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Robert Kuok

In recent days, senior UMNO leaders have excoriated Robert Kuok, the Hong Kong-based Malaysian tycoon, over allegations by Raja Petra Kamarudin (RPK) that he was secretly scheming with the DAP to overthrow the government.

In the wake of RPK’s allegations, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak accused Kuok of being an ingrate and stressed that he would not have succeeded to the extent that he did without the support of the government [read UMNO].

Typically, other party leaders then saw it as open season on Kuok and quickly joined the fray.

The Tourism Minister, Nazri Aziz, in particular lambasted Kuok, calling him arrogant and boastful, a sissy and coward for hiding in Hong Kong while funding the DAP to topple the government. Nazri went on to dare Kuok to return home and contest the elections himself or give up his citizenship if he was not happy with the way things were going here. He also warned him not to meddle in Malaysian politics.

His outburst against Kuok was unbecoming of a senior minister and many were shocked by his behaviour.

Zero credibility

Rarely has there been such a disgraceful assault on a respected business leader who, as even Najib himself conceded, is “an inspiration” to other entrepreneurs.

And all this fury and venom simply on the basis of allegations made by a blogger with zero credibility, who earns his living as a merchant of smear and slander, and who himself is hiding out in London!

As usual, he offered not a scintilla of evidence to support his claims that Kuok financed the battles between Malay political factions or that he was rallying other Chinese business tycoons to help oust UMNO and install “a DAP-led Pakatan Harapan government.”

Anyone with a bit of common sense would have quickly dismissed such allegations as nothing more than gutter talk, but not UMNO leaders who seem to thrive on such drivel.

After all, what better doomsday scenario to leave floating around before GE14 than a plot by Chinese tycoons to help a “Chinese” political party (which has been consistently if unfairly typecast as anti-monarchy, anti-Malay and anti-Islam) seize power?

This is the kind of narrative that comes straight out of an UMNO general assembly and plays well with the gallery. Unsurprisingly, it was seen even by the normally submissive leaders of the MCA as an affront not just to Kuok but to the entire Chinese community. Indeed it was an affront to all Malaysians.

An unwarranted attack

Kuok, no doubt stung by the way UMNO leaders reacted to what was, after all, mere allegations, strenuously denied the accusations as did the DAP but, of course, by then the message that Malaysian Chinese are ungrateful, untrustworthy and a threat had been reinforced.

It is disgraceful that a Malaysian who has contributed so much to his country should be treated so callously and contemptuously on the basis of such preposterous allegations.

What was even more bizarre were the statements by both the Prime Minister’s office and Nazri. Instead of demanding that RPK back up his allegations with facts or retract them, they expressed satisfaction that Kuok had come forward to reiterate his loyalty, express his gratitude to the government and deny funding the DAP.

In the first place, no one should even be expected to dignify such garbage with a response. And whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty? Shame on them for pillorying an innocent man this way. At the very least, Kuok now deserves an apology for the unjustified and unwarranted way he was treated.

It is also outrageous that Malaysians can be arrested for insulting thin-skinned government leaders but government leaders are apparently free to insult and slander citizens like Kuok at will.

Furthermore, RPK also slandered the Attorney-General and his family in the same blog posting, suggesting that they too were part of Kuok’s conspiracy against UMNO but no one demanded that the AG explain himself. That only the references to Kuok and the DAP were singled out for attention speaks volumes in itself.

Gracious under fire 

In the end it was not Kuok’s reputation that was damaged but that of his accusers. Though he is influential and wealthy enough to be dismissive of the likes of Nazri, he was ever the gentleman, kind and gracious even under fire. The contrast could not have been more telling.

In any case, even if Kuok had financially supported the DAP, what is wrong with that? Nobody complained when he gave the MCA financial support? Aren’t Malaysians free to support whoever they wish? And if UMNO can insist that it is okay to receive funds from a foreign government, why can’t the DAP, or any other party, receive funds from a Malaysian citizen?

Under the circumstances, perhaps the more pertinent question is not who is funding the DAP but who is funding RPK?

Dennis Ignatius | Kuala Lumpur | 1st March 2018