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Cold War 2 à la Malaysia

  • In an increasingly intense political power play where the truth is pulling away from us, the rakyat are but a disposable chess piece, the deals behind all the more prepared to betray us.

By KUIK CHENG KANG
Translated by DOMINIC LOH
Sin Chew Daily

Cold War 2 is a recent box office hit incorporating several important political elements in the election of Hong Kong's chief executive and the intervening forces behind the race.

Back to everyday life in Malaysia, what is taking place right before our eyes could be even more dramatic than the movie plot, and is in fact way more intriguing. Money laundering aside, it also entails power swaps, vicious rivalry between opposing camps, retaliatory actions, resignations, dismissals, forced retirements, transferrals and a whole lot more.

All of a sudden and out of the blue, the 1MDB issue has found itself lodged within the whirlpool of the country's relationships with Beijing and Washington. The conspiracy theory set off soon after US attorney-general Loretta Lynch named PM Najib's stepson Riza Aziz, business tycoon Jho Low and two others as being involved in laundering stolen 1MDB fund, at 11.30p.m. on July 20 Malaysian time. In the press conference, Lynch also mentioned a certain "Malaysian Official 1".

The conspiracy theorists have accused Washington of attempting to apply pressure on Najib for leaning towards Beijing, which many in the country have dismissed as unfounded.

When contacted, a senior official in Putrajaya averted my direct question, asking instead why Lynch chose to hold the media briefing soon after the tribunal's ruling on the South China Sea. The official subsequently shared with me some stories to prove Najib's intimate relationship with Chinese president Xi Jinping.

He also said Najib would go on a working visit to Beijing in October, with more cooperation projects expected to be announced during the trip.

The official went on to say that Najib was accorded VVIP treatment in China, and that Malaysia was probably Beijing's closest ally in Asean besides Cambodia, Laos and Thailand.

When Najib was mired in the 1MDB scandal, it was China that came to his rescue, buying up 1MDB's energy assets and sealing a landmark deal in Bandar Malaysia project, among others. In addition, China's automotive giant Geely has also emerged as one of the hottest contenders for Proton's shares while large sums of Chinese funds make their way into the country.

When the tribunal announced its decision on the South China Sea, Najib was reportedly overseas, but he called back to instruct cabinet ministers to refrain from making public comments on the matter, showing that he did appreciate the relationship with China.

Najib was unhappy with DOJ's high profile move, calling it unprecedented.

Sin Chew Daily carried the news on DOJ's asset seizure over five full pages. Close friends and readers asked whether we received any call from the authorities, and I told them we never worried about this as our reports were factually based on the DOJ media conference.

We are now entering an era of obscured media boundaries and ubiquitous media presence. We can no longer behave like an ostrich, pretending not to see or hear anything. Unfortunately, even as we live in a hyperconnected world, our editors still get occasional directives from the authorities to publish or not to publish certain news.

Thanks to 1MDB, Najib finds himself under siege, fighting desperately to extend his own political life. After several rounds of power swaps, Najib and his aides are now brimming with confidence. Some have said once Mahathir and Muhyiddin are out of Umno, they are like fishes taken out of the water, waiting to exhale their last breaths.

The upcoming Umno divisional meetings will offer a clue as to whether Najib will remain rock solid in his party.

It is also learned that Najib has instructed BN component parties to ready themselves for the general elections slated for the first quarter of next year.

The opposition must thank the United States for doing them a huge favor, a veritable "godsend" to fire up their onslaught against Najib, with a Bersih 5.0 rally in the pipeline. That said, all that we see now is that the opposition parties are in a state of disunity, totally devoid of that power unleashed during GE13. Najib et al, in the meantime, are planning their next moves to fight back.

In an increasingly intense political power play where the truth is pulling away from us, the rakyat are but a disposable chess piece, the deals behind all the more prepared to betray us. If you still believe in the sweet "people-first" promises, God bless you!

To save this country, it is imperative that we establish a common understanding on the preservation of the rule of law spirit and complete separation of the three branches of government in a bid to ward off undesirable political intervention.

 

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