“We should not underestimate how much the people see.”
Former premier Najib Abdul Razak’s presence at the palace during recent events had raised eyebrows and elicited murmurs of disapproval.
After all, he was convicted of misappropriating RM42 million of SRC International funds, described as a national embarrassment and is also embroiled in another trial related to one of the biggest financial scandals in the world.
Whereas, the Kuala Lumpur High Court is scheduled to deliver its verdict on his wife Rosmah Mansor’s corruption case with regard to a solar hybrid energy project for rural schools in Sarawak on July 7.
Under these circumstances, Ambiga Sreenevasan said it was regrettable that the monarch Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah included the former premier in his guest list.
Refusing to bite her lip on the matter during an interview with Malaysiakini, she stressed: “If you are willing to publish it, I am willing to say it.”
Without mincing words, the former Malaysian Bar president contended that these episodes were “disrespectful to the courts”.
“I am given to understand that at another gathering, judges were apparently present, thus putting them in an embarrassing position.
“These are, after all, His Majesty’s judges,” she pointed out.
Conceding that Najib could be successful in overturning his conviction when the Federal Court hears his appeal, she, however, said: “But until that happens, you have to respect the court and the process.”
Recalling the words of Dr Mahathir Mohamad in one of his books that a conversation is needed about the rulers, Ambiga also cited the appointment of the Johor menteri besar following the state election in March.
“It defied democratic principles, convention and the state constitution,” she added.
Umno had campaigned that the then incumbent menteri besar Hasni Mohamed would retain the post in the run-up to the election.
However, Onn Hafiz Ghazi, who was speculated to be the state palace’s preferred candidate, was later sworn in as menteri besar.
Following this, Umno veteran Shahrir Samad vented his frustration in a Facebook post.
The former deputy minister said it was embarrassing that Hasni was not reappointed and Johor Umno could not do anything about it.
Meanwhile, Ambiga, who is also the former chairperson of the electoral reform movement Bersih, said the people are watching.
“We should not underestimate how much the people see.
“They underestimated the feelings of the people in the 14th general election. They did not see how upset they were.
“What does that tell you?
“People may remain silent (largely because of the Sedition Act), but you don’t know what they are thinking. They speak through the ballot box.
Ambiga also weighed in on the prospect of Najib and Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, another frequent visitor to the Jalan Duta Court Complex, making a political comeback.
A staunch critic of the former premier, DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang, had raised the alarm after Ferdinand Marcos Jr launched a successful social media campaign to whitewash his late father’s dictatorship to win the Philippines presidential election.
He warned that Najib, who has harnessed the influence of social media to his advantage, could engineer a similar form of revisionism.
Quizzed on this, Ambiga replied: “They have the means and money (like Ferdinand Marcos Jr) to do it. They can rewrite history. That is the fear.”
“But time is not on their side to completely change people’s minds, certainly not of those who are fed up and angry,” she added. – Malaysiakini