Lim Guan Eng's arrest divides opinion along party lines

Ms Phang Li Koon, who sold the land on which Mr Lim's house stands, is accused of having business links with the state administration.
Ms Phang Li Koon, who sold the land on which Mr Lim's house stands, is accused of having business links with the state administration.

GEORGE TOWN • Is Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng guilty?

It was clear on social media yesterday how divided Malaysians were over this question as they digested the news of Mr Lim's arrest and the two corruption charges that loom over him.

The Democratic Action Party (DAP) secretary-general was yesterday arrested by plainclothes policemen and Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) officers, who escorted him from his 28th-storey government office in the Komtar tower.

Penang's popular leader is serving his second term, and showing the way forward with his so-called government of Competency, Accountability and Transparency (CAT).

Thus, it was a big surprise for many to see him being attacked since March by Umno leaders over the purchase of a bungalow, said to be bought below-market price at RM2.8 million (S$940,000), when similar units would allegedly be able to fetch RM6 million.

And then there were the accusations that the two-storey house, which sits on 10,000 sq ft of land, was sold by a businesswoman, Ms Phang Li Koon, who is said to have business dealings with Mr Lim's state administration.

To Mr Lim's fans, the attacks are a waste of time, when the detractors should be chasing up a huge scandal involving the RM2.6 billion said to be linked to Prime Minister Najib Razak, which the authorities have not dealt with.

"Indeed, sad news... RM2.6b run free and RM2.8 million, get hauled up by goons," wrote one Malaysiakini reader yesterday.

Others questioned why Mr Lim needed to be held overnight by MACC. Facebook user Daweena Gill, writing on Mr Lim's Facebook page, said: "Why must he be in the lock up...? He has nothing to hide and honestly, he is not the type to hide or run away".

To Umno leaders, the charges are comeuppance for Mr Lim, whose DAP is relentless in attacking the government on various issues.

Datuk Seri Abdul Rahman Dahlan, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department and one of Mr Lim's harshest critics, said: "Clearly, DAP's slogan of being the most clean political party in Malaysia does not hold water, post Lim Guan Eng's arrest by MACC today. Transparency and accountability must be practised, not preached."

Reme Ahmad

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 30, 2016, with the headline 'Lim Guan Eng's arrest divides opinion along party lines'. Print Edition | Subscribe