By Rahim Zainuddin
The truth is that not every politician has an opportunity to leave behind a lasting legacy. In our beloved Malaysia, very few even know that they can.
For discerning Malaysians, the powers that be have effectively forfeited their chance, while those who ruled in the recent past may be seeing their legacies reversed in their lifetime.
Yet, for Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng the opportunity to leave a permanent imprint on the local political landscape is there for the taking. One wonders if he has seen it?
Recognised by many as a man of principle, Lim has overcome his fair share of political persecution to reach high office.
Detained under Operasi Lalang in 1987, Lim is best remembered for staunchly defending a minor whom he saw as the victim of statutory rape seven years later. His was an act of courage which saw him prosecuted, convicted and incarcerated, but also heralded by the masses.
After all, aren’t principles what endears a politician to the hearts of ordinary people?
Accused now of corruption, Lim faces his truest test yet.
Barely a year ago, Lim was himself part of a protest by Opposition MPs and civil society leaders demanding that Prime Minister Najib Razak take a leave of absence as accusations of corruption cried out for an investigation.
So why is Lim not heeding his own advice?
When asked whether he would step aside, Lim claimed that he would abide by the decision of his party.
Almost predictably, the DAP has declined to administer the medicine it previously prescribed, reasoning that Lim was the victim of selective prosecution.
In doing so, however, Lim and the DAP are telling Malaysians that the principles which they espouse are not those which they are prepared to live by.
With that, any hope which Malaysians may harbour of a better government if the opposition takes power look to be built on sand.
What a pity that would be.
By staying in office Lim not only surrenders the opportunity of a glorious return should he be acquitted but also the chance to leave with his principles intact even if convicted.
In short, he forgoes the chance to leave a lasting legacy of principled leadership which future generations can surely learn from.
Rahim Zainuddin is an FMT reader
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