By P Ramasamy
Leaders of Barisan Nasional (BN) political parties are rejoicing in anticipation of Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng going to jail for corruption and abuse of power, but the Opposition is in no state of gloom.
Pakatan Harapan members have not only given their full and undivided support for Guan Eng to continue as chief minister, they have decided to embark on a major strategy to revitalise and reenergise the Opposition.
While the Citizens’ Declaration gave some impetus to the Opposition, and the removal of Prime Minister Najib Razak, it, however, remains sluggish and has somewhat lost its initial spark.
The politically motivated charges against Guan Eng have provided the spark to ignite the fledgling Opposition to take on the BN in the coming elections and beyond.
Given the politically motivated charges against Guan Eng, the prospect of him being returned as not guilty, with even the best defence team, remains rather remote.
The immediate focus is on the prosecution of Guan Eng, but the Opposition might have to go beyond Guan Eng — not to abandon him, but to make his prosecution the centre stage for demanding and pressing for far-reaching reforms.
The problem with the Citizens’ Declaration is not that it was not effective, but its singular focus on the removal of Najib detracted it from focusing on more fundamental issues such as the nature of governance, reform of institutions and the need to contain the fissiparous tendencies of ethnicity and religion.
Anwar Ibrahim was removed from the political scene on charges of sodomy, charges that would have been dismissed in any court of law under normal circumstances. But alas, in Malaysia he was prosecuted and found guilty.
Now, there is a strong possibility Guan Eng will be found guilty. This is the sole purpose of the charges – to remove Guan Eng from the political scene.
However, there are definite limits to the exercise of arbitrary power. Guan Eng might be found guilty, but all the powers at the disposal of Umno cannot change the growing perception that Guan Eng is a hero to the public.
The question before us now is to transform the political and arbitrary prosecution of Guan Eng into a national movement to strengthen and galvanise the Opposition in the country.
Anwar was the first ‘famous’ victim of Umno’s arbitrary exercise of power and Guan Eng is the second. The Opposition has to make both leaders their “centre stage” to embark on a movement to bring down BN.
The transformation has begun and it has to gather steam in the days, weeks and months ahead.
P Ramasamy is Deputy Chief Minister II of Penang.
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