Najib should sue Neflix, too late to ban 1MDB documentary

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Spooked by the documentary as it has everything to do with his application for a royal pardon.

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Netflix did not need to lift a finger to promote its latest documentary – “Man on the Run” – which was based on the true story of the infamous 1MDB scandal. Former Prime Minister Najib Razak, currently serving jail sentence linked to the world’s biggest scandal, has done an excellent job promoting it by demanding the Malaysian government to take down the film.

Did the crook watch it from his luxury cell in Kajang Prison? If not, how the heck did he know that the documentary is extremely “sub-judice and contemptuous”, as complained by his lead lawyer Shafee Abdullah? On the other hand, how the heck did Shafee know that his client was furious rather than exhilarated, if indeed Najib had not personally watched it?

After all, Najib’s “Malu Apa Bossku” (What’s the shame, my boss?) moniker had taken the country by storm not many moons ago. Yes, even as he was charged for corruption after losing the 14th General Election in May 2018, the ex-premier was particularly proud of the tagline. So, how could a man who did not think it was a shame to steal money is now so offended by a film that wasn’t about him?

Thanks to Najib’s desire to remove the documentary, it has backfired and created greater interest. The Netflix film reportedly jumped into the second spot (from fourth spot) within 24 hours on the streaming platform’s Top 10 Movies in Malaysia. The film, which focused primarily on Jho Low, Najib’s partner-in-crime, is already available on YouTube and other channels.

In fact, even before it was premiered on Netflix on January 5, 2024, the show had made its way to the cinemas in the United Kingdom and the United States last September, before being released in cinemas in neighbouring Singapore (October 5) and subsequently Malaysian cinemas (October 19). Why was the film NOT sub-judice and contemptuous during those periods?

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Why didn’t Najib’s hotshot lawyer demand Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who happened to be Najib Razak’s “durian buddy”, to ban the film as well – if indeed the 98-minute show is damaging to the crook’s reputation? The documentary features interviews with politicians and personalities like former Attorney General Thomas and Anwar Ibrahim.

It also features interviews with Sarawak Report editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown, former Damansara MP Tony Pua, whistleblower Xavier Andre Justo and even Najib Razak himself. Amusingly, Najib’s legal team wants to take “selective” action against Tommy and Clare, but not PM Anwar, whose statements in the documentary were described as “unpleasant” by Najib’s attorney (even though they were actually damaging).

Najib should have sacked his so-called hotshot lead counsel ages ago. He is now rotting in prison largely due to Shafee’s incompetence and arrogance. Demanding the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) and the Home Ministry to take the film off the air now is like trying to close the stable door after the horse has bolted. It’s too late.

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Hilariously, Najib, in his usual habit of blaming everyone except himself, has now claimed that he had been misled during the interview. Assuming he was retarded and possessed an “IQ of a carrot”, it’s hard to believe he was tricked or scammed by producer Cassius Michael Kim. That’s because Najib was accompanied by Muhammad Farhan Shafee (the son of his lead counsel Shafee Abdullah).

His aide Ahmad Lutfi Azhar was also present during the whole sessions of the interview in 2022, thus raising another question as to why it took the brilliant British-educated former PM two years to realize that he had been conned by Cassius Michael and his production team – The Smoking Section. Were his lawyer and aide busy playing marbles, leaving Najib to be screwed left, right and centre?

According to Cassius – “Every 30 to 45 minutes, Najib would retire to a private conference room with his attorney, Farhan and aide Luthfi to discuss what he and I spoke during the interview. Najib will return with clarifications and additional thoughts he wanted to add. With this context, how could Najib not be aware of what the documentary would be about?”

The best part is, till last week, the crook had never declined or showed reluctance in answering any of his questions during the interview. Cassius said – “Najib is the only person interviewed for the film who did not either directly, or through his team, reach out to me after the documentary was completed and premiered theatrically and on Netflix.”

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That means not only the interview had been conducted with utmost transparency, it was impossible to deceive the former Malaysian leader because he had brought along his top lawyer for legal advice. He could easily walk away if he felt it was a scam, or simply was not happy for whatever reason. The fact that he didn’t leave suggests that he was as thrilled as Michael Jackson’s Thriller during the entire interview.

Why did Najib bring his lawyer to the 2022 interview in the first place? It was due to the disastrous interview with Al-Jazeera four years earlier in October 2018, where Mary Ann Jolley skilfully grilled Najib till he ran away. That fabulous interview would see Al-Jazeera awarded “Interview of the Year” at the prestigious Royal Television Society Awards in London in February 2019.

