Commentary Politics

New Malaysia’s first opposition rally failed to attract the numbers

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Zaidi Azmi
Written by Zaidi Azmi

July 9, 2018

A Youth’s Take – A column by Zaidi Azmi

IF the crowd was bigger, the first anti-government rally on Friday night in the so-called New Malaysia would have probably left a long-lasting impact but unfortunately for its organiser it did not.

In fact, the turnout at the rally was what most millennials would describe as ‘meh’. To the unfamiliar, meh is a turn of phrase used to depict something that didn’t quite live up to its hype.

A friendly and chatty officer from the Federal Reserve Unit who was stationed at the rally outside the Sogo department store on Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman estimated that the crowd did not even reach 100.

“Who calls for a rally on a Friday night? Umno should know that they’re not Pakatan Harapan. Their supporters are not those who would take out their rage on the streets… at least for now,” remarked the officer.

Nonetheless, it was commendable to see a high ranking leader from Umno being able to organise such a rally after Barisan Nasional’s unprecedented defeat at the May 9 polls which had rendered even some of the most veteran of its leaders listless.

And although their numbers were few, the argument raised during the rally was rather sensible, particularly on the government’s alleged vindictiveness against anyone related to former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

The rally’s leader, Datuk Lokman Noor Adam, the newly-elected Umno supreme council member, cited the freezing of the bank accounts of Najib’s cancer-stricken daughter and 10-month-old grandson as the prime examples of such vindictiveness.

Their accounts were among the 400 over accounts frozen by Bank Negara as per the decision of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) for being the conduits in which money from 1MDB was said to be laundered into.

“The MACC’s probe was almost entirely based on the US Department of Justice’s civil forfeiture claim and that particular document has never mentioned anything about Najib’s daughter and grandson’s bank accounts,” said Lokman.

Even more telling was Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad’s response to the mother of Najib’s grandson, Nooryana Najwa Najib, when the latter cried foul over the freezing her son’s account.

“My friends were not allowed to be acquainted with me, their accounts were also frozen. But we didn’t complain,” was the seemingly tit-for-tat retort of Mahathir who had maintained there was nothing personal about the freezing of the accounts.

His friends aside, perhaps the soon-to-be 93-year-old should also clarify if Najib had done the same thing to his grandsons and granddaughters when the latter was in power.

But frankly, the supposed witchhunt that Lokman had raised was not something new. In fact it was in tandem with what the more erudite critics of the government had been deducing since the first week of the Pakatan government.

The midnight police raid at Najib’s house on the eve of Ramadhan, the one-by-one ouster of heads of government-linked companies, the re-employment of Datuk Seri Shukri Abdull as MACC chief who in his first press conference sort of convinced others that Najib was guilty despite the fact that he had yet to begin probing the latter were among the tell-tale signs that helped reinforced the vindictive image of the government.

In the midst of all this DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang pointed out to his Pakatan allies not to be perceived by the public as embarking on a journey of vengeance, as those seeking revenge usually dig two graves.

While Mahathir may continue to reiterate that he isn’t out to settle whatever personal scores he has with Najib, the actions, tones and nuances of the government which he spearheads seem to suggest otherwise.

He talked a lot about not wanting to exact revenge on Najib, so much so that it sounds as if it was him that he is trying to convince, not the public.

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About the author

Zaidi Azmi

Zaidi Azmi

If Zaidi Azmi isn’t busy finding his way in the city, this 26-year-old northern kampung boy can be found struggling to make sense of the Malaysian political scene. Zaidi can be reached at [email protected]