What’s up with Janda Baik?

Janda Baik, an hour’s drive from the hustle and bustle of Kuala Lumpur, has landed a spot in Malaysia’s political rumour mill. (Bernama pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s rumour mill, long considered the incubator of unusual political news before it is finally confirmed as true, has been churning with claims that a senior politician was up to no good during the peak of the movement control order (MCO).

Many of the claims surrounding the rumour come from people known for their open dislike of the individual in question.

And one common name in blog posts and tweets over the last two weeks has been Janda Baik, a village located in the highlands of Pahang, just an hour’s drive from Kuala Lumpur.

It is a favourite spot for political retreats – Umno has a training base there where many a strategy was hatched in recent years – but it is generally sought after for its scenic hills and tranquil kampung setting, a perfect getaway from the madness of the city.

During the recent MCO, Janda Baik, like many holiday spots in the country, was abandoned, causing heavy losses for the scores of homestay and recreational facilities dotting the area.

Hishamuddin Rais

But it appears to have attracted attention from a different crowd, including political blogger Hishamuddin Rais who has been sending out cryptic messages about the countryside resort.

The former student activist who lived in exile for decades before returning to Malaysia in the 1990s is known for his highly cynical posts on his blog, Tukar Tiub.

But when contacted, the 69-year-old refused to elaborate on his “obsession” with Janda Baik.

What comments he did give were marked with his usual cryptic sarcasm and threw no light on the political gossip.

“I have no comment but if after Covid-19 has died down, you want to go for a holiday, I suggest Batu 8, Teluk Kemang in Port Dickson, or Janda Baik, which is more expensive than Port Dickson but closer to KL,” he told FMT.

He went on to state the significance of the Pahang countryside resort to Malaysia’s politics, recalling an Umno meeting in 2015 attended by Muhyiddin Yassin and Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, then senior ministers in Najib Razak’s Cabinet.

“It was here for the first time that Muhyiddin raised the issue of 1MDB in a speech.

“If Zahid had joined forces with Muhyiddin, they could have overthrown Najib. Muhyiddin would have become PM and Zahid DPM. This is the significance of Janda Baik,” Hishamuddin said between chuckles.

Details from other sources have been sketchy as well, and much remains unverified.

But one insider close to both Pakatan Harapan and Perikatan Nasional is convinced that something is brewing – and it has “nothing to do with the good widow”, he added, referencing the English translation of “janda baik”.

“This is always the case in Malaysia, especially when it comes to the future of politicians and political parties. It happened in the 80s, 90s and only recently in February when an entire government crumbled despite coming out strongly in the election,” said the source, who is also an MP with a key political party.

For now, Janda Baik will continue to be known for its breathtaking scenery and hilly retreats – unless, of course, rumours become too hot for the incubator to contain at an optimal temperature.

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