Will Anwar’s Ops Lalang past haunt him in ‘Kajang Move’?


Cindi Loo, The Ant Daily

MCA has pounced on Pakatan Rakyat de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s past role in the infamous Operasi Lalang for political momentum in the coming Kajang by-election.

MCA claims Anwar cannot be trusted to represent Malaysians as he was one of the main instigators of the 1987 Ops Lalang swoop when he was a member of the Barisan Nasional leadership.

MCA’s pre-contract president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai has been lambasted and labelled by critics as a leader of a “useless” and “weak” party, but he rightly pointed out that Anwar’s past role in national politics had led to more than 100 politicians and social activists detained under the now defunct Internal Security Act (ISA) in 1987.

Will the Ops Lalang crackdown seriously damage Anwar’s “Kajang Move” as he appeals to multiracial and urban voters, particularly the Chinese community, for support in the March 23 by-election?

MCA is likely to exploit Ops Lalang to dent Anwar’s popularity but that would obviously not be enough for victory. MCA still needs to convince the Kajang folk how MCA can serve the electorate effectively.

Although Anwar was in the federal government when then premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad launched the crackdown on politicians and activists, so was MCA.

Therefore, it would be a folly for MCA and BN to think that Ops Lalang could be used to influence voters to abandon Anwar and Pakatan.

After all, the power was then in the hands of Mahathir and Anwar was not even the Home Minister, who controls the police.

Twenty-seven years after the dark days of democracy which saw Mahathir wielding his iron fist, Anwar is today a different political icon in a vastly different voting populace.

If MCA does not play its cards right, the attempt to bring back the memories of Ops Lalang will only be a minor hindrance to Pakatan’s ‘Kajang Move’. Malaysians will see the attack as just a desperate attempt to tarnish Anwar’s reputation.

Liow also tried to appeal to the Chinese voters, who make up 41% of the Kajang electorate, by reminding them of Anwar’s role in the 1980s as Education Minister.

He alleged that Anwar did not make any contribution to Chinese education and, during his tenure as Education Minister, was insensitive to the needs of the Chinese schools and had deployed principals and senior assistants who could not converse in the Chinese language to vernacular primary schools.

That begs the question of “What did MCA do about it back then?” What has MCA delivered for Chinese education since Merdeka in 1957?

That episode led to a gathering organised by Dong Jiao Zong (United Chinese School Committees Association of Malaysia), which was attended by Chinese-based parties like MCA, DAP and Gerakan, social activists and Chinese educationists.

Soon after, Umno Youth organised a counter mass rally. Both rallies had speakers touching on racially provocative issues.

This led to the Ops Lalang detention of those involved in the rallies and the revocation of licences of several newspapers.

DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, who was detained at the age of 27, has vouched that Anwar was not directly involved in Ops Lalang as it was Mahathir who had signed the detention orders.

“I have faith with Anwar because Anwar had come to terms with the corruption and the wrongs committed by Umno and BN when he was an Umno leader. Even though he personally never committed the corrupt acts, he never denied that he was guilty by association,” he said in a statement.


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