Relative reality in Malaysian politics

Many had no idea about Chin Peng's 'relatives'!

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Malaysian politics has been entered a new realm in which the ‘relatives’ of prominent politicians play a defining role in competitive politics.

Such ‘relative politics’ has held sway even to the point of defying territorial sovereignty, diplomacy and political ideology.

Perikatan Nasional MP Siti Mastura Muhammad seems particularly obsessed with this aspect, driven by a noble desire to strengthen kinship among the people, especially politicians, by connecting the proverbial dots.

She recently trained her sights on former DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang, aiming to trace his family lineage of national and international significance

Like a true-blue sleuth, Mastura, who is Kepala Batas MP, uncovered a treasure trove of information. Lim was found to have distant cousins and relatives in politics.

Not only is Lim the father of Bagan MP Lim Guan Eng, he is also said to be a cousin of Singapore’s founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew and the late Malayan Communist Party leader Chin Peng, the nom de guerre of Ong Boon Hua.

These are luminaries whose family links transcend territorial borders and political ideology. Indeed, blood is thicker than water.

That’s not all. The Lim family is also said to be related to other DAP leaders, namely party secretary general Anthony Loke, Local Government Development Minister Nga Kor Ming, Beruas MP Ngeh Koo Ham and Seputeh MP Teresa Kok. All in the family.

It is envisaged that Mastura mentioned the late Lee alias Lim Kuan Yew because she wanted to assure Malaysians that the Malaysia-Singapore break-up in 1965 should not necessarily mean that Lim had consequently severed ties with his insular cousin. Surely, absence makes the heart grow fonder.

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We are thankful for Mastura’s detective work, as Lim is known to be a person who doesn’t like to flaunt the achievements of his relatives, even though these are nuggets of information.

To help the sceptics wrap their heads around this issue, it is by accident of fate that Lim’s two deceased cousins and other relatives were born with different clan names.

Besides, it doesn’t matter to the untrained eyes of non-Chinese people. The relatives are all still Chinese, particularly to Mastura, who, incidentally, is not a cousin of rights lawyer Siti Kasim, as mischievously claimed by some observers.

Without Mastura’s relentless intellectual pursuit, this insight into the Lim family would have been buried under the rubble of history, making us all the poorer in terms of our knowledge of Malaysian history of this magnitude.

Contrary to sinister insinuations, there’s no malice involved in Mastura’s embarking on the project to discover and dissect the Lim family connection.

Although she may earn credit for her painstaking work, we would like to think she’s not alone as there are others who are equally excited about finding out the family roots of politicians.

Unlike his peninsula cousin, Chin Peng, who had spent much of his adult life in the jungle, has had a certain effect on people in the country.

The notoriety many Malaysians inadvertently associate with Chin Peng has become a cause for concern among social media influencers.

Not only did they fear his ashes being buried in the country, they also worried that the reputation of certain Malaysian towns could be smudged by a heinous attempt to link them with the communist leader.

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As a result, names such as Gopeng, Yong Peng, Taiping and even Pangkor Island have popped out, much to the chagrin of the locals. These suggestions cannot be good for tourism and national security.

Similarly, there should also not be any attempt to associate our popular beverages with the communist figure. As any politician worth their salt will tell you, drinks and politics musn’t mix.

The local economy might face a slump if people are turned off Milo peng, kopi peng, and teh o peng. We can imagine the pangs of pain suffered by kopitiam owners.

Hopefully, the state of Malaysian politics and kinship spirit will improve relative to the kind of work undertaken by the likes of Mastura. – The Malaysian Insight

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.
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Dr Mustafa K Anuar, a longtime executive committee member and former honorary secretary of Aliran, is, co-editor of our newsletter. He obtained his PhD from City, University of London and is particularly interested in press freedom and freedom of expression issues. These days, he is a a senior journalist with an online media portal
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