Tuesday, June 06, 2023

Sanusi’s extraordinary, dangerous land-grabbing gambit

Mariam Mokhtar

COMMENT | What will happen when the Philippines does a ‘Sanusi’ and tells Putrajaya that Sabah belongs to them, Brunei demands the return of huge areas of Sarawak and Sabah, and Thailand then lays claim to the northern states of Perlis, Kedah and Kelantan, and we inform Singapore to prepare to be absorbed back into Malaysia?

When will the madness started by Kedah Menteri Besar Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor stop? Where did he get his idea from?

The MB talks about rectifying the ‘distortion of history’. How far back in time is Sanusi prepared to dig? Will he accept that in the sixth century, Kedah was steeped in Buddhist and Hindu culture? Artefacts from the Bujang Valley confirm this, but ironically, Sanusi was happily demolishing temples and cancelling the Thaipusam holiday.

Last weekend, at Lima’23 in Langkawi, Sanusi donned the uniform of admiral of the Malaysian navy. Didn’t the former defence minister Mohamad Sabu ban politicians from wearing military uniforms and receiving honorary awards? Sanusi insults the serving men and women who worked hard and sacrificed much for the right and privilege of receiving their award and for wearing their uniform.

Dangerous precedent

However, Sanusi’s most outrageous act is to set a dangerous precedent with his claim that Penang belongs to Kedah. He wants the Federal Constitution amended to support his claim. He displays the arrogance of someone with little regard for the Constitution.

In his characteristic confrontational manner, he has refused to be silent over the Penang-belongs-to-Kedah matter and said that he would welcome any legal challenge and would only accept a court decision as the final solution.

Sanusi’s claim has little to do with projecting himself as some latter-day hero of Kedah trying to restore the lands it once lost. His bold claim is just a tactical gambit in readiness for the state elections due soon.

The MB is trying his best to master the art of distraction and use it as his secret weapon in the election. By employing the politics of confusion, he hopes to stir sentiments amongst the people of Kedah that only he, the modern-day Kedah wira, can restore the seized island of Penang and other territories that once belonged to Kedah.

He is also playing a dangerous game of comparing ‘them’ and ‘us’, of pitting the successful mainly Chinese islanders, against the rural majority Malay Kedahans. Indirectly, he is using the two Rs to confuse the people and cultivate enmity between Penangites and Kedahans.

What many people do not realise is that Sanusi is trying to distract all of us from the many issues which he has not been able to resolve such as flooding, illegal logging, illegal mining, water problems and environmental pollution.

As soon as he made his controversial claim of Penang belonging to Kedah, every politician dropped whatever they were doing and focused on the issue of Penang’s sovereignty. This is how Sanusi has buried bad news.

Issues in Kedah

Last February, and again in April, allegations of illegal mining of rare earth elements were again detected in the Bukit Enggang forest reserve.

Three months earlier, the theft of these metals had been reported and locals wondered if the state administration had actually given the company permission to mine, instead of just conducting research.

Villagers in the vicinity had seen lorries transporting various mining equipment to the forest reserve. They detected the presence of foreign workers. Why is mining allowed in forest reserves and environmentally sensitive areas?

Sanusi has also avoided the big question about the root cause and the frequency of flash floods in Kedah. The floods have been some of the worst the state has known.

Last year, the Baling floods caused destruction to property and livestock. Three lives were lost. Despite its severity, Sanusi dismissed the calls for a public commission of inquiry.

He has also avoided the question of preventive measures for rehabilitating the cleared lands which are to be found on the steep slopes of the forest.

Elsewhere in Kedah, water supply shortages cause hardship to many people. Sanusi was quick to pin the blame on the previous Pakatan Harapan administration.

Despite the federal government approving funding to upgrade water treatment plants and also replace old water pipes, Sanusi said the delay in the project was caused by the previous government’s decision to hire new consultants. In other words, he was not to be blamed as he had merely inherited the problem.

Water is not the only issue Sanusi must tackle, because the residents of Sungai Petani are plagued by heavy pollution from illegal waste recycling factories.

The rivers, soil and atmosphere are polluted by the illegal burning of waste, but the enforcement agencies appear clueless. Is waste managed according to government procedure?

With the encroachment of the seawater onto their fields, padi farmers suffer huge losses in their yields. However, Sanusi is fairly silent on helping solve the problem of rising sea levels.

The Penang-belongs-to-Kedah distraction is useful for distracting the public from important matters like the livelihood of the rice farmers.

More importantly, Sanusi’s distraction is to divert the electorate’s attention from the allegations of corruption, abuse of power, and money laundering by his coalition chairperson, Bersatu’s Muhyiddin Yassin.

MARIAM MOKHTAR is a defender of the truth, the admiral-general of the Green Bean Army, and the president of the Perak Liberation Organisation (PLO). Blog, Twitter.

No comments:

Post a Comment