By Salahuddin Hisham
June 22, 2017
THE tense situation between Qatar and Saudi Arabia and three other Gulf state allies runs the risk in railroading the economic turnaround.
Until war actually breaks out, the Malaysian economy has turned around. The bitter pill of the National Transformation Program has begun to yield its fruit and macro-wise, a potential economic boom is in the offering.
Noticeably, the fake news, wild allegations, and doomsday predictions of a bankrupt and failed state has quietened. Political narrative by the political parties opposing the ruling party had to return to the nit picking and usual corruption allegations theme.
As far as the opposition, raids by MACC, Inland Revenue Department, KPDNKK, and Special Task Force on tycoons, and the allegedly corrupt may have indirectly affected them as indicated by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s rambling to defend Country Heights’s Tan Sri Lee Kim Yew for non-payment of past tax bill.
Though politics was initially slow in the early part of Ramadan as Muslims and Malaysians generally were adjusting to change in their daily routine, political exchanges and temperature raised towards the end.
Over the long Hari Raya holidays, there will be several days without newspapers. The subject of conversation over the holidays will likely be on the issues published in the last newspaper issue before the break.
It has powerful psy-op value and both sides will want to have their last word.
The second bite of the cherry by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) on 1MDB was suspected to be conveniently timed for this purpose.
The announcement by DOJ to make additional application to do a seizure and forfeiture using civil law raised questions. Did last year’s application by DOJ for the same using kleptocracy initiative fail for weakness or admissibility of evidence?
PPBM-led opposition political narrative was to highlight a side issue of a pink diamond that was not a clear reference to any specific allegation. It smells of DOJ politicising the court application with a dash of Malaysian politics.
The opposition game was to argue against statements issued by Attorney-General Tan Sri Apandi Ali and Prime Minister’s Press Secretary, Datuk Tengku Shariffuddin Tengku Ahmad. Just accuse, and play up the moral side and shame to the country.
Getting sued in court the better. But who will help pay for the legal fees?
The counter spin is the glaring lack of evidence, accusation of cowardice to name the PM and his wife, and the usual conspiracy theories twist.
However, the last para in the application and DOJ’s response to Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan’s vocal criticism is telling. DOJ’s application to the court is due to a private complainant, allegations could still be investigated, and need to be proven in the court of law.
The pro-opposition media seemed stunt and reported the DOJ response without any attempt to twist. This will be the cliffhanger till new development from either side surfaced after Hari Raya. Will Dr Mahathir finally lay out the proof of his allegations against Najib for the last two years?
Failing which, it will be a political disaster and major shame to end his political history.
Many political pundits suspect the timing of the DOJ announcement was to divert attention from the serious internal bickering within PPBM and PKR. Should another opposing faction within PPBM surface to voice dissatisfaction over the leadership, it will be a cliff hanger for the PPBM episode.
Also, there is an exchange among Pakatan Harapan coalition members over who should be their proposed PM candidate and the leadership and structure of PH. Though it has died down, it is another cliffhanger that could break up the coalition.
More so, there is increasing suspicion that PPBM is a temporary political party before they reunite with Umno after toppling Najib. Another expected dispute will be over seat allocation for the general election.
Despite the blockbuster from DOJ, it was hardly trending on the social media. Allegations of Dr Mahathir paying off the Clinton Foundation got more attention. Most trending was Tan Sri Isa Samad’s resignation from FGV, appointment as SPAD chairman and investigation by MACC.
Looks likely, last week’s subtle prediction that both Isa and Datuk Zakaria Arshad may get the boot could be true. Talk is the just resigned Malakoff Berhad’s CEO could be the next CEO. However, Zakaria announced the appointment of Tan Sri Shafee Abdullah as legal adviser for FGV.
That could be a cliffhanger but more likely the attention to FGV is the public’s insistence on nothing less that Isa and his wife’s hide.
Talking of top lawyer Shafee, the exposure by Rafizi of him receiving RM9.5 million of legal fee from allegedly SRC money has not died down. The public was told there was no legal fee paid for the successful prosecution of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim for his second sodomy case did not died down.
The timing of the allegation is not logically concurrent with the Court of Appeal and Federal Court dates. Fees are not completely paid before court proceeding.
However, PKR lawyer Latheefa Koya managed to get a High Court order for government to answer to the allegations. Latheefa is known for her media circus thus the cliff hanger is – did she get the court order on both the government and Shafee too?
Maybe it is not for both.
To add more hot sauce to the second DOJ charge, the suspected Dr Mahathir collaboration with DOJ could be linked to the latest development on Bank Negara Malaysia’s forex loss.
The Special Task Force led by Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan concluded there is a prima facie case, and possibility of facts hidden. In the Cabinet meeting yesterday, it is agreed a Royal Commission of Inquiry will be formed to uncover the truth on the 23-year mystery.
The long standing cliff hanger is did Mahathir give the go ahead for large-scale forex trading?
With many parties trying to get their last word for Hari Raya, the predictable psychological game may not get public attention. The top trending is Hari Raya.
To strengthen family ties, and friendship, a sensitive subject of politics should be avoided. To feel in the conversation for the festivities, talk about the 17-07-17 launch of the first line of the MRT.
Perhaps, it is not interesting enough to non-KLites. Then highlight the fact that it is a public transportation project that was delivered ahead of time and lower than projected cost.
It is cheaper than the YTL’s Express Rail Link from KL Sentral to KLIA. For the same distance, it is cheaper by many multiple and has more station stops.
Perhaps, mentioning YTL is deemed as political and invites concern for the demolition of Ampang Park, the first shopping complex in the country.
There is much sentimental attachment but the architecture is hardly iconic or of heritage value. The renovation and addition to the original building has turned the building into an eye sore in the midst of more modern and taller building surrounding it.
One does sympathise with the many strata owners that invested money to own lots there. But the interest of the public for an efficient public transportation has to take priority.
They should have been as pragmatic as UDA to willingly demolished Bukit Bintang Plaza and stand to profit more with a property standing over two rail lines. Instead they took MRT all the way to Federal Court. In the spirit of Hari Raya, let’s pray there is a mutually beneficial resolution offered by MRT.
To all readers to this humble column, we wish all Muslims a happy Salam Aidil Fitri and happy holidays to Malaysians of other faiths.
Drive carefully to those driving back to their kampong. And, hold off on the politics till after the celebration.