Persatuan Patriot Kebangsaan (Patriot), an army veterans group, has criticised the presence of commando veterans donning their trademark green berets to support ex-prime minister Najib Abdul Razak when he hit the Johor polls campaign trail in Simpang Renggam last Sunday.
“There can never be anything more degrading, and demoralising to say the least, to witness these veteran commandos from the nation’s elite special forces gathering in unison with a convicted criminal who is labelled in various media reports (local and foreign) as a ‘national embarrassment’ and a ‘plundering idiot’,” said Patriot president Mohamed Arshad Raji.
Najib was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment and an RM210 million fine on July 28 last year over the misappropriation of funds belonging to SRC International Sdn Bhd, a former 1MDB subsidiary.
The Court of Appeal on Dec 7 last year upheld the guilty verdict. The court also dismissed Najib’s claim that he had acted out of “national interest” instead of calling it a “national embarrassment”.
Arshad said as veterans of an elite national security force who are highly trained and disciplined to defend the nation, they must uphold those principles.
“Patriot has no issue if veteran groups participate in political campaigns as we are a democratic nation.
“In fact, even though we may be retired soldiers or ex-servicemen and women, we can and must play a constructive role as responsible citizens in the shaping of our nation’s better political future and its stability.
“But to be seen attired with any form of accoutrements recognisable to the Armed Forces at such political campaign circuits – and more so when in the presence of an individual who has been convicted in court is not only improper and distasteful but critically in serious breach of the honourable stature of the vocation and the reputable status of the Armed Forces,” he said.
During a visit to Laman Simpang Renggam last Sunday, Najib was greeted by a large crowd, many clad in BN’s trademark blue colour.
Part of the crowd also included a small group of men in green berets who had approached Najib where they cheered with him.
Najib, who is the BN advisory board chairperson, has been on a whirlwind visit during the Johor polls, positioning himself as a leader who remains popular despite his corruption conviction.
He is presently appealing his conviction at the Federal Court.
Campaigning for the Johor polls kicked off on Feb 26. Johoreans will go to the polls on March 12. – Malaysiakini