It appears from the bad press that Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak continues to get that he’s the only guilty party to bring to account especially since the allegations in the Wall Street Journal last Friday on extraordinarily large sums of monies entering his personal banking accounts with AmBank private banking services.
Those who took monies from him are as equally guilty as those who channeled the alleged extraordinarily large sums into his personal accounts. Nothing is being said about this but it explains to a large extent why Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, hailed as a hero of sorts after the Janda Baik videos went viral, is “shy and hesitant” about pushing Najib out from the Prime Minister’s chair.
But since the public naturally wants to see blood, and since they want to see someone go to jail and suffer for doing a number on them with their own monies, Najib and Muhyiddin have become the focus of attention. This is where Najib’s claim that he would never betray the people "falls apart". He was already set to betray the people. The very system that he inherited was designed and driven by this approach.
Former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad who has long lost the moral high ground on the issue, having in fact been instrumental in creating the very system of institutionalized corruption that Najib inherited and having over-centralized power in the hands of the Prime Minister, and indeed having failed to redeem himself for being party to illegalities especially in Sabah, ironically leads the campaign to oust the Prime Minister.
He has even shed crocodile tears, more than once, on the fact that Malaysia has been listed under Najib as among the ten most corrupt nations on Earth. My! My! How rich! It seems that this man is beyond shame as well, an accusation he leveled at Foreign Minister Anifah Aman for alleging that he (Mahathir) has shamed the country and was bring it shame. It need hardly be stressed that this is like the proverbial pot calling the kettle black, following a falling out among thieves over their share of the loot. It seems that the logic here should be that one can do shameful things but don’t talk about it and “bocor rahsia” (spill the beans).
Not that two wrong make one right , but how does Mahathir explain the RM100 billion allegations against him in Barry Wain’s, Malaysian Maverick: Mahathir Mohamad in Turbulent Times. That was about monies he lost, not what he may have taken in the process. RM100 billion in today’s prices comes to RM400 billion, almost ten times Najib’s RM42 billion 1MDB Scandal. Mahathir isn’t exactly in a position to preach to others.
Mahathir’s major concern seems to be not Najib’s alleged wrongdoing but the fact that the Prime Minister, having been caught with his pants down so to speak, has become a liability and hence must go. He wants to save Umno, the party, and prevent the possibility of ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders being carted off to jail when the informal opposition alliance, Pakatan Rakyat, seizes the reins of power in Putrajaya. He does not appear concerned at all about saving the nation from abuse of power and conflict of interest, the reasons why Najib is being asked to go.
For starters, Najib has been asked to admit whether he has the alleged personal banking accounts, and faulted for not giving a simple Yes or No answer, as if having them was a crime. The thrust of the allegations is money laundering i.e. defined in international law as having assets far in excess of what one could legitimately accumulate over a lifetime.
How he came to have them, who gave them to him, and where they went after he got them, is not as important in his case as the fact that he has them.
The Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) will find it difficult this time to fall apart but not on money laundering but because Najib did not follow procedures, another major beef that Mahathir has against him. Not following procedures imperils the system based on thievery and buying elections. Najib didn’t even go through the pretence of doing business.
Money laundering has never been in MACC’s vocabulary. What matters to them is that procedures, meaning government, has been followed. The merits of the case, focusing on procedural unfairness, don’t enter their vocabulary. In fact, the MACC has an extraordinarily large number of cases, but the even more astonishing fact is that the sum total involved in their “busy being busy” syiok sendiri (full of themselves) syndrome comes to only a few miserable millions, small change for a moderately successful businessman.
Even Judicial Review cases in Court are about procedures, not the merits of the case, as that would involve looking at procedural unfairness. That’s how The Herald, the Christian weekly, lost its case in the Court of Appeal and subsequently in the Federal Court. In the High Court, it won because the Judge looked at the merits of the case, found procedural unfairness, and cited the Federal Constitution when ruling in favour of the weekly.
Again, Mahathir’s beef with Najib cannot certainly be about him having come into all that money but the fact that he did not observe the procedures – no prizes for remembering who established them – on which Umno has thrived on for so long at the expense of the nation. Others have observed as well that Najib, when he goes and go he certainly will, will simply be replaced by another Najib coming out with his own multimillion ringgit, if not multibillion scandals. Again, Umno thrives on making money from government projects, “following procedures”.
When Mahathir talks about saving Umno, that’s what he’s trying to save i.e. the system of institutionalized corruption and in the process put off the inevitability that BN leaders in the collective will some day be carted of to jail by a new government in Putrajaya.
Mahathir represents the hardcore, perhaps 30 per cent of the Malay voters who turn up, who have long sworn by “my party, right or wrong”. The way out for the voters who are in Umno has always been to settle differences in-house by compromising. That means one side in the issue in conflict has to go.
In this case, it’s clear that Najib will go, sooner or later, so that it can be back to “business as usual” for the party. But again, that means the other guilty parties in this latest soap opera will get away Scott-free once again, perhaps even moving to the other side of the political divide when Umno falls.
Change comes but seldom, and when it comes it’s sudden. The Law of Inertia sets in. The more things appear to change, the more they remain the same.