim have to say with regard to the case, then they will be able to make a fairer and a more informed judgement.

“But for now, I don’t think the voters are going to side with the Opposition just because of Lim’s arrest.”

Lim, who is also DAP secretary-general, and his former landlord, Phang Li Koon, were yesterday charged for their alleged involvement in the approval for the rezoning of agricultural land and the below-market-price purchase of a bungalow at Pinhorn Road in George Town. Both claimed trial.