THE natives of Australia are fully aware that when they throw their traditional weapon, boomerang at a prey or an enemy they ensure that they are not hit by the weapon that comes back to them.The “boomerang” metaphor fits the predicament faced by the top leadership of Bersatu. As of late, three leaders of the party have been arrested for corruption, money laundering, abuse of power and others. Of course, the latest to be arrested and charged is none other than former prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who is also the president of Bersatu. The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has cast its net wide, others in the Perikatan Nasional (PN) might be charged and arrested, including the “never do wrong”, “sanctimonious” PAS leaders. The “green wave” propelled by the PN coalition in the last general election was predicated on the use of corruption as a weapon against the UMNO leadership. This “boomerang” was the principal reason that UMNO lost Malay support, especially in the north and east of the country. As the state elections are fast approaching, the PN leadership is so sure that such a weapon could be used in these elections to make further inroads in the Malay heartland. But the unexpected happened. History is full of turns and twists, something that the PN coalition did not anticipate. Even if there were allegations floated about PN leaders, there was no concrete proof that they had indeed indulged in nefarious acts of corruption. They just thought that the unity government was just going for a big bluff without evidence. However, the government of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim despite its oscillations on some matters, was dead serious about stopping corruption in its tracks. It was just a matter of time before the MACC was emboldened to swing into action to make their arrests. The third arrest was the biggest; it was none other than the netting of Muhyiddin, who was charged and let out on a RM2 mil bail. Muhyiddin and his ardent supporters can claim that they are being punished by the Anwar government for political reasons. Evidence might be there. In the name of assisting Bumiputra businessmen to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, millions, if not billions of ringgits were channeled to Bumiputra companies. Whether they were the actual beneficiaries or not remains to be seen. In spite of that, millions if not billions of ringgit of taxpayer money were siphoned off through the middlemen to politicians in Bersatu. These illicit funds were heavily used in the last general elections to gain political support for Bersatu and PAS. Despite the use of corruption money to buy political support by PN, the leaders had the temerity to accuse UMNO leaders of corruption. It was the matter of corruption and the bad publicity provided by the PN that robbed UMNO of its crucial Malay support. What was thrown at UMNO, the “boomerang”, has now come full circle to hit and haunt the PN leaders. Muhyiddin after being charged said that the recent arrests will only further embolden the PN leaders to go for the political kill, meaning that whatever Malay support the present government has will vanish into thin air. I think that the “green wave” has been checkmated to some extent by the arrests of Bersatu leaders. It is still there. Anwar might be described as a populist PM without an effective political strategy, but in the nabbing of some of the Bersatu leaders, he has demonstrated effectiveness to show that he means business. Anwar might have demonstrated that only when the top leadership is clean, is it possible to move effectively against the scourge of corruption. — March 11, 2023
Prof Ramasamy Palanisamy is the state assemblyperson for Perai. He is also deputy chief minister II of Penang.
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.