The burning question is, exactly why Najib Razak, accompanied by his hotshot lawyer and aide, did not walk away during an interview with Cassius Michael Kim in 2022 but was smart enough to do so during an interview with Mary Ann Jolley in 2018 with an accusation that the news channel was not being fair to him? Does not that mean the interview with Cassius has been fair (since he didn’t flee)?

There were basically three reasons why the disgraced crook happily agreed to the interview in 2022. First, he had learned his lesson after his interview with Al-Jazeera and was well prepared by bringing along his lawyer. Second, he desperately needed another interview to cleanse himself in an attempt to impress upon the Federal Court before his final appeal against a graft conviction.

Third, crucially, he was cocksure that his Barisan Nasional coalition would win the 15th General Election, which would see him freed anyway. The “Bossku” had earlier led the United Malays National Organization (UMNO) to winning Malacca state election in November 2021 before scoring a huge victory in the Johor state election in March 2022, winning more than a two-thirds majority.

However, Najib was shocked when he failed in his final appeal against the High Court’s guilty conviction in July 2020 over the SRC International Sdn Bhd corruption case when the Federal Court – the highest court and the final appellate court in the country – upheld the conviction in August 2022. He made history by becoming the first former prime minister to be sent to jail.

All three courts and nine judges (High Court – 1, Court of Appeal – 3, Federal Court – 5) had delivered unanimous guilty verdicts on Najib. He was found guilty of all 7 charges – 1 count of abuse of power, 3 counts of criminal breach of trust (CBT), and 3 counts of money laundering – involving RM42 million stolen from SRC International Sdn Bhd (a subsidiary of 1MDB).

After sent to serve his 12 years in prison, the defiant and dejected man had filed a judicial review against the Federal Court’s decision. As expected, the Federal Court rejected his bid, effectively ending his judicial efforts to challenge the guilty verdict, which saw the crook sent to jail on August 23, 2022. Najib kept whining that he was not given a fair hearing, despite his repetitive delay tactics.

The scandal involved global investigation across three continents, where money was spent on high-end property, luxury goods and lavish holidays and parties involving Najib, his family and partner Jho Low. The US-DOJ investigation results say that over US$4.5 billion was misappropriated from the 1MDB fund, with some of the money used to buy the private jet, a super yacht, Picasso paintings, jewellery and real estate.

But why is Najib suddenly spooked by the “Man on the Run” documentary? It has everything to do with his application for a “royal pardon”, which his legal team hopes to get by pressuring PM Anwar Ibrahim to advise the King to grant it. However, if the prime minister is stupid enough to help Najib, it would be a political suicide for both PKR president Anwar and UMNO president Zahid.

Anwar became the 10th Prime Minister after rival Barisan Nasional under the leadership of Zahid Hamidi agreed to join forces with Pakatan Harapan. Since then, Najib loyalists in UMNO have been demanding that the Anwar-led unity government grants a royal pardon for “Bossku” under the pretext that the still influential Najib could help swing Malay voters back to UMNO.

Anwar’s government said it will “consider” Najib’s request to ban the documentary. But if the PM is too cowardly and stupid to approve the request, not only will it anger Pakatan Harapan supporters, but it will actually legitimize the crook’s narrative that he had been wrongly jailed, not to mention it will undermine Anwar’s own remarks in the same documentary.

Besides sending the wrong message that the unity government is weak and could be easily blackmailed by Najib to grant him a royal pardon, a ban on the documentary would be interpreted as interference by Anwar administration to sensor the Internet and abuse of power to suppress freedom of expression. Worse, the PM will be seen as trying to intervene in judiciary to help a crook.

Instead of trying to ban the film, which would not make any difference due to the fact that the video can still be accessed elsewhere, Najib should sue Netflix. With a market capitalization of over US$215 billion, the American media company founded in 1997 could make Najib a very rich man if Shafee and his legal eagles could prove that his client has been victimised by both the producer and Netflix.

Think about it. If 70-year-old Najib wins his lawsuit against Netflix, it will be the clearest proof that he was not a crook, leading to a justification for a royal pardon. All his remaining corruption charges may be dropped, and his popularity will certainly skyrocket. More importantly, not only will he be able to return to power as a billionaire, but also to redeem his integrity and reputation.

In July 2015, then-PM Najib said he had no choice but to sue for defamation after The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) stood by its report that US$700 million (RM2.6 billion) from state sovereign fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) was found in his personal bank accounts. Hilariously, in November the same year, he chickened out and made a U-turn after the WSJ called his bluff.

To save face, Najib’s incompetent counsel had offered the silliest excuse in humankind history – his client can’t get higher damages. But Netflix is different from the WSJ. A public-listed company, Netflix gross profit for the 12 months ending September 30, 2023, was a staggering US$12.93 billion – the second largest entertainment/media company by market capitalization. So, what is Najib waiting for? – Finance Twitter