from: P. Ramasamy, via email
It seems the question of taking leave or resignation for those leaders charged for corruption seems not applicable to Malaysia. It is not that Malaysians do not consider such acts a noble requirement of a larger moral order, but the topsy turvy nature of the political scene and the prosecution system renders such acts as irrelevant.
After Lim Guan Eng had been charged and arrested on two counts of corruption in the High Court, there were cries for him to take leave or to resign from his post. Even when the MACC started investigation against Guan Eng, some well-known “moral crusaders” apparently friends of the opposition, asked Guan Eng to take leave, as it would be a proper moral and ethical thing to do.
After his recent arrest, BN political parties are insisting that Guan Eng should take leave until such time the court reaches a decision on the matter. However, some “moral crusaders” have changed their mindset and are even reluctant to ask Guan Eng to take leave simply because of the gross and naked nature of political victimisation that is taking place.
Since the entire episode of the MACC investigation and the decision to charge Guan Eng smacks of an attempt at political persecution and victimisation, those well-meaning “moral crusaders” are holding back their opinions in terms of asking him to take leave.
It is only proper and ethical to ask someone especially a high-ranking individual to take leave if he or she has been charged for a crime. For this to happen, the public must have confidence in the judicial system, the office of the AG and most importantly think that justice could be derived from the judicial process.
Alas, in Malaysia, more so after Najib has come to power, the public is fast losing confidence with not only those agencies involved in investigation and prosecution, but also whether the judicial system has the required independence to mete out justice fairly.
Given the erosion of public confidence in political governance, there is a belief that Guan Eng with his best defence team might not get a fair trial. It is not that the judges are not fair, but they are concerned about too much political interference that might impair justice.
And even if Guan Eng has all the facts that point in the direction of his innocence, it is altogether not clear if he will be able to gain his freedom.
The public is thinking that the charges against Guan Eng have nothing to do with whether he is guilty or not guilty. These charges are related to a concerted attempt to weaken, demoralise and defeat the opposition in the next General Election.
It is argued that Najib despite the scandals surrounding the 1MDB and the flow of funds into his accounts has been emboldened into this political adventurism of victimising opposition leaders. First it was Anwar Ibrahim and now it is Guan Eng. Wonder who will be next in line?
But strategic moves to weaken the opposition might not have the desired effects. Even if Guan Eng is found guilty and removed, there is no guarantee that Penang would fall into the hands of BN in the next election.
The question of asking Guan Eng to take leave or resign does not make sense in Malaysia simply because those who ought to take leave are still occupying the seats of higher office. Why should Guan Eng take leave if others involved in worse crimes and scandals are roaming the corridors of power in Putrajaya?
Why should the opposition leaders become the sacrificial lambs of the political machinations of Umno-BN? The whole prosecution against Guan Eng is political although couched in legal terms and references.
The best way to fight this persecution is to adopt a political methodology that would seek to convince the public that Guan Eng is a victim of political persecution and nothing else. His lawyers should defend him in the best possible manner when the matter comes for trial.
But ultimately, it should be politics in command!
Resignation or taking leave from office does not make any sense in the present political context of Malaysia. Unless and until the whole country returns to normality, it is pointless to talk about democracy in the country.
For normality to return, Najib has to go!
P Ramasamy is Deputy Chief Minister II of Penang.
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