News Analysis

Penang chief Lim Guan Eng's graft charges add to troubles of Malaysia’s fragmented opposition

Lim Guan Eng, Chief Minister of Penang.
Lim Guan Eng, Chief Minister of Penang. PHOTO: THE BUSINESS TIMES

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia’s move to charge prominent opposition leader Lim Guan Eng for corruption on Thursday (June 30) is set to throw the country’s already fragmented opposition into disarray and show that Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak is fully in charge.
 
Political analysts also say that the graft charges against Mr Lim, who is the Chief Minister of the opposition-led Penang state, will further polarise Malaysians fatigued with the divisive brand of politics that has gripped the country in recent years.
 
“This will polarise society further. It will be between one group that believes that institutions are no longer impartial and the other that will support Najib and the BN no matter what,” said Ibrahim Suffian of the Merdeka Centre, referring to Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and the Barisan Nasional (National Front) coalition that he leads.
 

 
 
 

After more than a year of fighting political brushfires set off by the corruption fiasco at state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd, Mr Najib is slowly taking the upper hand in national politics by exposing deep rifts in the country’s ideologically diverse opposition alliance and securing key election victories by showering generous handouts to voters.
 
In the last 10 days, Mr Najib has turned the tables on his political foes by removing irritants in the civil service and cleaning up his ruling Umno party with the sacking of deputy president and former deputy premier Muhyiddin Yassin and Mukhriz Mahathir, the son of former strongman Mahathir Mohamad who was also the chief minister of the northern Kedah state.
 
Political analysts say that the charges against Mr Lim over the purchase of a bungalow home in Penang is designed to send a signal that Mr Najib is fully in charge.