For the first time in Malaysian history, candidates who are facing court charges have been selected for election in GE15. They are Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi for the Bagan Datok seat, Pakatan Harapan chairman and PKR president Anwar Ibrahim for Tambun, DAP chairman Lim Guan Eng for Bagan, Muda president Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman for Muar and Sungai Besar Umno division chief Jamal Yunos for Sungai Besar. Adding to the list are Zahid’s court cluster cohorts in Umno.
Technically, they can claim that they have not yet been found guilty and therefore are innocent. However, Anwar was found guilty of a previous sodomy charge although pardoned. But, he still faces another sodomy charge that is yet to be disposed of. Hence, the question has to be raised as to why he is standing for election.
His case is no doubt not a criminal case like Lim’s, Zahid’s and his court cluster’s and Syed Saddiq’s, but it is still a case that tarnishes his moral standing and until he is cleared in court, Anwar should not stand for election.
Anwar can argue that he was pardoned when PH was in government but that was before the new sodomy case was initiated. He may also argue that if Zahid can stand for election so can he. Well, Umno politicians are unscrupulous and will do anything to gain power. Is Anwar like them?
Jamal, unlike Umno’s court cluster, is in the middle of bankruptcy proceedings initiated by former Seputeh MP Teresa Kok who said in a news report today that he is likely to be declared bankrupt. He has stated that as long as he has yet to receive a bankruptcy order from the courts he is qualified to run in the polls.
Zahid and his court cluster, Lim and Syed Saddiq, who are facing criminal charges in court, should also sit out this general election until they are cleared by the courts.
Should all these candidates facing court cases be found guilty or declared a bankrupt, they would have to step down and by-elections would have to be called, which is a waste of taxpayers’ money. Their political futures too would be in question.
Zahid and his court cluster and Jamal, of course, can’t be expected to conduct themselves in any better way other than the way they have conducted themselves. But opposition candidates?
It is extremely disappointing that these opposition politicians who have always held the high moral ground with regard to jailed former prime minister Najib Razak’s financial muddling, have failed to apply the same standards for themselves.
Understandably, Anwar and Lim who are at the end of their political careers can go for broke. Make it or break it. But Syed Saddiq, 29, should not jeopardize his political career by standing for election while his criminal case is ongoing. It will come back to sully his chances for a controversy-free political future.
Nobody expects Zahid, the court cluster or Jamal to set the example and pull out from the elections, being from a corrupt party, but more is expected of Anwar, Lim and Syed Saddiq unless, of course, their supporters have lowered their expectations quite drastically in favour of political expediency!
Anwar and Lim as veterans should set the example and not stand for election so that potential young, future leaders such as Syed Saddiq follow suit and step aside in order to keep their reputations intact.
The participation of the elder two in GE15 is as baffling as the silence they have maintained over the recent reports of alleged negotiations taking place between PH and Umno. The leaders of all the PH partners have noticeably not said a word on the issue.
Their silence can only mean guilt or a compromise to enable them to form a government with Umno. It is an option PH may be keeping open and one that must be made public.
Any kind of cooperation with Umno must be revealed to the voting public because, unlike all the other parties and coalitions, Umno is toxic and any alliance with it will only continue the political instability the country has been experiencing since the Sheraton Moves.
PH should not risk the political stability of the country in order to form a government with Umno with Anwar as prime minister.
Anwar recently appealed to fence-sitters to give PH a solid majority in GE15. He needs to understand that these fence-sitters are urbanites in the traditional opposition strongholds who gave their votes to PH to boot out Umno from the government in 2018. To expect them to support PH to bring Umno back into the government is to consider them fools. If, somehow, they are fooled to give their support, and after the elections find they have been played, PH can expect a defeat at their hands in subsequent elections just as they were punished in the Malacca and Johor state elections.