As political fatigue sets in, DAP’s Chin Tong moots ways to stop ‘court cluster’ comeback in GE15

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DAP’s Liew Chin Tong speaks during a press conference in Johor Baru March 9, 2022. ― Picture by Hari Anggara
DAP’s Liew Chin Tong speaks during a press conference in Johor Baru March 9, 2022. ― Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, April 24 — DAP lawmaker Liew Chin Tong today called for unity among all political forces that want to block the return to power of the Umno faction led by leaders facing corruption charges.

Even as he acknowledged “a sense of hopelessness” among many Opposition members and supporters, the Perling assemblyman pushed for Pakatan Harapan (PH), members of the Perikatan Nasional (PN) pact and even those in Umno opposed to its on-trial president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, to align for a common reform agenda that would prevent corrupt leaders from exploiting loopholes in the democratic system.

Liew suggested these forces can still collaborate despite their political enmity, citing the bipartisan cooperation for the anti-party hopping Bill.

“The point is politics is fluid.

“Given the bad blood in the past, dwelling on whether or not Pakatan Harapan should work with Perikatan Nasional during the election gets us nowhere,” the Johor Opposition leader said in a posting on his Facebook page.

“What is more important now is for all political forces against the Court Cluster, including Umno leaders who do not want to see the return of Najib and Zahid, to work out a set of democratic rules that would be upheld regardless of the political fluidity.

“To ensure fair elections, and fair processes governing the formation of government on election night if no single party has an outright majority,” he added.

The rallying call was made amid public disagreement between PH leaders about working in a broader coalition with political blocs comprising former Umno members.

Some in PH — the coalition consisting of PKR, DAP, Amanah and Sabah-based Upko — have voiced their support for an electoral alliance similar to the arrangement that handed them their maiden electoral win in 2018.

PH is joined by PN and a group of Umno leaders who are rumoured to be against an early general election.

Zahid and his predecessor, former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, are said to be the main engineers pushing for the 15th general election to be held this year, purportedly as a way to influence the outcome of their corruption trials.

The 14th Parliament is only due for automatic dissolution on July 16, 2023.

Zahid is on trial for 47 bribery, money laundering and criminal breach of trust charges involving funds for charity organisation Yayasan Akalbudi that he founded. He has also been charged with bribery over a visa system contract. Both court cases amount to RM2.7 billion.

Najib has been convicted of multiple graft and money laundering charges relating to the embezzlement of RM42 million from SRC International, a former 1MDB subsidiary but is appealing the case. He is still on trial for embezzling over RM2 billion of money from government-owned 1MDB and tampering with a government audit report on the sovereign investment firm.

Liew suggested that Najib and Zahid will be the clear beneficiaries of a snap general election, but voters and the pro-reform forces still wield the key to enact laws that could prevent them from wresting control.

Among them are rules that would make elections fair, which the DAP leader said could block the concentration of power in the hands of any single party and prevent abuse.

Liew alleged Zahid and Najib were behind the power-play that ousted PN prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

He claimed that despite leading a group of just 15 MPs, Najib and Zahid were able to engineer “one of the greatest political heists” to restore Umno as the head of government.

“With Zahid still at helm in Umno, he could decide on who would be Umno candidates thus eliminating the internal opponents of the Court Cluster.

“Najib and Zahid hope Umno and Barisan Nasional will win handsomely, and with the return of a BN government, they can finally walk free from prison,” he said.

“All political forces against the Court Cluster should talk, not about who will contest what seats in the general election, but about how to use the remaining time of this parliamentary term to set rules,” he added.

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