Dennis Ignatius: Anwar has broken faith with the people of Malaysia

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There are simply not enough honest men and women left in our political system to make a difference.

Malaysians are outraged and rightly so. While the government hides behind the Pardons Board, feigns surprise and sheepishly asks Malaysians to respect the process, the people know that they’ve been played, betrayed and disrespected yet again. Our deepest hopes for a better nation have been sacrificed on the altar of one man’s personal political ambitions.

The people understand what the politicians can’t or won’t see – that the decision of the Pardons Board to half Najib’s sentence and reduce his fine has dealt a serious body blow to Malaysia’s justice system. And it has destroyed what’s left of public confidence in the government and its institutions. Malaysia is now a darker, more cynical, less hopeful place because of it.

Remember that Najib was actually sentenced to a total of 72 years imprisonment for his crimes which included 7 counts of criminal breach of trust, money laundering and abuse of power; concurrent sentencing reduced it to 12. Now, with time off for good behaviour, he could be out in a couple of years. If the Prime Minister cannot see how egregious that is, he’s not fit to lead our nation.

It is staggering too that a man who is still facing 4 counts of abuse of power and 21 counts of money laundering would even merit consideration by the Pardons Board. What has Najib – who has never acknowledged his guilt – done to deserve such favour? To offer leniency to a man with no remorse, with no regard for his criminality and offering no restitution for the billions that went missing under his watch is not just a perversion of the rule of law, it’s downright immoral.

Only the most obtuse will accept the government’s narrative that the normal process was followed. It stinks and they know it; that’s why they were so sneaky about informing the public.

The Prime Minister can pretend all he wants that he’s not involved but his fingerprints are all over this. It’s politics at its worst. Not for no reason did UMNO express gratitude to him for his efforts to expedite the hearing and have Najib’s sentence halved . [“Umno leader thanks PM, Zahid for Najib’s ‘early’ pardon hearing” |FMT |03 February 2024]

Bernama

The courts did their job without fear or favour; the politicians could not find the courage or the conviction to do the same. One prime minister (Najib) brought shame upon the nation with the 1MDB scandal; another prime minister (Anwar) has disgraced us all by putting politics before justice. We are now left with the bitter truth that there is no sense of fair play in our nation, no equal treatment before the law, at least as far as this government is concerned.

At the end of the day, this whole affair should also tell us something about the man we elected to the highest office in the land amidst so much hope. There’s no running away from the terrible truth now that he is far from the sincere and dedicated reformer he claims to be. And that is putting it mildly.

One thing is certain: after this, he will never be able to look Malaysians in the eye again and talk about how sincere he is about fighting corruption or about how committed he is to reform. The DNAA for Zahid Hamidi (47 charges dropped without explanation) was bad enough; the deal given to Najib has broken the camel’s back. If he can’t or won’t stand up for justice, he can’t be trusted with our hopes for a better Malaysia.

The DAP too deserves our contempt. Shame on Anthony Loke for parroting the discredited narrative that the government was not involved in any way. That he wants cool heads to prevail at a time when crooks are comforted, and justice is mocked tells us just how compromised the DAP has now become.

It’s time to say enough is enough and let the chips fall where they may. It’s time to accept that the system is too corrupt, too compromised to be salvaged. There are simply not enough honest men and women left in our political system to make a difference. It matters not who you elect, the results are always the same. – Dennis Ignatius