Lee’s open political stance an indictment of Malaysians’ lost moral compass

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Ordinary folks venerate Najib like a political saint.

By any account, tycoon Tan Sri Lee Kim Yew has all to lose and little to gain by coming out strongly against ex-Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak during the Johor elections campaigning.

There’s an unwritten rule in this country that the corporate sector maintains the veneer of political neutrality. Malaysia is not like developed countries like the United States where corporations openly contribute to political funds and stump for candidates.

In Malaysia, doing so would be suicidal, more so if the attacks are against political figures close to the establishment, such as the superstar Najib now is.

It’s an open secret that the Government will stop at nothing to make life difficult for corporate leaders who lean towards opponents of the incumbent top leaders, such as the Prime Minister or Finance Minister. Lee should know a thing or two about this.

In 2017, the Inland Revenue Board seized RM126 million of assets owned by Country Heights Holdings Bhd, the company where Lee was the executive chairman. This was over alleged unpaid taxes but Lee maintained it was due to his close association with Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who was then trying to oust Najib.

Another tycoon, Datuk Seri Stanley Thai also ended up in hot soup for openly attacking Barisan Nasional prior to the 13th general election. In 2017, Thai was sentenced to five years jail and a fine of RM5 million for insider trading. He was later acquitted following an appeal but this was after he apologised to Najib and the Government.

In other words, it doesn’t pay for businessmen to criticise the country’s leaders. In fact, many paid a hefty price for taking a public stance.

But if people like Lee, a life-long MCA member, is willing to risk it all by criticising Bossku, a senior and influential Umno leader, isn’t it a shame that lesser mortals like us are keeping quiet?

Lee has a point when he said in a letter to the Election Commission, that Najib, also known by his “Malu Apa Bossku?” moniker should not be allowed to campaign in the Johor polls.

Najib is a convict who’s got a 12-year jail sentence and a RM210 million fine hanging over his head for abuse of power and corruption. A senior judge described him as a “national embarrassment”. In the United States now, where the trial of Goldman Sachs banker Roger Ng is taking place, scandalous details are now being revealed, including about Najib being on the take for his role in the 1MDB affair.

And how did many ordinary Malaysians respond to these? We lined up to take selfies with him as though he’s a superstar. We call him “Bossku”, yet in the same breath, claim to abhor corruption. We openly yearned for his return as though he’s a political Messiah.

Have Malaysians lost our moral compass? Why is it that a tycoon like Lee who has so much more at stake, is willing to stick his neck out, while ordinary folks venerate Najib like a political saint?

Do we stand to lose millions of ringgit, to say nothing of lost business opportunities like Lee, if we speak out against Najib? Isn’t Lee’s open political stance an indictment of Malaysians’ lost moral compass?

Let’s hope I am wrong. But the way we treat the disgraced Najib now says a lot about our moral courage, or lack of it. We need to undo this and Johoreans can start by voting against BN, which is heavily reliant on Najib to reclaim its two-thirds majority in the state legislature.

And we know that like the recent Malacca election, the Johor poll is to help BN build up the momentum for the PM to call for the 15th general election. And it is after the GE that Najib hopes to make a comeback. We need to kill this momentum, starting with the Johor election, before the country is ruled by convicts.

The views expressed here are strictly those of The True Net reader Toh Lai Meng from Batu Pahat.