Pakatan has lost truckloads of votes, yet Barisan will not get back their lost Malay voters.
How did Singapore-based Channel News Asia (CNA) know about imprisoned former Prime Minister Najib Razak’s fate two days before his successful royal pardon? Or how did local daily Utusan Malaysia get it wrong for reporting that the crook would be released immediately, before retracting and apologising, only for CNA to get it right – a reduction of jail sentence?
Connecting the dots, you don’t need a rocket scientist to tell that it was part of Anwar administration’s tactic to control the potential damage. Obviously, both CNA and Utusan got their tips from the same government sources. Utusan was tipped that Najib had received a full pardon. After the explosive news triggered widespread anger, CNA was tipped that it was only a partial pardon.
It doesn’t matter whether it was a full or partial pardon. Call it any name you like but giving a 50% discount on Najib’s original 12-year jail term, with 75% discount thrown in for his RM210 million fine as a bonus, was simply preposterous, ridiculous and outrageous. The amount of anger expressed in social media was sufficient to show a vertical drop in Anwar’s approval ratings.
Malaysians, shocked and disgusted with the Pardons Board’s results, were looking for someone to blame. Ultimately, the fingers were pointed at two very powerful men – King Sultan Abdullah, who chaired the board and has the final say in the pardon verdict, and Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, whose representatives were on the board and decided to pardon the world’s biggest crook.
Because Malay rulers (and there are nine of them) are off-limits to criticism, the Anwar-led unity government becomes the primary punching bag. And the prime minister deserves to be slammed for trying to insult the people’s intelligence. He should remember that today isn’t 30 years ago when the then-former deputy prime minister was part of the corrupt ruling Barisan Nasional government.
Back in the 1990s, Mahathir and Anwar could use the government-controlled news media to suppress unfavourable news and oppress opposition – even using the draconian Internal Security Act (ISA) to detain anyone without trial. Today, people could easily smell a rat and boldly express their disgust and displeasure on the internet. The government cannot cover-up the scandalous Najib’s pardon.
Yes, the special clemency awarded to Najib has become a new scandal that will come back to haunt both the Anwar-led Pakatan Harapan and Zahid-led Barisan Nasional coalitions in the next 16th General Election. The prime minister thought that people have short memory and in another four years, they will eventually “forget and forgive” what he had done this week.
However, if 1MDB is any indicator, it shows that people still despise the crooked Najib although the scandal – described by the United States Department of Justice as the “largest kleptocracy case to date” – first exploded in 2015. The fact that it could still ignite public uproar today is the clearest proof that people don’t easily forget, let alone forgive, even after almost 10 years.
Heck, people still remember how former dictator Mahathir Mohamad and his sidekick Daim Zainuddin enriched their own families back in the 1980s. It was already bad that UMNO president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was given a discharge not amounting to acquittal (DNAA), releasing him off the hook of all 47 corruption charges in Sept 2023 so that PM Anwar can cling to power.
It becomes worse that after spending so much time and resources to imprison Najib Razak, he too enjoys special privileges under Anwar’s watch. People understood why the PM had to “secretly” intervene to free Zahid. But people certainly don’t understand why Anwar had to not only secretly help reduce Najib’s jail term, but also lied about it. Worse, the premier had cooked up a freaking stupid story.
First, Anwar Ibrahim told all and sundry that there was no conflict of interest with his Prime Minister Office’s involvement with the Pardons Board. He then repetitively screamed till blue in the face that he will never compromise on the issue of corruption. The fake reformist tried to hoodwink the people that (former) King Sultan Abdullah does not need to listen to his advice in regard to royal pardons.
Yet, he revived the Federal Territories Ministry and appointed the useless former Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa to the portfolio, who in turn is a member of the Pardons Board. He then appointed a new friendly Attorney General, who is also a member of the board. Lying through his teeth, Anwar claims he was a not involved in the court decision to grant a DNNA for Zahid or the reduction of the sentence for Najib.
If indeed the PM was not involved at all – either directly or indirectly – how could he be so cocksure that the decision to slash Najib’s jail sentence in half was fair in the first place? Defending the crook as if he was his lawyer, the despicable Anwar demands that people respect the “unfair” decision in an apparent attempt to suppress criticism and freedom of speech.
Perhaps the Madani government of Prime Minister Anwar thought that by invoking the name of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (King), it will intimidate people into obedience and blindly accept his bullshit story as if this is North Korea. Every Tom, Dick and Harry knew the special relationship between Najib and the Sultanate of Pahang. Crucially, not only the decision was unfair, but has violated the rules.
Thanks to UMNO supreme council member Lokman Adam, who has the “IQ of a carrot”, both the 16th King Sultan Abdullah and the 10th Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim appeared to have perverted the justice – even closed both eyes to corruption – when the monarch decided to fast-track the pardon for fellow royal elite Najib despite the fact that the criminal did not qualify for a pardon hearing.
Exposing how the rules were deliberately breached, Lokman said – “We would like to thank the prime minister because, by right, Najib’s pardon petition can only be heard by the Pardons Board after going through one-third of his sentence. But due to efforts by the president and raised by the prime minister, Najib’s petition was heard ‘early’ by the 16th Yang di-Pertuan Agong”.
Going by the book, Najib, who began serving his prison term in August 2022, would need to serve one-third of his 12-year sentence (meaning 4 years) before his pardon petition can be considered. Meaning any type of pardon can only be granted in August 2026, not this month as he would have served only 17 months (less than 2 years). This fact alone shows there were hanky-panky in the whole process.
PM Anwar and pro-UMNO bloggers, propagandists and cyber troopers should get their story right before spinning and twisting Najib’s pardon as fair. There were already jokes that people were willing to spend vacation in prison for one year on behalf of Najib in exchange for RM50 million (which is the 75% discount on his original RM210 million fine that he must pay, failing which his new reduced 6-year jail term will increase by only 1 year).
The level of frustration and anger can be best described when Democratic Action Party (DAP) secretary-general Anthony Loke was slaughtered left, right and centre when he too tried to defend the indefensible – urging the public to remain calm whilst defending the seemingly crooked decision of the Pardons Board. Just because the decision is final and cannot be challenged in any court doesn’t mean people cannot oppose it.
Likewise, just because the previous monarch has returned to Pahang after he rushed to pardon Najib, it does not mean the people can forget or forgive the royal betrayal. When the same sultan sworn in traitor Muhyiddin in March 2020, the undemocratic coup caught the attention of the Guardian, a British daily newspaper that went as far as calling the political development a “Royal Coup”.
The explosive and damaging headlines suggested that the Malaysian monarch was somehow involved in returning the extremely corrupt UMNO political party, which until the May 2018 General Election, had ruled for 61 years since independence in 1957. The Guardian appeared to be questioning the legitimacy of Muhyiddin due to the monarch’s refusal to meet Mahathir, who had the crucial 114 MPs support to form a government.
But Najib’s royal pardon could continue even under the new King Sultan Ibrahim of Johor. The Times of UK splashed its headlines – “New King of Malaysia is half-British tycoon who ignored traffic fines”. Bloomberg made a conservative estimate that the Johor Sultanate is worth around US$5.7 billion, while Business Insider said the new billionaire King likes to show off his Ferraris and luxury motorbike collection.
The negative perception by the foreign press suggests that Najib could eventually be given a full pardon as he and the royal house, along with the prime minister, belong to the powerful elite society that has access to a different set of rules. The double standards and hypocrisy mean the ex-PM may get a better deal in another new royal pardon as UMNO continues to push for a full pardon.
None of the government officials, monarchs or the Pardons Board could explain, let alone justify the reduction of jail sentence for Najib whose 1MDB thievery saw taxpayers servicing 1MDB debts totalling RM24.53 billion from 2017 to 2023, and counting. Angry “rakyat marhaen” or ordinary people were just told to kiss Anwar’s ring, respect the King’s decision and suck it up – else the police will be unleashed to hunt them down.
Pakatan Harapan may have been threatened by UMNO-led Barisan Nasional to interfere and free its disgraced corrupt leader or risk a coup to topple Anwar – similar to how Najib and Zahid withdrew their support for former backdoor Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on August 2021, leading to the humiliating resignation of Mr Moo. Anwar blinked and complied obediently for the sake of power.
Anwar, having tasted blood, may think it was a small price to pay as long as he can stay in power. However, even if Anwar and Najib could join forces in the next national polls, it would do more harm than good. UMNO-Malay supporters switched sides to opposition Perikatan Nasional in the Nov 2022 General Election because they rejected the corrupt UMNO leaders, including Najib.
Those Malay voters who sought safe haven temporarily in Perikatan Nasional will now have even stronger reason to continue supporting the opposition now that it is proven that Anwar is worse than Mahathir and Muhyiddin combined. Mahathir charged Najib and Muhyiddin put him in jail, but Anwar reduced his jail sentence – that’s the perception of ordinary folks on the ground.
Do you really think Chinese voters will blindly cheer Anwar and Najib on the stage together talking about fighting corruption in the next election campaign? And do you really think Malay voters will return to UMNO when the reason they deserted the party in the first place was because they were sick and tired of Zahid and Najib? Get real, if they love Najib so much, they would have voted for UMNO in droves to secure his early pardon.
Too bad narrow-minded Perikatan Nasional has chosen to play Islamic extremism and racism cards to only appeal to the Malay Muslims. It could fully capitalize on the anger over Najib’s partial pardon card to win over Chinese and Indian votes. Still, disillusioned and demoralized Pakatan supporters can always stay at home and refuse to vote to teach Anwar a lesson.
Opposition Perikatan Nasional supporters can start mocking and insulting Pakatan Harapan supporters for the great “Value Meal Combo” – vote Anwar and get both Zahid and Najib for free. The burning question is whether the unity government will throw in more promotion freebies like Rosmah. Congratulations – Pakatan has lost truckloads of votes, yet Barisan will not get back their lost Malay voters. – Finance Twitter